Do Hamsters Feel Pain?

By Dawn | Hamster Facts
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When you think about hamsters, you imagine them safe in their cages and being well looked after. For the most part, this is true, but sometimes hamsters may become sick or injured, and this got me wondered; do hamsters feel pain?

Hamsters, much like any other animal, can and do feel pain. However, since they have no way of communicating this problem with their owners, you may not notice that they are in pain until it is too late. 

That being said, there are some subtle signs that your pet may be suffering, so I thought it a good idea to share this with you. Being able to tell whether your pet is in pain is an essential part of managing their care. 

Do Hamsters Feel Pain?

Hamsters have the ability to feel pain; they have nerves, which are channels that send signals to the brain when they are stimulated. 

You would be very familiar with this as a human; if I were to touch your hand right now, your nerves would send a signal to your brain telling it that something was touching you.

For many animals, this sensation is important as it can tell them if there is danger. But just because hamsters are able to feel physical sensations it does not mean that you will be aware of any pain that your hamster may be experiencing. 

Of course, getting to know your pet and learning how they behave in certain situations might give you a brief idea. But if you do not notice your hamster’s plight until it is too late, don’t feel bad; you certainly are not alone.

When hamsters are in pain, they don’t usually make too much of a fuss. If the pain is mild, you might not notice any changes in your pet at all. 

Conversely, if your hamster is in a great deal of pain, it is not uncommon to see them simply giving up. An ailing hamster may burrow into their nest and stop eating or drinking. 

If you happen to notice this, it is a wise idea to have them checked over as this could be a sign that something is wrong. 

Any time you see a change in your pet’s behavior, it is a good idea to have them looked at by your vet. 

When hamsters reach the end of their short lives, they may experience pain, and in some cases, it is kinder to have them put to sleep, but this is something that should be discussed with your vet.

There is a chance that your hamster may make noises if they are suffering from any sort of pain. In the main, hamsters will usually make squeaking sounds, but if the pain is sudden and surprises them, they may scream out. 

If you have never heard this before, it can be a little unnerving, but it is a good sign that your hamster might need assistance. 

Furthermore, hamsters may also hiss when they are frightened or in pain. You would likely notice this when attempting to handle the hamster. Even if your pet is generally pretty docile, a bout of pain could cause them to react aggressively to being touched. 

However, while it can be a little challenging to pick up on your hamster experiencing any kind of pain or illness, there are signs that you can look out for that might give you a clue. 

Signs That A Hamster Is In Pain

As we have discussed, a sick or ailing hamster may not show any signs that he or she is in pain. In fact, they may hide away and give up. 

However, before things reach such a drastic head, there are other things that you might be able to look out for to tell what condition your hamster is in. 

If a hammy is stressed, one of the first things you might notice is that they will bite the bars of the cage. The behavior is often misinterpreted as the hamster trying to keep their teeth trimmed or boredom. 

You may notice changes in their toileting, they might not go at all, or they may suffer from wet tail, which is similar to diarrhea for hamsters. This could also be accompanied by a change in your little pet’s appetite.

Your hamster may sleep more than normal or appear to be lethargic, perhaps not exercising as much and remaining much more still than usual. 

Hamsters who are in pain may also experience labored breathing, difficulty walking, and in the worst cases, may collapse onto the floor altogether.

It is crucial that any changes in her behavior result in a trip to the vet, as these are typically signs that your pet is injured or unwell. 

How To Care For A Dying Hamster

Sadly, there are times when a hamster becomes so sick that there is nothing more we can do other than comfort them in their final days. This is extremely difficult when you have built a bond with an animal but an important part of their care.

One of the first things to do is move the hamster into their own enclosure if they have been sharing with others. Keep the cage somewhere quiet and out of direct sunlight. Food and water should be placed near the hamster’s nest so that they don’t need to move far to access it. If necessary, you can hand-feed your pet.

You should also make sure to thoroughly clean the original cage to prevent any bacteria from infecting other hamsters, should the condition be contagious. 

You must make sure that the hamster is kept warm; if they are cold, they will stop eating and drinking. 

There are several ways you can do this, including using a heat lamp to keep the cage around 80ºF and providing warmer bedding. 

If your hamster is happy to be handled, you may also pet them to keep him warm and calm. However, it is worth noting that these animals may bite when they are in pain, so be gentle. 

If it is not possible for your hamster to pass at home, your vet may suggest putting them to sleep to reduce their suffering. While this is upsetting, it may be the best thing you can do for your pet. 

Related Questions

Do hamsters get sad?

Research has shown that hamsters may have problems with depression in much the same way that humans do. This is more common in the winter months when things are colder and darker.

What stresses a hamster?

Hamsters may become stressed if their enclosure is not kept clean, isn’t large enough or if they do not have access to everything they need, such as food, fresh water, exercise, and a place to nest. They might also be stressed if they are placed in an enclosure with other hamsters who are fighting for dominance. Other household pets might also cause problems, as can excessive noise or disruption to your hamster’s routine.