For owners who want to keep two or more hamsters together, Dwarf hamsters are recommended. These species can be kept in pairs or groups as long as they are given adequate space. Most Dwarf hamsters will enjoy company from members of their own species, but Syrian (and sometimes Chinese) hamsters must be kept alone. If kept together, these hamsters will get very stressed, even if they are housed in a large enclosure. For hamsters that can enjoy each others’ company, it’s best to stick to the Dwarf varieties, such as Roborovskis or Winter Whites.
Some hamster varieties can get on with each other, whilst some will not
If you’re planning on keeping several hamsters together, be aware that despite best efforts, there are no guarantees that hamsters will get on. If they don’t see eye-to-eye and fights break out, then you will need to get another cage so that you can keep them separately. If this might be tricky, then you might want to consider opting for a Syrian hamster, which must be kept on its own. Below are some tips and tricks used for keeping multiple hamsters:
- Introduce hamsters when they are young
It’s a great idea to keep brothers or sisters together, as they have known each other since birth. Hamsters that have been brought up together will usually have already sorted out where they stand with one another.
If you can’t adopt hamsters from the same nest, then it’s best to introduce them to one another before they are seven or eight weeks old, as hamsters over this age are likely to react very badly to the introduction of a new hamster.
- Have a big-enough cage
Even hamsters who get along really well will struggle to be friendly with one another if they’re kept in a cage that is too small. To avoid this, you will need to purchase a cage big enough for your species of your pet. Have a look in our housing section for more information.
- Have more than one feeding area
One tip used to avoid fights is to supply each hamster with their own food bowl and water bottle. This can reduce fighting, as hamsters can always eat elsewhere if the dominant hamster is feeling protective of her or his food.
- Be sure of the genders
As we’re sure you’re aware, it’s a good idea to keep animals of the same gender together, rather than animals of opposite genders. If you’re not planning to breed hamsters, we suggest learning how to identify hamster genders before you adopt or purchase your pets. It’s not unheard of for shops to incorrectly sex the animals they are selling, or to simply lose track of the individuals they have at that point in time. Hamsters can reproduce really quickly, and since they are often very territorial, an unexpected litter can mean that you have to buy a lot new cages if owners can’t be found in time.
- Keep an eye on their behaviour
Even hamsters that have been getting on well for a long time have the capacity to turn on each other. Some owners have been startled to find that the hamsters they’ve had for years are suddenly grumpy and irritable with each other, or are even attacking one another. If this begins to happen, then you’ll need to separate your hamsters. If one hamster has drawn another hamster’s blood, is harassing the other hamster, or is preventing another cage-mate from accessing food, then it’s time to separate them. Put the hamster that is harassing the other in a new home for a week or two, and then try and put it back in the main cage, or reintroduce the hamsters on a neutral ground.
If you watch them carefully for a few hours, and after this separation they are still not getting along, then you’ll need to keep them away from each other permanently. This may mean that you have to buy a new cage, but it is what’s best for your pets. It’s not uncommon for these sort of disputes to have really detrimental effects on one or both of your animals, and fights can even prove fatal. To be safe, it’s best to keep warring hamsters apart.