Can Hamsters Live Together in the Same Cage?
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Hamsters can be wonderful companion animals. They are especially popular with children and they can bond much stronger than many imagine. Since hamsters are such great companions to us, many caregivers wonder if we can provide them with their own companionship when we are not around. For this reason, they ask can hamsters live together in the same cage?
At AnimalWised, we share all you need to know about two more or hamsters living together. We explain what is required for this to happen peaceably and what breeds work best in groups.
General characteristics of hamsters
To know whether hamsters can live together in the same cage, we should first find out a little about them. One of the most popular companion animals, they are small, friendly, curious and relatively easy to care for. Unfortunately, being such a small rodent, they have a relatively short life expectancy. They usually only live to about 2-3 years, even with the best of care.
Hamsters reach sexual maturity at about 4-5 weeks of age, much sooner than other companion animals such as cats and dogs. For this reason, we have to consider when they will need to be removed from their mother, although most hamsters are adopted when already grown. We should bear in mind their short life expectancy when educating children about their care.
Another issue with keeping hamsters as pets, is they are mainly nocturnal animals. This means they are most active at night and spend much of their day resting. Disturbing them from their sleep can cause general stress and anxiety, something we also need to be careful with when living with children. Despite their popularity, there are still many misconceptions about hamster care which can adversely affect the welfare of the animal.
One example of misunderstandings over hamster care is whether they can live together. Since hamsters are small animals, they can be housed in relatively confined spaces. This makes people want to adopt more than one, especially because they want the hamster to have company. Below, we show you the characteristics of hamsters and their life cycle by asking common questions about their co-habitation.
Is the hamster a social animal?
If we are thinking of adopting more than one hamster, it is important to know whether they are social. Social animals live in groups which work together for their survival. Hamsters are not social animals. Not only are they solitary rodents, they are very territorial. If another hamster enters their territory, it is most likely they will fight them to defend it.
For those still wondering can hamsters live together in the same cage, the answer is almost always no. There are several different hamster breeds, including the Syrian, Golden and Chinese hamster. All these hamster breeds share the trait of not getting along well with other hamsters. They must live alone, in their own cage. This hamster cage should be at a temperature of about 20-22 ºC/68-71 ºF.
Although solitary animals, this doesn't mean we cannot interact with hamsters. We can manipulate and hold them, but only when they are receptive. They can live in the same home as dogs and cats, but in most cases they need to be kept away as the hamster may fear they are a predator. If you do think you can socialize a cat with a hamster, take a look at our article which asks can a cat and a hamster live together?
Proper care for hamsters requires feeding them right and ensuring we observe for any health problems. Common health problems in hamsters are often related to hygiene, especially this parasites and bacteria. They are also prone to obesity, so we need to know all we can about their diet. The video we share below provides a general guide to caring for hamsters which can help you get started.
What happens if two hamsters live together?
As we have stated above, hamsters are solitary animals which should not live with others. Their territoriality means that, if cohabitation is enforced, it can lead to serious problems with stress. The hamsters will likely become aggressive towards each other. This is the especially the case if you keep two males or two females together in the same cage.
There are some exceptions to this situation and there are occasions where some hamsters can live together peacefully. However, if something in their environment changes, they can easily turn on each other. Their fighting can be so vicious that it results in a fatality. This is why we recommend all hamsters should live alone in a cage which allows them to enact all their natural behaviors.
Reproduction in hamsters
In nature, the time when hamsters most commonly get together is when they need to breed. We do not recommend you breed your hamsters. Although a wonderful pet, there are sufficient breeders of domestic hamsters who have the proper resources to care for them. Additionally, reproduction of hamsters can increase the likelihood of certain diseases, such as cancer.
Related to reproduction, some guardians keep a male with a female hamster together if they are from the same litter. While they may be able to coexist well at the beginning, once they reach sexual maturity, they will try to mate with each other. We should ensure they are separated before this can happen, both to avoid unwanted pregnancy and to ensure their safety.
If you have two hamsters living together, but are not sure of their sex, take a look at our article on how to tell a male hamster from a female.
How to stop two hamsters from fighting
Now that you know that you cannot have two hamsters together, the best way to prevent fights is to separate them. For example, if you are caring for a pregnant hamster, you will need to ensure you have separate cages for their young for when they reach sexual maturity. Otherwise, the siblings will fight with each other, sometimes violently.
Fighting is not the only problem which can occur when a hamster gives birth. Female masters are known to eat their young during the lactation period. This usually occurs because the mother does not have enough protein, so we need to enrich their diet after they give birth. We also need to ensure they remain in a calm and stress-free environment.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Hamsters Live Together in the Same Cage?, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.
- Ateuves Magazine (2016): «Hamster diseases: what are the most common problems of these animals?».