Squeaking is among the most common sounds hamsters make and has many meanings. It’s a positive and negative sound, making it difficult to determine why a hamster’s squeaking.
Hamsters rely on sound to communicate with other animals and warn each other of dangers. That’s why paying attention to your hamster’s vocalizations is so important.
Why Would a Hamster Squeak?
Squeaking signifies several emotions, but fear and distress are among the most common. While all hamsters squeak in different situations, they’re most likely to do so when:
- Moving home, especially for the first time
- Sick or in pain
- Feeling stressed, agitated, or scared
- Hungry or thirsty
- Unhappy with their owners
However, while squeaking is a negative sound, it can also be positive. Many hamsters squeak when happy, like exploring a cage with lots of enrichment or receiving treats.
As there are many reasons behind this sound, understanding what it means when hamsters squeak can help you determine health, behavioral, and environmental issues.
Note your hamster’s demeanor when you hear it squeak, and check for positive or negative signs.
Why Does My Hamster Squeak at Me?
If your hamster squeaks at you, it’s likely because you’ve done something to alarm it.
While you don’t mean to scare your hamster, sudden movements, such as putting your hand into the cage too quickly, will startle them, especially if you’re going through the taming process.
You may also hear your hamster squeaking when picked up, so it’s telling you it doesn’t want to be handled. There are other reasons why hamsters squeak at you:
- Excited to see you
- Realizes it’s going to get a treat
- Pain or discomfort
- Sad or depressed
In extreme cases, a hamster might be trying to tell you it’s in danger. For example, hamsters are curious creatures and often get stuck in small gaps, particularly if they have tiny tubes in their cage.
In this instance, the squeak will be loud and repetitive until you release it from its predicament.
Why Do Hamsters Squeak at Each Other?
Hamsters squeak at each other when ready to breed.
This loud, persistent mating call commonly occurs when a male and female hamster live in the same room. Hamsters have powerful olfactory systems and can smell each other from afar.
Most hamster species are solitary animals and shouldn’t be kept in the same cage.
If you want to breed a pair of hamsters, put the female into the male’s cage every night during the estrus cycle (when the female’s in heat). This lasts for four days.
Females that become calm when they enter the cage want to breed. If a hamster doesn’t want to breed, it’ll become aggressive and attack the male. In this case, separate them to avoid injuries.
Paired dwarf hamsters squeak to communicate. You may not understand what they’re saying, but they use different-sounding squeaks to let each other know their feelings.
Hamsters squeak while they play. While this isn’t always a negative sound, monitor the hamsters to ensure they don’t become aggressive with each other.
Some hamsters squeak when fighting for dominance and must be separated before they kill each other.
Why Do Hamsters Squeak When They Wake Up?
Many hamsters squeak when they wake up because they want attention.
This behavior is more common with hamsters that feel bonded with their owners. Some hamsters also want to leave their cage and explore their surroundings.
Unfortunately, you’ve likely upset them if you hear your hamster squeak after waking it up. Hamsters dislike being woken before they’re ready to get up, which occurs before sunset and after sunrise in line with their crepuscular sleeping pattern.
Squeaking is a sign of hunger and thirst. Most hamsters placate themselves by emerging from their nesting spot for food and water not long after they wake up.
Hamsters like to stash their food and eat when awake throughout the day. Not only that, but hamsters wake up frequently to graze.
If you’re unsure why your hamster squeaks after waking up, note the frequency of the sound. A persistent squeak signifies discomfort, while the occasional squeak is rarely of concern.
Why Do Hamsters Squeak in Their Sleep?
Hamsters twitch while sleeping, so dreaming is likely, especially as most mammals and birds have dreams.
Hamsters squeak in response to whatever they’re dreaming about. Squeaking is an involuntary reaction when hamsters are in a deep sleep, much like humans talking while asleep.
As squeaking can signify stress, conditions may be too bright and loud for a hamster to sleep properly.
Hamsters are crepuscular, so busy households can be too loud for them to get the rest they need. It’s not uncommon for hamsters to sleep 12-20 hours, especially as they age.
Ensure your hamster’s cage is dark by providing several hides and deep bedding. You should also keep your hamster in the quietest room available with no through traffic to prevent disturbances.
Do Hamsters Squeak Before They Die?
Some hamsters develop labored breathing before they die and produce a squeaking sound. Many health conditions can affect a hamster’s breathing, such as:
- Respiratory infections
Depending on whether the hamster has a health condition or is dying of old age, the sound will take the form of a tiny squeak or sigh. These noises are often interchangeable.
If you hear your old hamster squeaking, prepare yourself for the worst. While this is hard to bear, hamsters deteriorate quickly once they reach the final stages of life.
Why Is My Hamster Squeaking All of a Sudden
Sudden squeaking often signifies a respiratory infection. As well as squeaking all of a sudden, hamsters with a respiratory infection will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
Respiratory infections rarely get better without treatment, so you’ll need to see a vet for antibiotics.
There are many causes of respiratory infections, such as:
- Bacterial and viral infections, such as the common cold and strep throat
- Dusty bedding
- Perfumes and other scented sprays
- Household cleaning materials
The best way to prevent hamsters from getting respiratory infections is clean living conditions, a healthy diet, enough space to exercise, and keeping your hamster’s enclosure away from cold draughts.
Also, if you or anyone in your household gets sick with a cold or respiratory infection, avoid handling the hamster until you recover to prevent making your pet sick. Hamsters can catch colds from humans.
Squeaking is a common and multi-faceted sound. Hamsters rarely squeak without cause, so check them to rule out any obvious health conditions or environmental issues.
Remember, squeaking isn’t always negative because it also signifies that hamsters trust their owners.