Dwarf hamsters are a species that thrives when housed together in pairs or small groups. They love to play together and enjoy having companions with whom to socialize.
However, when you have two or more dwarf hamsters living together, you should eventually expect conflict between them. Having to share space and resources with others will inevitably lead to fights.
Is it Normal for Dwarf Hamsters to Fight?
Fighting between dwarf hamsters happens for many reasons, but it’s not ingrained in them to be fighters. That’s why it’s recommended to house multiple dwarf hamsters together.
Aggression is untypical, which is why dwarf hamsters thrive when living with others. This differs from Syrian and Chinese hamsters, which must be kept alone because they’re natural aggressors.
However, that doesn’t mean that dwarf hamsters will never fight. At some point, something will annoy or threaten one of the hamsters, and that will cause an issue that could lead to a fight.
Why Are My Dwarf Hamsters Fighting All of a Sudden?
Having multiple dwarf hamsters in one cage can sometimes become overwhelming, even though they like being with each other.
Things like cage size, lack of resting space, and too few toys or food to go around can all be contributors to sudden fighting amongst dwarf hamsters.
While it’s okay to have a horde of dwarf hamsters in one cage, you need to ensure that the cage size is adequate to accommodate the number of hamsters in it.
The consensus is that the bigger the cage size, the better, especially if you have multiple dwarf hamsters in one cage. The area recommended for one dwarf hamster is 450 square inches of floor space.
If the cage you’re using is too small for the number of dwarf hamsters you have, they won’t have enough space to run around or to spread out from each other.
Your dwarf hamsters may feel irritable and unhappy if their space is too small, which can lead to fighting.
Not Enough Food or Toys
If your dwarf hamsters don’t have enough food or toys to keep them happy, they may start fighting over things because they don’t want to share.
Consider putting two hamster wheels in their cage and providing enough tunnels to run through and hide inside.
Keep enough food and water in their cage so that each of them has a plentiful supply. Perhaps put two water bottles in the cage so they don’t have to share just one.
With several dwarf hamsters occupying the same space, it’ll not take long for them to dirty up their cage.
If you aren’t cleaning it regularly or as fast as they dirty it, they can get uncomfortable and irritable. Your dwarf hamsters could suddenly start fighting because they’re uncomfortable and stressed.
Sometimes no matter what steps you take to ensure your dwarf hamsters are happy and have a spacious cage with lots of entertainment, they won’t get along.
For reasons you may never figure out, they may not like each other. It happens with people, and it happens with dwarf hamsters, too.
It’s possible that your dwarf hamsters aren’t fighting but just playing with each other.
Sometimes when they’re playing, it may look like they’re fighting, and sometimes when they’re playing, it can get out of hand and turn into a fight.
Your dwarf hamsters could also be mating.
Fighting vs. Mating vs. Playing
According to Aggressive Behavior, 70% of the attacks during play-fighting between dwarf hamsters were targeted at the mouth.
If the mouth were hit, the dwarf hamster would lick and nuzzle the mouth of its playmate. Other playful attacks were gentle bites directed at the rump and the top of the head.
During serious fighting, attacks were directed at the top of the head and the rump with more forceful biting, but the mouth wasn’t targeted.
When dwarf hamsters play, they may chase, wrestle, roll on the floor, and even sniff and squeak at each other.
They’ll forcefully bite and scratch at each other when they’re fighting, sometimes drawing blood. They’ll also start squeaking loudly, especially if they’re in pain.
You’ll be able to tell if two of your dwarf hamsters are in the process of mating if you catch them in the act.
Do Dwarf Hamsters Fight to the Death?
While it’s not a usual occurrence, dwarf hamsters will fight to the death if things get heated enough.
Dwarf hamsters can become territorial or get upset with other dwarf hamsters for several reasons and start fighting with them.
Dwarf hamsters will attack their mates with fierceness using their teeth and little claws to bite and scratch, causing serious injuries to their opponent, sometimes even causing death.
What To Do if Your Dwarf Hamsters Are Fighting
If you witness a fight in action between your dwarf hamsters, you must break up the fight and separate the two hamsters for a temporary timeout.
Never reach into the cage with your bare hands to grab ahold of one of the fighting hamsters, or you could end up with a few injuries.
Instead, distract them and break up the fight. Then, with a gloved hand, reach in, grab one of the hamsters, and move it to a different cage for a timeout period.
Alternatively, if you don’t have gloves thick enough to protect your hands, you can attempt to use a cup to capture one of the hamsters.
After the dwarf hamsters have cooled off, put them back together in their cage. You’ll need to keep a close eye on them to ensure another fight doesn’t break out.
If they start fighting again, you may need to separate them permanently.
How Do I Stop My Dwarf Hamsters Fighting?
If your dwarf hamsters suddenly start fighting, there’s likely a good explanation. Here’s how you can try to get your dwarf hamsters to stop fighting:
1/ Give Them Extra Food
Your dwarf hamsters may have started fighting because they feel there isn’t enough food to go around.
Hamsters like to hoard food, so even if you’re putting enough food in their cage to keep them fed, there may not be enough for them to hoard.
They could also fear that they’re going to run out of food. Physiology & Behavior suggested that when dwarf hamsters sense a food source will be restricted, such as during the winter, they can become more aggressive.
To avoid this as a possibility, make sure you’re putting plenty of food in your hamsters’ cage that they can not only eat but also allows them to hoard and build up their food supply.
2/ Get a Bigger Cage
If your dwarf hamsters are overcrowded in their current cage, they may get irritable and start fighting.
They may feel like they’re on top of each other and have no room to spread out and get some alone time.
Get a bigger cage to put them in so they have a more open area to run around and play.
They’ll also enjoy having plenty of space to find an area to be alone and create their nests to store their hoards of food.
3/ Give Them More Toys
Your dwarf hamsters may be fighting because they’re bored or don’t want to share the toys they have.
Give them more toys, like toilet rolls that can be used as tunnels. They may also tear them up and use them to create their nests.
If there is only one hamster wheel in the cage that gets a lot of use, consider putting a second one in so they don’t have to take turns.
4/ Clean Their Cage
Dwarf hamsters may start fighting if they feel uncomfortable living in a dirty cage. If multiple hamsters live together, their cage can quickly become dirty.
Try thoroughly cleaning it. Remove all the toys and wash them. Remove the old bedding and replace it with fresh bedding.
Put everything back in the cage and see if the fighting dies down.
5/ Permanently Separate Them
If you’ve tried everything else to get your dwarf hamsters to stop fighting, you may have to permanently separate them.
Sometimes dwarf hamsters don’t get along no matter what you do to help them. If that’s the case, the only solution is to remove the most aggressive hamster and put it in a different cage.