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Gerbils & Hamsters/Hamster noises & changed behaviour


Hi there
I'm really hoping you can shed some light on my hamsters recent change of habits.
Fistly she fairly suddenly started getting up later and being less active, so she is no longer awake before my son goes to bed and as a result we see a lot less of her.  She also doesn't seen to be as active at night.  Well I wondered if that was maybe as it was getting colder.  But now she is also making a lot of different noises,  sort of quiet squeeking and chattering and teeth grinding etc etc...  She makes these almost all the time when she is not asleep and even to herself, I can  hear her in her nest muttering away to herself.
When she is out and being handled she seems herself, just as lively and freindly (still muttering with her teeth though) but I was worried the faint squeeking was a sign she was ill or in pain or something.  I don't remember her doing much of this before, maybe very occasionally.
She is only about 1 year and has the best diet and lifestyle we can manage.  Lots of space (6 cages linked together) as well as time out in the room and fresh food daily, along with a few live meal worms from time to time and of course normal food.  I just wondered if there was anything that could be wrong as I would like to do something for her if I can.
Thanks very much for any advice you can give!

Hi Helen

I'm really sorry for the late response.  I thought I'd sent a reply, but obviously not!

Hamsters can make noises - squeaking, snoring etc.  These are normal, even if they suddenly start making them.  However, teeth grinding is usually to warn someone off because the hamster is scared.  

The fact that she is happy to be handled is good news - as the first thing that came to mind was that perhaps she is unwell.  Hamsters are very prone to developing tumors around the age of about 18 months, and when these grow often you can't see any outward signs for a long time.  The only clue you tend to get is a noticeable increase in water consumption.  With abdominal tumors, because you don't know they are there, if you handle a hamster and it hurts them they can make a sound or become aggressive.

Have you tried to look in her mouth?  Another thing could be that her teeth are an issue.  Their teeth grow all the time and they need to grind them down.  If they overgrow, or if one tooth breaks the others grow lopsided.  In cases like these they do tend to keep grinding their teeth.  Have a look if you can - check that each pair is the same length, and the long teeth aren't overgrown (they do appear long in any case).  If you're not sure what is normal you could have a look on You tube as there are a number of videos on checking hamster teeth.  If one is broken or they are lopsided or overgrown you may need to trim them.  You must be careful when doing this as if you use the wrong tools for the job you can splinter the teeth, or injure the hamster.  If you are in any doubt it is worth getting a vet to do this.

Other than that I would suggest you just monitor her and see if there are any other symptoms that might shed some light on why her behaviour has suddenly changed.

I hope this helps you.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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