If your hamster is lonely and you want him or her to have a friend to play with, you can buy or adopt a new little pet. The hamster hideout will be used by your pet when a new companion may appear or when he or she feels in danger and wants to take cover. Here are some facts you should know before putting two or more hamsters in the same cage.
What is the right ‘home’ for your hamster?
Before getting another member for your hamster family, you should inform about them. Keep in mind that having a pet is a responsibility and you have to offer a good environment to your little friend. Make sure that you have the right conditions for them.
In order to create a little home for your future pet, you have to buy a cage that is suitable for him or her. Usually, a hamster needs a large floor; there are many opinions about the right space for hamsters. Try to buy a cage that is big enough for his or her food bowl and water bottle, toys, toilet space and the sleeping one.
If you want to buy or adopt another hamster, make sure that there’s plenty of room for them both. Also, you may consider buying another cage. As we will see below, sometimes, hamsters don’t get along and you have to put them separately.
Should we keep the hamsters together?
It depends on their species and on their gender — at least based on many specialists’ opinions. And usually, hamsters fight over compatibility so you have to inform yourself before if you want to put them together. If you have enough space for your hamsters, now you have to find what hamster species accept company.
Syrian hamsters, for example, are very territorial pets. They don’t accept company, so you can’t keep two or more hamsters of this species together. Of course, Syrian baby hamsters are kept together, but after eight or ten weeks old, they should be separated.
The most recommended species of hamsters to be bought or adopted are Dwarf hamsters. They enjoy sharing their space and time with members of the same species. Also, they are very friendly.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that hamsters of the same gender can be kept together and hamsters of different genders need to be separated. If you want to make a big family and put two hamsters of different genders together, keep in mind that they can fight, too. The most common reasons are food, space, or toys.
Get them ready to make acquaintance
Okay so now you know what species of hamsters to buy in order to avoid fights. Wait! The journey to your family hamsters’ peace is not over! Even though you choose a compatible pair of hamsters, you have to prepare for their first meeting.
Like other animals, hamsters have to be placed in different cages, side by side — at least at first. In the beginning, they have to get used to each other. Even if they are separated, they can smell and hear each other through the bars of the cages. In that way, they interact. After they seem to accept each other, you can move them together in a shared cage. But you have to watch them so as not to have them fight when they first meet. If so, you will have to wait a little more for them to get used to each other.
An important fact that you have to know is that the shared cage should be cleaned, and so do the other accessories (food bowls, toys) and the bedding. The smell needs to be neutral; under no circumstances should the the scent of another hamster be there. In this case, there will be a reason for your hamsters to fight – the territory.
So your hamsters are now together, in the same cage. But you can’t relax yet; you have to pay attention and observe how they act. Never leave them alone if you are not completely sure that they are safe together. Observe their behavior for a while.
When do hamsters fight?
Now that the hamsters are in the cage, they will get to know each other and they will build a relationship. Also, they may start to fight each other. But when do we have to intervene?
When do we know that the limit was passed? Many people are scared of the little fights that hamsters have. Others, not impressed, may misunderstand the signs and one hamster or both of them can be hurt. Let’s see what is normal and what is not, and you will know when to intervene.
Squabbling is normal; in order to understand your hamsters’ behavior, you should know that they fight for dominance. The dominance is about one hamster that imposes himself or herself and puts the other one in his place; this is an instinct that hamsters who live in the wild have.
The instinct was preserved even as hamsters became so-called domestic animals; they are used to have plenty of land outside, in nature. But in a cage, things are different, and they will act differently. This kind of behavior can be followed by chasing or sniffing, but you don’t have to worry about it. Also, in cases of domination, the dominant hamster can jump on the other one until he or she accepts the submission. This dominance show can last for a few weeks, but they will also continue to do their usual activities.
The biggest difference between the dominance act and the fighting is the violence. Usually, there will be a bullied hamster that, after the fights, can gain or lose weight — he or she will not play anymore and will become withdrawn. Another sign of bullying or fighting is biting and when the ‘playing’ is mostly followed by scratching and blood. In this case, you should intervene.
How to separate fighting hamsters
As we said, if they are fighting over space or dominance, they have to be put in different cages. Before you separate them, make sure that you are wearing gloves. They can be really violent, and you may become a collateral victim. The cages should be kept in different rooms because even the smell of each other can stress them out. Also, you have to look after the bullied hamster.
How to prevent fights
We said that, usually, hamsters fight over territory. Make sure that the cage is big enough for your hamsters. Also, the toys, food and water bowls should be enough for both of them.
Another thing that you can do is to make sure that the hamsters get the same attention from you. Make sure you spend time with each of them. Also, a method to make them tolerate each other again is to pick them up at the same time. So, you can play with them together, feed them together. By doing this, they will start tolerating each other.