Hamsters don’t respond to specific human words or assign meaning to them. Instead, they recognize sounds. The way noises combine will become familiar to a hamster once repeated sufficiently.
If you have a strong bond with a hamster, you’ll be able to communicate. That doesn’t mean you can have a conversation in English, but you can recognize hamster body language and respond in kind.
Equally, the hamster will start to respond to the sound of your voice, as they have excellent hearing. Your hamster may be trainable if you keep your commands short and to the point.
Can Hamsters Understand Human Language?
Hamsters will never fully understand what a human is saying, regardless of our language.
Hamsters learn through repetition and reward. If you want to familiarize a hamster with the sound of your voice, talk to it regularly in the same tone of voice.
Your voice is essential for forging a relationship, as hamsters have bad eyesight and rarely recognize their owners by sight. It’s your scent and voice that reveals your presence.
According to Professional School Counseling, tone of voice is essential when communicating with hamsters. Always use a calm voice to avoid distressing them.
Do Hamsters Learn Their Name?
A hamster will learn to recognize the sound of its name, but this does not mean that it’ll understand it. You can change a hamster’s name, and it’ll still respond.
The hamster reacts to the noises you’re making, not a certain word.
To train a hamster to recognize its name, allow it to settle into your home and start talking to it. Use a soft, gentle voice. It doesn’t matter what you say, as the hamster can’t understand.
The purpose of this exercise is to help the hamster recognize your voice.
As you earn a hamster’s trust, it’ll consider your voice a source of pleasure. When a hamster hears you speak, it knows that food, play, or another positive experience is coming.
Cement this by allowing the hamster out of the cage and holding up a treat. Use the hamster’s name and, if it responds, hand over the treat.
Before too long, the hamster will start associating the range of noises you make when using its name with treats. Naturally, this will encourage it to respond when you call it.
Do Hamsters Respond to Commands?
Training a hamster to obey commands involves the same process as teaching him/her its name, but success will take longer. As per Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, hamsters can learn tricks and commands.
Training a hamster to follow a command requires repetition and motivation.
Each time the hamster does something you appreciate, such as going to the toilet in a designated area, use a command word and reward its good behavior.
Eventually, a hamster will associate the command word with the activity and the activity with the reward. The hamster will understand even sooner if you use a visual or scent-based cue with a voice command or another noise, such as a soft whistle.
How Do Hamsters Communicate with Humans?
Even if the hamster can understand human language when we speak to them, they can’t chat back.
This raises another question – what language do hamsters speak? To understand the hamster’s expression, learn its communication style.
This comes in vocal cues and body language. Hamsters are more communicative than you may realize once you understand what the hamster is trying to say.
Chirps and Squeaks
Hamsters are often considered quiet pets, but they squeak regularly. According to Animal Behavior, these sounds are ultrasonic and, at over 20 kilohertz, too high-pitched for the human ear to detect.
These communications aren’t intended for us but for fellow hamsters. Typically, a hamster releasing ultrasonic squeaks feels safe and content and is chatting happily to a conspecific. It’s known as broadband communication if you can hear the hamster verbalize.
If the hamster makes audible squeaks and sounds toward another small animal, this is an act of aggression. Two male Syrian hamsters will likely battle over territory when forced to share a space.
You may hear your hamster chirp or squeak in your presence. If so, the hamster is choosing to interact with you. In most cases, a squeak intended for human ears isn’t a warning to stay away unless the sound resembles a growl.
Hamsters loudly squeak because they’re excited to see you. The hamster will welcome your presence if you have trained it to understand your voice and language.
Hamsters display various body language, all of which should be studied and understood. Here are four of the most common physical reactions to your presence:
Staring at You
Hamsters sometimes stop and stare directly at you for what can feel like an uncomfortably long time. In these instances, your hamster is unlikely to be watching you.
The hamster will be listening out for danger and seeking a warning scent. Essentially, the hamster wants to know if you mean it any harm.
Avoid sudden movements that could spook a hamster, so speak in a calm and comforting tone.
Yawning and Stretching
Hamsters always enjoy a long yawn and a big stretch after sleep.
Expect the hamster to start exercising, foraging for food, or asking to be released from its cage.
Yawning can also be a sign of affection from a hamster. If the hamster gazes at you and yawns, it’s expressing vulnerability, which confirms that it feels safe in your presence.
If a hamster stands upright and still, it’ll likely listen and sniff the air. Something has caught its attention, and it wants to understand better where this unfamiliar smell or sound stems from.
If the hamster decides it’s in danger, it may run away and hide. In such instances, be prepared to catch a hamster to stop it from hurting itself.
Be mindful of a hamster that stands on its hind legs, ears upright, and paws out. This may remind you of a boxer’s pose, and that’s what the hamster intends.
It’s trying to look big and intimidating to frighten you. So, if you approach, it may bite.
Freezing in Place
If the hamster falls to the ground and freezes, seemingly playing dead, ensure it’s not in immediate danger and walk away at once. Hamsters only behave this way if they’re terrified.
If you cause the worry, you risk giving your hamster a heart attack.
How to Speak Hamster Language
You’ll unlikely reach vocal pitches high enough to communicate with hamsters in squeaks, so you’ll need to rely on human language. Remember the golden rules of hamster communication:
- Use a light, singsong voice – Keep bass out of your tone and never shout.
- Repeat what you say – The more a hamster hears certain words, the more likely it is to associate them with actions in the future.
- Rewards – Always reward a hamster when it responds to a vocal greeting or command.
If you respect the parameters laid out by a hamster in its body language, you can overcome its inability to speak English and communicate relatively effectively.