Hamsters spend their days exploring their surroundings and keeping themselves mentally active. Climbing is a fun way for hamsters to stay busy and minimize stress.
Despite their small size, hamsters are good climbers. They can climb up to 25 inches, but most reach around 7-15 inches.
Hamsters dig in their nails and pull themselves up to climb. They can climb stairs, vertical tubes, ladders, and ropes but can’t climb glass and rarely scale walls.
Climbing can signify stress and anxiety, so some hamsters climb to escape their cage. Climbing shouldn’t be considered normal or healthy behavior in hamsters.
Are Hamsters Good at Climbing?
Syrian hamsters are curious creatures, so they scale different equipment within their cage to reach new heights and explore their surroundings.
Climbing also enables them to use their muscles and remain strong. However, they must be able to grip because they’ll slip off smooth surfaces.
Despite being small, Syrian hamsters are proportionately strong. Their small limbs can easily hold their weight and pull them onto higher ledges. Roborovski and Russian hamsters are poor climbers because they lack the muscle strength of larger species.
Hamsters also have lots of energy to burn, as researchers estimate they produce 0.5 joules per second while running on their wheel. Climbing enables them to remain active while expending energy.
Are Hamsters Natural Climbers?
Climbing is natural for hamsters because it enables them to escape predators and burn off energy.
However, hamsters don’t live in enclosures in the wild, so climbing is a learned behavior in captivity. While they climb over small rocks, tree trunks, and wood, they don’t scale vertical heights like cage bars.
Hamsters don’t climb in the wild. Instead, they burrow deep underground. According to Nature Protocols, most rodents display burrowing behavior. Hamsters dig tunnel networks that reach 0.7 meters deep.
Tunnels allow them to store food, evade predators, and shelter themselves from the weather. They don’t need to climb because they spend so much time burrowing.
Do Hamsters Need To Climb?
Hamsters enjoy climbing, and many will scale their cage until they reach the top. They also climb along the bars at the top, called monkey barring.
It can be dangerous, so owners must provide enrichment like tubes, tunnels, cork logs, and bark placed at different heights for hamsters to scramble over.
Unfortunately, climbing sometimes signifies stress and boredom. Some hamsters also climb to escape their cages, which is most likely to happen for these reasons:
- Enclosure’s too small.
- Not enough bedding.
- Insufficient hiding spots.
- The wheel’s stopped turning, and your hamster can’t use it.
- Not enough things to entertain them.
- The environment’s too bright or noisy, so the hamster feels threatened.
According to Animal Welfare, researchers found that hamsters climb onto the roof of their wooden shelters as an additional platform when their cages are too small. In this instance, climbing is essential.
If you provide the right setup and keep the environment semi-cluttered with hideouts, your hamster will feel safe and mentally stimulated.
As a result, it won’t feel the need to climb. Scatter feeding and spreading forage across the top of bedding will encourage a hamster to keep its nose downward instead of climbing.
Similarly, focus on providing deep bedding with the highest section reaching around 12 inches (30 cm). The hamster will abandon the idea of climbing and start to burrow.
How High Can Hamsters Climb?
Some hamsters can climb as high as 25 inches, depending on their climbing abilities and activity levels, while others will manage around 7 to 15 inches.
Syrian hamsters are larger than dwarves, which means they can climb higher. While this seems impressive, the higher they climb, the further they fall.
Unless there’s deep, soft bedding underneath their climbing area to break their fall, they’re at risk of sustaining a painful injury.
Do Hamsters Enjoy Climbing?
Just because one hamster enjoys climbing doesn’t mean they all do. That said, climbing is a way for hamsters to explore their environment, which they do every night.
However, some hamsters become obsessed with climbing and will stop at nothing.
As explained, this stems from stress-related triggers. Bored hamsters are unhappy, and climbing is a substitute for entertainment and enrichment.
Similarly, even though some hamsters enjoy climbing, they can hurt themselves. Because they have such poor eyesight, they can’t always judge what’s in front of them and often miss their step.
As a result, don’t actively encourage a hamster to climb and make the enclosure as safe as possible to prevent accidents.
Can Hamsters Climb Up and Down?
Hamsters climb up and across their cage bars. By the time they reach the top, or as close to it as they can, they drop to the ground due to the following:
- Muscle fatigue.
- Loss of grip.
- The inability to judge their height.
Hamsters can also climb down in the way they climb upwards. It’s far easier for hamsters to climb down if there are cage bars for them to use.
It might also surprise you to know that hamsters can climb upside down. Some find this easier than climbing back the way they came, as the former involves a difficult maneuver.
What Can Hamsters Climb?
Hamsters will only climb things they can reach and get a grip on, like:
- Cage bars.
- Wheel stand.
- Cardboard boxes.
- Climbing frames.
They don’t only climb over or up things, but they climb through things like tunnels and tubes. This mimics a burrow’s secure and protective feeling and provides mental enrichment.
When laying out your cage, don’t put any climbable items too close to the lid, especially if it’s unsecured. A hamster could easily escape by climbing toward the lid and slipping outside.
Can Hamsters Climb Stairs?
Syrian hamsters climb stairs by walking up and down them and making small jumps to gain momentum. Dwarf hamsters may be too small to climb stairs, depending on their determination and condition.
Carpeted stairs are easier for hamsters to climb because they offer better grip, enabling hamsters to use their claws and strong muscles to dig in and pull themselves up.
Unfortunately, wooden stairs are slippery, so hamsters struggle to scale them as easily.
Allowing a hamster to climb stairs is a good way to burn energy and gain mental stimulation. However, because stairs are larger than what hamsters are used to, there’s a higher chance of injury.
Therefore, you mustn’t allow your hamster to scale the stairs unattended.
Can Hamsters Climb Walls?
Wall surfaces are smooth and flat, meaning hamsters can’t get enough grip to scale them.
However, hamsters can climb the corner of a wall by spreading out their limbs and shuffling themselves upward. Similarly, if the wall’s soft enough, they can use their nails to dig into it.
This is unusual, as most hamsters wouldn’t attempt to climb without good reason.
Can Hamsters Climb Vertical Tubes?
Many cages come with vertical plastic tubes that wrap around the outside.
Most have ridges inside that enable them to climb the tubes vertically. They move up and down by pressing their back and rear legs against the sides.
Hamsters love vertical tubes because they mimic the burrows they naturally dig in the ground. However, they make some hamsters lazy because it removes the need to dig tunnels.
Can Hamsters Climb Glass?
Hamsters can’t climb glass or glass walls because the smooth sides make it impossible to dig in their claws and get a grip. This is why many owners prefer using glass tanks over barred cages.
They also can’t chew on the glass, so there’s no risk of their teeth breaking or becoming cracked. If a hamster attempts to climb out of its glass tank, it’s likely due to stress.
Can Hamsters Climb Ladders?
Hamsters can climb ladders but struggle if they’re vertical or set at a steep incline. Placing a small ladder at a 45° angle or less will help your hamster climb it more easily.
However, ladders are problematic because hamsters can get their feet and legs stuck inside small gaps.
Sticking sphagnum moss in the gaps helps prevent injuries and makes ladders feel softer underfoot. You should also be able to find safe and secure ladders in standard pet stores.
Can Hamsters Climb Rope?
Ropes are easy for hamsters to climb because the rough texture means they can cling onto and scale. A rope is a good way to distract hamsters that climb their cage bars.
To do so, hang a thick rope from the roof and place a large amount of bedding underneath to break the fall. Don’t put anything hard underneath, such as a house, hideout, or tunnel.
Climbing is a good form of enrichment for hamsters, as long as it’s done safely to avoid injury.
Monitor the hamster for signs of stress, as climbing can result from environmental frustration. This is most commonly due to a small cage or a lack of fun things to do.