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Hamster Traits and Behavior: What’s Normal and What’s Not

Hamsters are clever and curious companion animals that make great pets for just about any household. Whether you’re a first-time or experienced hamster pet parent, you may find yourself asking “Is this a normal trait or behavior?” during the course of your pet’s lifetime.

Overall, a healthy hamster is active, alert and sociable. Hamsters are friendly by nature, and curious. Your pet hamster also should have healthy fur and clear eyes. Regularly check your hamster’s food bowl and water source; a happy healthy hamster eats and drinks regularly. When you pick up your hamster, listen to his breathing. The breathing pattern for a healthy hamster is clear.


  • Hamsters are naturally nocturnal. These little night creatures like to play during the night and sleep during the day. But that’s not set in stone. You can get your little friend to start adapting more to your schedule. Carefully wake your hamster (never startle your hamster awake) and hold him, or bring out his hamster ball and let him take a walk. Start setting this up on a regular schedule and you may find that soon he’s awake and waiting for you when you approach his habitat.
  • Hamsters are friendly. Hamsters like companionship and are relatively easy to handle. However, they may nip if they are suddenly awakened from a nap or are startled. And remember, if you have a dwarf hamster, be prepared: these tiny friends can move quite quickly.
  • Hamsters like to chew. That’s because their teeth are always growing. Be sure to provide chew toys and chew sticks, which will help your hamster wear down those constantly growing incisors.

If your hamster displays signs of illness, such as runny eyes, lethargy, coughing or sneezing, or if you see that your hamster is limping or is otherwise in distress, immediately see your veterinarian.