Many animals prefer to live in pairs and small groups because they get lonely.
So, you’re likely wondering if it’s a good idea to get your hamster a friend so that they can keep each other company. However, hamsters aren’t social creatures so they don’t need any company.
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are the only species who enjoy each other’s company.
Syrian and Chinese hamsters must never live with other animals because they’re territorial and will fight to the death.
Roborovski and winter white hamsters can live with their kin if they’re kept together from birth.
If you choose to get your dwarf hamster a companion, you must consider how much space they both need to prevent them from fighting for resources.
Do Hamsters Live Alone in the Wild?
Hamsters come from various regions, including Belgium, Syria, northern China, Romania, and Greece.
They prefer to live in warm, dry habitats, such as sand dunes and deserts. According to Live Science, some hamster species are social, while others prefer to live alone.
Hamsters only come together to breed. Procreation is essential for their survival because they’re vulnerable to so many different predators in the wild. Female hamsters come into heat every four days, which is when they breed with males.
Some breeds, such as Syrians and Chinese hamsters, also fight each other for the right to breed. The rest of the time, they live solitary lives in their burrows and forage for food separately.
Roborovski and other dwarf hamsters live in small groups, giving themselves a greater chance of survival.
Should Hamsters Be Kept Alone or in Pairs?
Since most wild hamsters don’t like living in pairs or groups, captive hamsters shouldn’t either. While some hamster species are comfortable living in twos, having more than two in one cage is dangerous.
You’ll also need to remember that the minimum floor space for one hamster is 80 x 500 cm. This means that you’ll need double the space to cater for several animals.
You mustn’t integrate hamsters from different litters, as they’ll become territorial and fight.
Never mix genders, or else you’ll end up with endless hamster litters. That’s because hamsters give birth within 16-22 days and can become pregnant within 24 hours.
The Michigan Humane Society recommends housing hamsters apart, regardless of their gender and species. Mature females become aggressive towards one another, while males will also fight.
Here are the social requirements of the most popular captive hamsters:
|Hamster Breed||Social Requirements|
|Syrian hamster||Must be kept alone|
|Chinese hamster||Must be kept alone|
|Roborovski hamster||Can be kept in pairs but are just as happy to live alone|
|Campbell’s dwarf hamster||Can be kept in pairs and benefit from each other’s company|
|Winter white hamster||Can be kept in pairs but are just as happy to live alone|
Now here’s a closer look at each hamster species and whether they should live alone or not:
Do Syrian Hamsters Need Company?
As mentioned, Syrian hamsters (teddy bear hamsters) are very territorial animals.
They don’t like living near other hamsters and will fight them for dominance over the cage. In fact, they dislike living with other hamsters so much that they’re prepared to fight to the death.
Baby Syrian hamsters can live together until they’re 8-10 weeks old. After this point, they’ll start to fight and cause each other harm.
Do Roborovski Hamsters Get Lonely?
Roborovski hamsters don’t get lonely, but they’re one of the most tolerant hamster breeds to keep in pairs.
However, while Robos are one of the smallest hamster species, they still require plenty of room. If you only have a limited amount of space, get one hamster.
If you opt for two Roborovski hamsters, you must always keep an eye on them, especially when they first move into their new cage.
That’s because they can become intolerant of each other over time. It’s not uncommon for dominant Robos to start bullying their more submissive companion.
If this happens, you’ll have no choice but to separate them.
Do Chinese Hamsters Need Company?
Even though Chinese hamsters are part of the dwarf family, they must be kept alone.
They’re not naturally sociable and will fight to the death. Even though they’re such tiny animals, they can cause each other a significant amount of damage, so it’s never worth the risk of keeping them together.
Even Chinese hamsters that have been kept together from birth can turn on each other at any time.
Do Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters Get Lonely?
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are the only hamster species that are happy to live in pairs and benefit from being amongst their own kind.
Make sure the Campbell’s dwarf hamsters you keep are from the same litter and gender and limit your number to two at a time so that they have enough space to thrive in.
Should You Separate Winter White Hamsters?
Winter white hamsters look similar to Campbell’s dwarves, but they’re less happy to live in pairs. Like Robo dwarf hamsters, you must only keep winter whites that have lived together since birth.
Winter whites can also become territorial, so you must monitor them closely to avoid fighting. Look for signs of dominant behavior, as this usually means that one of the hamsters is being bullied.
Do Hamsters Get Lonely on Their Own?
We’ve explained how most hamster species do better on their own, and that’s because they don’t get lonely. The feeling of loneliness is a human attribute that we commonly imprint onto animals.
Hamsters don’t see other hamsters as buddies or companions – they see them as competitors for food and resources. This is particularly true of same-sex hamsters, as they compete with each other for breeding rights in the wild.
Owners rarely provide enough space for two hamsters. It’s not always easy to consider additional space requirements, meaning several hamsters end up in cages that are half the size they need. This only amplifies their need to fight.
Do Hamsters Die of Loneliness?
Hamsters can’t die of loneliness. In fact, they’re more likely to thrive on their own than with another hamster.
Regardless of its species, keeping a hamster on its own won’t cause it any problems. Instead, focus on providing boredom breakers inside the cage to keep your lone hamster occupied.
However, cohabiting is a stressful experience for most hamsters and will make them sick. That’s because unwelcome companions cause a significant amount of distress. Stress exacerbates the growth of harmful bacteria, resulting in several harmful – and often fatal – health conditions.
Hamsters are far more likely to die from hurting each other than being separated from their kin. For example, bites can become infected, eventually killing the hamster if left untreated.
Do Hamsters Like Human Company?
Even though hamsters are solitary by nature, they enjoy a small amount of human company if their owners take the time to tame them.
Hamsters can build strong bonds with humans and even prefer human company to that of other animals. However, their trust needs to be earned first.
You can do this by letting your hamster get used to your scent and interacting with it in short bursts until it learns you’re not a threat.
That being said, all hamsters are different, and some prefer to be left alone. As a result, they burrow deep into their burrows and don’t come out until late when their owners are in bed.
You cannot change this, but you can keep encouraging your hamster to emerge with treats. If your hamster wants to be left alone, you must give it the space it needs.
How To Introduce a New Hamster to Another
You should never introduce a hamster to another. That’s because compatible breeds must have grown up together to live with each other.
However, you’ll need to move your hamsters into a new cage as soon as they’re old enough to leave their mother, which takes a little time and effort to prevent conflict.
Ensure that you have a small temporary cage, then follow these steps for a stress-free move:
- Choose a large cage that allows both hamsters enough space to explore and create burrows.
- Set up the cage with two of everything, including running wheels, water bottles, and food dishes.
- Put one hamster into the large cage and the other in the smaller cage. After 24 hours, swap the hamsters around so the other gets a chance to explore the large cage. This enables both hamsters to get used to the scent of the larger cage without becoming territorial over the space.
- Swap the hamsters back and forth for four days, making sure neither displays aggression towards the other.
- Once you’re comfortable your hamsters are okay with each other, let them both loose into the large cage while supervising them to ensure they don’t fight.
- If there are any signs of aggression, move the dominant hamster to the large cage and repeat steps 3-6.
Unfortunately, if the hamsters continue to become aggressive towards each other, they’re incompatible and need to live separate lives. Not all dwarf hamsters are suited to living in pairs, so it’s not a good idea to force it.
We don’t recommend that you keep multiple hamsters in the same cage. If you want more than one hamster, the safest option is to keep them in separate cages. That way, they won’t compete for resources, and there’s no chance of them fighting and hurting each other.