Hamsters rely on body language cues to show us how they feel. One of the most common examples is yawning, where the hamster’s mouth is opened wide, displaying its long teeth.
Usually, a hamster yawning signifies happiness and contentment. Hamsters will yawn and stretch upon waking up early in the evening, ready for a night of foraging, exploring, and running on their wheels.
Some hamsters yawn to demonstrate relaxation. If the hamster sees you enter a room and yawns in front of you, it likely means that it feels pleased to see you and comfortable in your presence.
A yawn can signify tiredness. If the hamster yawns during free-running, consider returning it to its cage. Hamsters are active animals, but their activity tends to be in short bursts.
Yawning can denote stress or boredom for the hamster. Often, these are two sides of the same coin for small animals, so always stay on top of providing entertainment.
Over time, you’ll learn the quirks and foibles of your pet, including what it means when a hamster yawns. Pay close attention to a hamster’s behavior immediately before and after yawning.
Why Does My Hamster Yawn?
While the reasons for yawning are usually positive, some explanations have negative connotations. Let’s take a closer look at the most common explanations for this behavior:
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? We’re willing to guess that you give a big yawn and stretch your limbs, releasing euphoric endorphins. Well, the same explanation applies to hamsters.
Monitor the hamster in the early evening when it starts to stir from its long daily slumber.
It’s almost certain that the hamster will emerge from its bedding and stretch its body to full length while letting out a significant, albeit silent, yawn.
If so, the hamster had a long and comfortable sleep and is preparing for an eventful night.
Hamsters yawn to show their owners they feel completely relaxed and safe in their company. If you’re handling a hamster and it yawns, you’ve likely bonded well with your pet.
Watch a hamster that yawns in its cage. Often, this yawn will be accompanied by grooming – either the hamster will clean itself or take a sand bath to remove any grease and oils on the fur.
Hamsters are meticulously clean animals. However, they only groom when they feel calm and relaxed.
Hamsters love to explore outside their cage. Given their enjoyment of running on a wheel, you’d be forgiven for thinking that hamsters like to exercise for hours.
In reality, hamsters prefer to spend time outside the cage in short bursts.
The Journal of Ethology explains how wild hamsters spend an average of just over an hour above ground foraging for food. These expeditions are divided into multiple shorter trips of around five minutes.
This is due to safety concerns, as predatory animals can be found everywhere. Hamsters are at the bottom of the food chain and won’t expose themselves to unnecessary risk.
Captive hamsters feel safe in a home once you earn their trust, but energy reserves remain limited.
Watch the hamster when you remove it from the cage for play and exercise. You’ll likely find it’s extremely active before it slows down and yawns.
Some hamsters yawn to demonstrate a disgruntled feeling, often due to boredom.
Life can be pretty dull and restrictive for a caged hamster. If you’re not careful about meeting its care needs, the hamster may try to escape its cage to get freedom and seek adventure.
A wheel for the hamster to run on will be highly beneficial, but this alone isn’t enough to amuse a small animal. You should add the following to a hamster’s cage to keep it enriched and entertained:
- Tubes and tunnels for the hamster to explore.
- Chew toys and things to shred.
- Furnishings for hamsters to climb.
- Hiding places, from toilet roll tubes to wooden huts.
- Concealing treats in the substrate so that it can forage for food.
Avoid exercise balls, as most hamsters feel trapped and find the experience stressful.
Stress and Anxiety
Although an uncommon reaction, some hamsters yawn to denote that they’re stressed or afraid. In this instance, the hamster attempts to intimidate a threat by showing its teeth.
If the hamster hisses while yawning, give it space to calm down. Something is upsetting the hamster, and if you attempt to handle it at this point, you risk being bitten.
Use this opportunity to consider what may have sparked such a reaction. Consider the following:
- Have you petted another animal, introducing the scent of a predator to the hamster’s cage?
- Did you accidentally mishandle the hamster in some way?
- Have you made excessive noise, disturbing the hamster’s sleep before it was ready to rise?
If you’ve answered no to these questions and can’t think of a good reason why the hamster should be upset, consider seeking the advice of an animal behavioral therapist or vet.
How To Make A Hamster Yawn
Hamsters are adorable small animals, so watching them yawn only adds to the experience. To see a hamster yawn, you must create a positive scenario.
The best way to make a hamster yawn is as follows:
- Cup your hands, waiting for the hamster to climb into them.
- Let it settle in your hands.
- When it’s calm, trace your index finger from the top of its head to the tail.
- Keep applying this light pressure down the back without sudden movements.
If you’re gentle, the hamster will relax into the palm of your hand and yawn with pleasure. It may even doze off. Once you’ve made the hamster yawn and seen what it looks like, put it back in its cage.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all hamster yawns are positive actions. The hamster is likely yawning because it feels good, but there could be a negative explanation.