Hamsters are small rodents, usually kept as a pet by younger children. Although usually energetic, an unhappy hamster can show quite a few signs of being sad.

Different hamsters have different personalities. Some may enjoy human attention, while others may feel the same by running in the spinning wheel.

The most common symptom of sadness or unhappiness hamsters show is being lethargic.

This means that the unhappy hamster will have a lack of energy and prefer sleeping and resting over playing.

In order to make your hamster happy, try reading six ways to make your hamster happy to make it feel better.

Signs of unhappiness

If your hamster is unhappy, it will find a way to show it.

Unhappy hamsters will never be playful and curious unless they are in a new territory.

Rodent biting cage bars

Biting the cage

An unhappy hamster may chew its cage, whether it’s made of plastic or metal.

This can be because of two reasons:

  • Keeping their teeth short
  • Wanting to get out

Read: Why do hamsters like chewing tough materials?

Hamsters need a lot of space for exploring and playing.

Therefore, a big enough cage is crucial for their happiness.

The most common cause of an unhappy hamster is its small cage.

The minimum cage dimensions should be around 24×12 inches (or 60×30 centimeters).

Unfortunately, most pet shops sell cages that are not big enough. Even worse, they do it for a lot of money.

Another disadvantage of this is that your hamster may chew its cage and get out. Therefore, you will need to patch it or get another one.


Firstly, make sure that your hamster’s cage dimensions exceed a minimum of 24×12 inches (or 60×30 centimeters).

Having higher plastic or wooden floor in the cage can make the hamster happier as well.

Hamsters are in need to chew tough materials in order to keep their teeth healthy. For this reason, you can put something in a cage that your hamster can bite and chew on.

Pet shops usually sell mineral bricks for hamsters. Most hamsters love this because it’s comfortable to chew on.

A good alternative to this is a piece of wood. It’s also the most natural thing hamsters may have in their cage.

They can also chew on something softer, such as paper towel roll. Another benefit of this is they can play with it by hiding in it or rolling it.

However, the cage floor can get messy so it will require cleaning. By saying so, we will move onto the next sign of an unhappy hamster – lack of cleaning.

Syrian hamster in a soft floor bedding

Lack of cleaning

Most hamster cages should be cleaned once a week. This is true unless the hamster cage is huge, in which case cleaning can be delayed to once in 2 weeks.

However, some hamsters may poop more frequently than others. In this case, you may have to clean their cage every 3-4 days.

Hamsters are clean animals – they groom themselves often and mark their “toilet spot”, usually in the corners.

If you do not keep their cage clean, they may lose this instinct and therefore poop everywhere and remain unclean.

A dirty cage and its bedding may result in hamsters being stressed. It may even be fatal to their life, especially if it’s dirty most of the time.

If cage bedding is dirty and wet, hamsters have a high chance of developing a wet tail. This illness can be fatal to your hamster.


Begin cleaning your hamster’s cage more often. Even if it’s a bigger one, make sure to clean it at least once a week.

Make sure there is no wet or dirty bedding, which can make your hamster sick.

If the hamster’s “toilet corner” is wet, either replace it with fresh bedding or put some dry bedding on top of it.

Always remove rotten fruit or vegetables you may have put in the cage before.

In order to fully clean your hamster’s cage, read how to fully clean your hamster’s cage.

This will ensure your hamster always lives in a clean environment, thus preventing wet tail.

Small rodent climbing cage bars

Hamster climbing cage

This is common if your hamster bites its cage already, which is another indicator of a small cage.

However, even if its cage is big enough, climbing its bars may happen as well.

An unhappy hamster may climb its cage bars if it is bored.

This is bad because the hamster can fall from a high place or on something hard and hurt itself.


You can try reading six ways to make your hamster happy so it does not climb its cage anymore.

This will ensure your hamster remains happy and safe, as it should be.

Lethargic hamster sleeping

Hamster being lethargic

Lethargy in hamsters makes them being tired and sleepy most of the time. They move only when searching for food.

This is not natural because hamsters are very active and energetic animals.

It may be due to the hamster’s old age, sickness, or unhappiness. Therefore, the best advice is to get it looked by a veterinarian.

A small cage and lack of toys to play with can also trigger lethargy in your hamster.


To make sure your hamster is healthy, take it to a veterinarian.

If the hamster is sick, take care of it by following the veterinarian’s advice.

However, if it’s healthy but lethargic, it means that you have an unhappy hamster.

This illness can be cured by keeping your hamster active and entertained.

I highly suggest you read six ways to make your hamster happy, which will surely help cure its lethargy.

White brown hamster grooming

Too much grooming

It’s completely normal to a hamster to groom itself.

As said before, hamsters are very clean and gentle animals. Therefore, they often groom themselves, sometimes even right after waking up.

However, if you see your hamster groom itself for too long or too often, you should be concerned.

Excessive grooming may be a symptom of an issue with their skin or fur.

In such a case, you should take it to a veterinarian because your hamster can have:

  • Skin irritation
  • Unclean fur
  • Mites
  • Parasites
  • Allergy
  • Dry skin


If you notice that your hamster has unclean fur, you can try to brush it with a small amount of warm water. Do so by using an old, clean toothbrush.

Make sure to clean all the dirt from its fur, then put the hamster in a dry, warm place.

It’s safe to take your hamster to a veterinarian, just in case it’s being a host of parasites or has other skin issues.

In such a case, the veterinarian will take care of the hamster and tell you the treatment you should follow.

White calm rodent

Unhappy hamster pacing

In other words, running across the cage back and forth, pacing can be a serious indicator of stress.

An unhappy hamster may pace in its cage because of too much stress.

Stress can be caused by many things, and hamsters are very sensitive animals.

Some of the things you should consider, as they may have triggered hamster anxiety, are:

  • Light changes (not enough light or dark, or even too much light changing)
  • No toys
  • No playing with hamster (lack of social contact)
  • Too much noise (commonly vacuum cleaner or loud talking)
  • Change in feeding
  • Change in cleaning
  • New environment
  • Unknown or new smells
  • Not playing gently
  • Hamster is in pain


Make sure to keep your hamster in a warm and possibly quiet place most of the day.

Do not turn lights on and off too often. A night lamp near the hamster’s cage is a good idea.

Avoid playing or going close to hamsters if you have a strong perfume. Hamsters are very sensitive to smells.

Ensure the unhappy hamster has enough toys to play with, as well as things to keep it busy.

Reading six ways to make your hamster happy may help you achieve some of these requirements for a happy hamster.

If your hamster is still pacing in the cage, take it to a veterinarian. Explain what happens and what did you do to prevent it. The veterinarian will most likely know what’s wrong and help you prevent anxiety in your hamster.


Angry light orange hamster

Aggressive hamster

Hamsters can get aggressive if they feel threatened. This usually happens if they are in a new environment.

Although it shouldn’t take long for them to calm (not more than a day or two), hamsters can be aggressive for other reasons.

If your hamster is under stress, which can cause it to bite you if you try to hold it or play with it, try leaving it alone for some time.


Firstly, make sure your hamster is not under any stress. Symptoms of hamster anxiety are listed under the Pacing title.

You can build trust with your hamster if you let your hand often in its cage. This way hamster recognizes that you do not want to cause any harm.

It can take weeks until your hamster trusts you, but it will be worth it.

Try holding letting your hamster walk on your hand. Gradually change this to lifting your hand and maybe even walking around with your hamster.

Another method you can try is giving your hamster snacks like apples or carrots, from your hand.

Therefore, the hamster will start to trust you and not be aggressive towards you anymore.

However, if your hamster stays aggressive, make sure to take it to a veterinarian because there may be an illness causing the aggressive behavior.


Always make your hamsters happy.

They are very sensitive animals and you should take care of them.

By giving love, care, and attention to your hamster every day, it will love you with every cell of its body.

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