If you love your hamster, you want them to be happy. But, how do you do that? Fortunately, there are many ways to make your hamster happy, and most of them are incredibly easy!
As you’ll see, the best way to keep your hamster happy is to provide the best possible care for them and to stimulate them mentally. We’re going to go into more details so you can learn everything you need to know about keeping your pet content.
Keep reading to find out 25 ways to keep hamsters happy!
1. Provide Proper Nutrition
The first thing you want to do to keep your hamster happy is to make sure you’re feeding them a good diet. Although it will take a little work to figure it out, once you create a plan to feed your hamster, you will improve their health. A healthy hamster is a happy hamster!
We’ve taken most of the guesswork out of hamster nutrition by putting together a guide that even first-time hamster owners can follow. It lets you know exactly what hamsters need and gives you a food recipe along with recommendations for adding fresh foods to their diet.
One point that we’ll bring up here is to avoid over-feeding. Once you figure out how much food your hamster needs every day, just provide that much. If their bowl is empty, they probably moved everything to a food stash in their burrow, so don’t worry.
2. Keep Them Hydrated
In addition to giving them food, you need to make sure they always have access to water. As many species of hamsters come from desert climates, they may not drink much. However, you still want to make sure they always have access to fresh water.
Installing a high-quality water bottle is the best way you can ensure your hamster will stay hydrated but their bedding will remain dry. Check out our post on the best hamster water bottles to see what we recommend.
3. Have an Exercise Wheel
Hamsters can run between two to five miles every night. When they don’t have the ability to do that, they can become bored and gain weight. To provide a way for them to run off that extra energy, give your hamster an exercise wheel. There is a wide variety to choose from so you’re sure to find something that will make your hamster happy.
4. Create a Tunnel System
In the wild, hamsters live in complex underground tunnel systems. So, if you truly want to keep your hamster happy, you’ll recreate that as best you can. This will allow them to engage in natural behaviors and will help prevent them from getting bored if the only form of exercise they have is a wheel.
Commercially-made plastic tunnels exist but can be pricey, especially if you want to have a large setup. To save yourself some money, you can also make your own tunnels with paper rolls or plastic bottles. If you want your hamster to get the most out of their tunnels, be sure to check out our guide on tunnels.
Read more: Why and How to Make Hamster Tunnels
5. Give Them Deep Bedding
Because hamsters are burrowers, they’ll only be happy if they’re allowed to do some digging. The safest way to do that is by providing them with deep bedding. Once you discover where your hamster likes to sleep, you can go ahead and pile it up especially deep for them in that area.
Here’s an example of a hamster that’s completely content in her burrow:
And, here’s one that somehow managed to fall asleep where there is no bedding, which just doesn’t look comfortable. However, it also looks like there’s plenty of bedding in the lower part of his cage, so the lack of bedding here was likely the hamster’s fault, not the owner’s!
6. Provide Toys
Wheels and tunnels are great, but toys are even better! Giving your hamster different toys will stimulate them mentally which will make them happier.
We recommend setting up a playpen outside of your hamster’s cage where you can allow them to play in every day. Ideally, this would be the first thing in the morning or late in the evening when your hamster is awake and active. Be sure the area is safe and inescapable, and keep an eye on them the whole time. There’s nothing worse than a loose hamster!
Read more: How to hamster-proof a room in 10 easy steps.
7. Give Them Treats
Don’t go overboard with this because you don’t want your hamster to end up gaining weight, but healthy treats are certainly a way to make your hamster happy. It’s also the perfect way to bond with your furry friend. When they realize that you’re the one providing them with such deliciousness, they’ll love you for it!
Here are a few treats you can give hamsters:
- Fresh veggies
- Fresh fruit
Get the complete list here: What Treats Can I Give My Hamster?
8. Pet Them (But only if they like it)
Once you have gained the trust of your hamster (by feeding them lots of healthy treats, of course!), you can pet and snuggle them as often as you like. Although most hamsters are solitary in the wild, these pets have since become affectionate and love getting attention from their owners!
Check out this little guy getting snuggled:
The next few tips revolve around your hamster’s cage. Since that’s where they spend the majority of their time, it’s vital to your hamster’s happiness to give them the best possible home.
9. Keep Their Cage Clean
Hamsters don’t have the luxury of flushing a toilet and having all their waste instantly removed from their living area. Instead, they need you to do it for them. Since hamsters have sensitive noses, make sure you clean it regularly rather than waiting until you smell it.
We recommend removing visible debris from the cage on a daily basis. A complete cage clean-up is somewhat stressful for your hamster, so shouldn’t be done too often. Read here on how often you should clean the cage and how.
If your hamster uses a litter box, you may be able to go longer in between full cleanings as long as you’re cleaning the litter box every day.
Training your hamster to use the litter box is a bonus tip for this post. When your hamster has a certain place to go that gets cleaned regularly, it will keep them much happier than having to deal with an overflow of waste when their designated toilet area gets too messy.
10. Create a Natural Habitat
Many owners feel that when you create a more natural environment for your hamster, they are both healthier and happier. These hamster cages are designed to create endless fun for your hamster. You can get as fancy as you’d like, or keep it simple with just a few natural elements included.
However far you take it, be sure that everything you add is safe for your hamster. If you bring in anything from outside, make sure it’s free of chemical pesticides and sanitized.
Here’s one example of an awesome natural habitat:
Get more inspiration here: Natural Hamster Cage Ideas
11. Give Your Hammy a Big Cage
Another point to make about the above example is that the cage looks big for that one dwarf hamster. However, when you consider how much territory a single hamster has in the wild, it just makes sense to give your pet as much space as you can.
When they have plenty of space for burrowing, hiding, and toys, they’ll be much happier and less likely to get bored. Remember that just because a hamster is small doesn’t mean they want to stay in a tiny space! Their cage is not just their home; it’s their whole world.
Read more here: How to Choose the Best Cage for Your Hamster
12. Let Them Live Alone
While there are some species of dwarf hamsters that don’t mind living with other hamsters, the vast majority prefer to live alone. This is particularly true of Syrian hamsters. If you have more than one, neither will be happy and they’ll likely fight until one leaves or is killed.
You are the only friend your hamster needs, so if you want to get more than one, keep each one in his or her own cage. They will thank you for it.
13. Give Them Hiding Places
As you’re setting up your hamster’s cage, you’ll want to make sure they have some places to hide. As prey animals, hiding is something that comes naturally for them. If your hamster hears a strange noise or gets nervous when your cat comes to visit, they’ll feel much happier if they can quickly duck into a hiding place.
This can be as easy as providing a toilet paper tube which they can hide in, or you can buy ones like these:
14. Put the Cage in a Good Spot
Where you put your hamster’s cage can have a bigger impact on their health and happiness than you probably realize. However, since hamsters are sensitive to noises, drafts, and temperature fluctuations, you want to take some time to think about where you put your hamster cage.
Read more: Where Should I Put My Hamster’s Cage?
15. Use Pet-Safe Accessories
The next few tips after this will deal with some additional accessories you should get for your hamster if you want them to be happy. With all of these, this point applies: make sure they’re safe!
If you give your hamster a natural wood habitat with things you found outside, for example, these could be treated with harmful pesticides or could have dangerous bacteria on them. These could make your hamster sick or even kill them!
For that reason, you always want to make sure anything your hamster comes into contact with is safe for them!
16. Provide Chews
Like all members of the rodent family, hamsters have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. If they don’t grind these down by chewing, they can become overgrown which presents a number of problems, starting with your hamster not being able to eat.
To keep your hamster’s teeth the proper length, ensure they always have something safe to chew on. There’s a wide variety of chews to choose from that your hamster is sure to love.
Read more: 9 Best Hamster Chews
17. Let Them Have a Sand Bath
Hamsters love taking sand baths, so the act itself will make them happier. It can also help them feel cleaner as it removes excess oil from their skin which in turn leaves them feeling clean! Just make sure you pick out sand that’s safe for hamsters and get them the right bowl.
Read more: How to Give My Hamster a Sand Bath
18. Get Them a Hammock
Hammocks are another way you can enrich your hamster’s environment to make them happier. It will also give them another cozy place to snuggle into while they sleep the day away. You can find any style of hammock that will match you and your hamster’s preferences.
While not all hamsters will take to a hammock, those that do will be happier!
Read more: 10 Best Hamster Hammocks
19. Consider a Hamster Ball
This accessory allows your hamster to do some running outside of their cage. When used correctly, a hamster ball is a great enrichment tool for many hamsters. The biggest mistake many pet owners make is leaving their hamster in the ball for too long.
Generally speaking, you want to leave your hamster in the ball for no more than 20 minutes at a time. This gives your hamster enough time to enjoy a change of view but doesn’t allow them to get frustrated when they can’t easily sniff and interact with the environment on the other side of the plastic.
Always monitor your hamster when he or she is in the ball. Some hamsters become stressed and frustrated as they can’t really interact with the world around them while in the ball. If your hamster doesn’t seem to be enjoying the experience, skip the ball.
20. Keep Them Healthy
We’ve mentioned it several times already but it’s worth repeating. If your hamster is healthy, they will be happy. Quite a few things on this list are directly related to improving your hamster’s health, but here are a few more:
- Watch for signs of illness, especially wet tail
- Take your hamster to the veterinarian if you’re worried about their health
- Give special care to older hamsters
Hamsters only live an average of 2 to 3 years. So, if you want them to be around and happy for as long as possible, you need to keep them healthy!
21. Let Them Sleep
All species of hamsters are either nocturnal or crepuscular animals. Either way, they sleep during the day. If you want your hamster to be happy, let them sleep as much as they want during the day. Whenever possible, clean the cage and interact with your pet in the evening hours when they wake up on their own.
Read more: Are hamsters nocturnal?
22. Don’t Breed Them
The idea of cute baby hamsters is fun, but it’s not a good idea to breed your hamster if you want them to be happy. Pregnancy and caring for babies is hard on females. Besides that, there are already plenty of hamsters in the world, so there’s no need to breed more just for the fun of it.
If you do end up with a pregnant female, make sure you give them special care and do your research on how to care for them so you can ease her burden.
23. Groom Your Hamster
Grooming your hamster is another way to make them happy. Use a special brush for hamsters or an old toothbrush to keep their coat shiny. Long-haired hamsters also need to be groomed regularly to prevent mats from forming.
It’s also important to trim your hamster’s nails. This will prevent them from scratching you or themselves, and they’ll be a lot happier with short nails that don’t get caught on things.
Read more: Should You Trim Your Hamster’s Nails?
24. Respect Their Space
Although we’ve already mentioned that most hamsters love to be snuggled, there are some that simply aren’t big fans of being held or touched by people. If you have a new pet hamster, they may simply need time to get used to you. Either way, if your hamster doesn’t seem to want you in their space, respect that.
Over time, you may win them over with treats and by taking things slowly, but you should always respect an animal’s space.
25. Learn Everything About Hamsters
Last and certainly not least, the best way you can make your hamster happy is to learn everything you can about hamsters. Fortunately, with our numerous articles on hamsters, it’s easy to learn what you need to know to provide the best possible care for them.
Be sure to check out our post with 37 Hamster Care Tips That Will Take You to the Next Level to get started!