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Can My Hamster Smell Other Hamsters?

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Is it True Hamsters Can Smell Other Hamsters? What Effect Does This Have On Them

can my hamster smell other hamsters

Hamsters, being small rodents commonly kept as pets, have a keen sense of smell. This ability is crucial for them in various aspects of their lives.

They can indeed smell other hamsters and recognize them as members of their own species, but their reactions to these smells can vary based on several factors.

In this article, we’ll explore how hamsters use their sense of smell, how they react to other hamsters’ scents, and what you can do to ensure your pet hamster’s happiness and well-being.

How Do Hamsters Use Their Sense of Smell?

Hamsters rely heavily on their sense of smell for a variety of essential functions:

1. Finding Food: Hamsters have relatively poor eyesight, but can see in the dark and in low light conditions. Therefore, they rely on their sense of smell to locate food sources. They can detect and follow scents to discover seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, insects, and other edible items in their surroundings.

2. Avoiding Danger: Hamsters also use their sense of smell to detect potential threats, such as predators, traps, or poisonous substances. Their acute sense of smell allows them to pick up the presence of animals like cats, dogs, snakes, owls, and other dangers, helping them avoid harm. It also aids in identifying spoiled or contaminated food, which they then avoid consuming.

3. Marking Territory: Hamsters are inherently territorial animals and enjoy marking their boundaries with their unique scent. They have scent glands located on their flanks or hips that produce a musky odor, which they rub on objects or surfaces. In addition to this, hamsters use their urine and feces to mark their territory and deter intruders.

4. Communication: Hamsters use their sense of smell to communicate with each other through the exchange of pheromones. Pheromones are chemical signals that convey information about the hamster’s sex, age, health, reproductive status, mood, and social rank. Hamsters can smell each other’s pheromones and adapt their behavior accordingly.

How Do Hamsters React to Other Hamsters’ Smells?

Hamsters are indeed capable of smelling other hamsters and identifying them as members of their own species. However, their inherently solitary nature means that this recognition doesn’t always translate into amicable interactions. The reaction of hamsters to the smells of other hamsters is influenced by several factors, including:

1. Species: Different species of hamsters exhibit varying levels of sociability and tolerance toward each other. For instance, Syrian hamsters are highly solitary and territorial and do not tolerate the presence of other hamsters in their cage. In contrast, dwarf hamsters are more social and can live in small groups of the same sex or breed. However, even in these cases, competition may arise over resources, space, or mates.

2. Sex: The sex of the hamster plays a significant role in their reactions to the smells of other hamsters. Male hamsters are typically more territorial and aggressive than their female counterparts. Males may attempt to assert dominance or mate with females. Females, on the other hand, can also display aggression toward other females during their estrus cycle or when pregnant or nursing.

3. Familiarity: How well-acquainted the hamsters are with each other affects their reactions. Hamsters raised together from a young age or introduced gradually may form bonds and coexist peacefully. However, hamsters introduced suddenly or without a proper introduction may perceive each other as strangers or threats, which can lead to confrontations.

How to Keep Your Hamster Happy and Healthy?

To ensure the happiness and well-being of your pet hamster, it’s essential to take into consideration their sense of smell and its impact on their behavior:

1. Choose the Right Species: If you intend to house more than one hamster in the same cage, opt for a species that is more compatible with group living, such as dwarf hamsters. Ensure they are of the same sex or breed to prevent conflicts or unintended pregnancies. When moving our hamsters around we have special carry cases to ensure their safe transportation. Ensure that the cage isn’t too small.

2. Provide Adequate Space: Offer your hamster enough space to move around, explore, and avoid feeling cramped or stressed. A spacious cage with multiple levels, hideouts, tunnels, toys, and accessories is necessary. Ensure there are separate food bowls, water bottles, wheels (you can even try wooden wheels too), sand baths, and nesting materials for each hamster.

3. Regular Cage Cleaning: Keeping the cage clean is important to remove any urine, feces, food scraps, or soiled bedding that might cause unpleasant odors or infections. Daily spot cleaning and a weekly thorough cleaning are recommended. Disinfect the cage and accessories using a mild bleach solution or pet-safe disinfectant.

4. Respect Their Territory: Hamsters are sensitive to changes in their environment, so avoid disturbing their territory unnecessarily. Clean the cage only when it’s dirty, and minimize the removal of scent marks or rearranging their belongings. When introducing new items or new hamsters, do it gradually and carefully in neutral spaces or cages.

5. Monitor Their Health: Regularly monitor your hamster’s health and look for any signs of illness or injury. Weigh your hamster weekly to track weight changes and inspect their scent glands for signs of infection or redness. Seek veterinary care promptly if you notice any unusual symptoms.

a hamster sniffing another hamster

In conclusion, hamsters can indeed smell other hamsters and identify them as members of their own species. However, their solitary and territorial nature can lead to aggressive behavior when introduced to unfamiliar hamsters. To ensure your hamster remains healthy and happy, ensure you monitor their behaviour and ensure all of their needs like food and water are met.


Here at Can My Hamster we help people learn all about their fury little friends. What foods they can eat, what things they can do and how to look after them. Please note though, we are not trained Vets we have just looked after Hamsters for many years. So if your hamster is showing any health concerns ensure you get them to a vet as soon as you can.


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