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how to stop hamster monkey barring

How To Get A Hamster To Stop Monkey Barring

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2022)

Life can be dull for small caged animals, so hamsters must be kept entertained.

If you fail to provide enough enrichment, a hamster will make its own fun. An example of this is monkey barring, where a hamster will cling to the top of a cage, swinging from bar to bar across it.

A hamster doing monkey bars risks injury if it falls, so it should be dissuaded.

Ensure the cage is big enough to sate your hamster’s need for exercise by providing toys and climbing apparatus. If a hamster refuses to stop monkey barring, switch its cage for a plastic tank.

Captive hamsters must indulge their natural instincts, including a desire to climb. Put a stop to monkey barring if your hamster as the risk of injury is high.

What is Monkey Barring in Hamsters?

As stated, monkey barring involves the hamster climbing to the top of a cage and moving from one side of the cage to the other. The habit is named after the children’s playground apparatus.

Syrian hamsters are the likeliest breed to engage in monkey barring, mainly due to their size.

Dwarf hamsters may perform monkey barring occasionally, but some will lack the body mass and strength to lift themselves to the top of the cage.

Is Monkey Barring Dangerous for Hamsters?

The act of monkey barring isn’t dangerous. The hamster won’t struggle to clamber to the top of the cage, and most hamsters enjoy the experience, as climbing comes naturally to hamsters.

Unfortunately, hamsters are at risk of falling while monkey barring, which can cause injury. Hamster bodies have tiny, fragile bones, so it doesn’t take much impact to cause a fracture.

Protect your hamster by stopping monkey barring within the cage. While significant amounts of substrate will provide padding in the event of a crash landing, preventative measures are preferred.

Why is My Hamster Monkey Barring?

Hamsters have a natural instinct to climb, so they’ll embrace it if they can. If your hamster lives in a cage, clambering using bars on the side and ceiling is the easiest way to do so.

There are three explanations for a hamster monkey barring in its cage:

Lack of Space

The most common reason for a hamster to monkey bar around its cage is a lack of space.

Wild hamsters are used to running overnight, covering up to 6 miles of ground. A small cage will not afford this opportunity, unless fitted with a running wheel.

The ideal size of a hamster cage depends on the breed.

As the largest hamsters out there, the Syrian needs an enclosure of at least 24x12x12 inches, but bigger is better. The more space the hamster has to move around within, the happier it’ll be.

Monkey barring could be an attempt to find a weakness in the ceiling. Hamsters are skilled escapologists. If your pet finds a hatch in the ceiling while monkey barring, it’ll look to squeeze through.

why is my hamster monkey barring?


One of the negatives of living in too small a cage is boredom and stress. A hamster cage that lacks sufficient square footage will struggle to find ways to keep itself amused.

As nocturnal animals, hamsters spend most of their waking lives alone while you’re fast asleep. They may get an hour or two of free-running time, but they’re restricted to a cage beyond this.

This may not be an issue if that cage has entertainment. If you don’t provide a hamster with toys and other diversions, it will make its own fun, including monkey barring.

Seeking Attention

If you leap to attention every time your hamster starts monkey barring, a hamster will have no reason to stop indulging in the habit.

How To Stop A Hamster Monkey Barring

There are four ways to approach stopping monkey barring:

Establish a Routine

As discussed, hamsters will never be shy about monkey barring if they think it will get them out of a cage. Hamsters love time outside their habitat and won’t pass up a chance to gain a quick exit.

Like cage biting, monkey barring isn’t something that you should ignore. Equally, immediately removing your hamster from its cage the moment you see monkey barring sets a precedent.

Establish a routine for your hamster that sets its mind at rest.

Provide Alternative Climbing Apparatus

The above approach may stop your hamster from monkey barring when it first wakes up, but what about later in the evening, after you have retired for the night? You still need to sate a hamster’s desire to climb.

Go to your local pet store, and you’ll find a range of climbing toys. Climbing frames made of natural wood will fit within any cage of appropriate size and allow hamsters to indulge in their desire to clamber and scramble safely.

Keep the Hamster Entertained

Your hamster needs other diversions to remain happy in a habitat. Ensure your hamster has the opportunity to exercise and indulge in other instincts, such as foraging, hiding, and grooming.

Essential additions to any hamster habitat include:

  • Running wheel to burn off excess energy
  • Chew toys to pass the time
  • Paper and tissue-based toys to destroy and file teeth
  • Tubes to explore
  • Bedding to sate a hamster’s nesting instinct
  • Food dotted around the substrate to encourage foraging

Provide these additions, and your hamster is increasingly unlikely to resort to monkey barring to keep itself in shape and amused.

Change Habitat

We’ve discussed the importance of size, so upgrade your hamster to a larger cage if necessary.

Be mindful when housing dwarf hamster breeds, as large cages have oversized spaces between bars. Tiny hamsters may be able to sneak through these bars and escape or hurt themselves trying to climb.

If your hamster cannot be stopped from monkey barring, ask if they need a cage with bars. Some hamsters live in solid plastic tanks. The risks here are reductions in ventilation and cleanliness.

Monkey barring comes naturally to hamsters, but that doesn’t mean it’s a habit to be indulged. Be mindful of the risks that arise when hamsters monkey bar their way across a cage and understand why your hamster is prone to doing so.