How To Tell If Your Hamster Is Happy

Is your pet hamster high on life — or just a sad little ball of fur?

A new study from England suggests that — just like humans — some hamsters can have a shift in mood, from a gloomy demeanor to a more rosy view of life, for instance. What’s more, the research shows that it doesn’t take a whole lot to boost a hamster’s mood: some hammocks to lounge in, a bit of extra bedding, and a chew toy or two can make a big difference.

“Hamsters are often a child’s first pet and we’ve shown that what goes into a cage (ledges, chews, hammocks and material to dig in) has a positive impact on a hamster’s emotional state and thus, their well-being,” Dr. Nicola Koyama, senior lecturer in ethology at Liverpool John Moores University and a co-author of the study, said in a written statement.

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For the study, the researchers trained 30 male Syrian hamsters to associate sugar water with a drinker placed on one side of an enclosure and to associate bitter-tasting water with a drinker placed at the opposite side. The hamsters quickly learned which drinker in the testing area held which liquid and returned again and again to the sugar water drinker while avoiding the bitter water drinker.

Then half of the hamsters got additional enrichment devices in their cages — such as extra bedding, hammocks, and ledges — allowing the hamsters to live in luxury for about a week. Meanwhile, the researchers reduced the number of enrichment devices in the other hamsters’ cages.

After the animals became habituated to their new homes, they once again were presented with the sugar water drinker, the bitter water drinker, and this time a third drinker was placed in between.

What happened? The hamsters that had been given —> Read More