How can I stop my hamster from biting the bar of her cage?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Owning a hamster, you must have noticed them chewing on the bars of the cage sometimes.

And like everyone else, you must be curious to know why they’re doing this too.

So how can you stop your little pet from doing this?

Because this mostly happens due to boredom, give them lots of entertainment. Get them a large cage and add more toys for them to play with and chew on so they don’t bite the cage. As a last resort, you can put lemon juice on the bars. Otherwise, you can simply get a glass cage with no bars.

However, you still need to understand what causes this behavior. 

So stick around and keep reading on!

Why hamster bite the bars of cages

It must be quite normal for you to wake up to the sound of your hamster chewing on the bars of their cage and you going “Not again”. This is something hamsters do due to certain reasons like:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Boredom

Here’s what causes these in hamsters and how you can eliminate them: 

Stress/Anxiety

At times, you find your hamster biting the cage bars due to stress. Other than this, being the owner it’s normal to be worried in such condition so you must know what’s stressing out the hamster.

As they are creatures who like to explore and investigate in the wild, living in a cage isn’t that exciting for them. Moreover, it’s a small place with not much around to do.

So when your hamster is stressed or anxious, this is how you know it. Biting the cage is a very definitive sign that your hamster is stressed out.

Depression/Boredom

Living in a tiny cage with nothing much to do and having few toys around is depressing just by imagining. That’s why, hamsters need things to keep themselves busy and live through the day, just like humans. 

Exploration can beat boredom in the case of a hamster, but again in a cage, there isn’t much to look. The other way is to install a hamster wheel in their cage. It is a great activity for the little pet and doesn’t need much supervision.

Not only should you place a hamster wheel, but also various kinds of chew toys should be placed as well in the cage to keep your hamster busy. 

Apart from this, loneliness and boredom also lead to depression which in hamster’s case would be bad. The small brain of the hamster can’t handle this much depression and thus they start chewing on the bars.

Why hamster wheels are the best

Here’s the deal:

You must always keep a hamster wheel in the cage at all times. The hamster plays on it and uses up all the energy so they can rest when it’s time. You might decide to remove the wheel from the cage due to the noise which doesn’t let you sleep at night, but it will just make them more stressed and lead to chewing bars.

It’s understood that the noise is frustrating when you need to sleep at night, but the hamster has to drain all the built-up energy in them as well. It surely will be best for both of you if you let it be functional. 

On the contrary, there are hamster wheels available that make close to zero noise. So not only will your hamster be able to run happily, but you could also get a peaceful night sleep. 

Well, these are all of the ways for your hamster to get rid of the nervous energy. There are more friendly and beneficial ways to do this:

  • Giving your hamster their favourite treats
  • Not disturbing them while running on the wheel
  • Playing sessions before bedtime

These little things can be put into practice to make your hamster happier and healthier, both physically and mentally.

Your hamster might want your attention

It’s common for hamsters to need their owner’s attention. So to do that, they suddenly start chewing on the bars to get noticed. Here are some ways you can fight this problem:

  • Playing with them
  • Spending quality time with them
  • Letting them out of the cage for a while

However, you need to look after certain things when giving them attention. Do not play with them or get them out of the cage as a reward of chewing the bars. They observe the behavior of the owner and know which of their behavior leads to what reaction.

A simple practice could be done in this case. When you find your hamster trying to get your attention by chewing the cage bars, wait until they stop after which you can get them out and play. This way, they learn to have patience and wait.

Furthermore, some studies show that hamsters tend to have mood swings which lead to such behaviors. A sudden need for socializing is the outcome of these mood swings.

What you have heard about their teeth is right

All of those things that you have heard about your hamster’s teeth are right. Four of their teeth at the front indeed grow throughout their life. Also, it’s true that if they don’t chew their teeth, they would outgrow, and that can be a problem. Chewing helps them keep their teeth at a healthy length.

You must be thinking that chewing bars is ideally the right thing for the hamster to do, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The metal bars are too hard for the hamster teeth. Compared to this, they need a chew toy which is safe for them to chew on.

Due to chewing on metal bars, the teeth lose their alignment forever and have to be trimmed after every while. If they are ignored, they can grow into the brain of the hamster and result in death. To clarify, their teeth can kill them if not taken care of.

Dangers of biting the cage

Hamster biting the cage is a sign of stress level increasing which is something to be concerned about. In addition to this, the metal bars might be containing elements that are a little too much for your hamster to handle so they make them sick.

Some of the metals are also toxic for hamsters to bite on. These metals are another problem for your hamster. So make sure you get the perfect cage for your hamster which won’t affect its health and minimize the stress level on them.

Correspondingly, the metal of the bars is hard enough to break the teeth of the hamsters. This would be very painful for them and you as well as you might have to see the bloody mouth of your little pet.

If one tooth breaks the other one starts to grow over it and this can turn out to be a serious dental problem for your hamster.

The last solution

After going through all of these things, there are two last steps for you to stop your hamster from biting the cage bars:

  • Pour lemon juice or vinegar on the bars
  • Get a larger glass cage for the hamster

The lemon juice or vinegar isn’t that appealing to the hamster. Putting it on the cage bars would help get the hamster to stop biting them

Shifting the hamster to the larger cage that’s made of glass would also give them more time to explore and play around. Since there are no bars there, the hamster would spend more time on the wheel.

Conclusion

It’s normal to freak out when you catch your hamster biting the cage bars in the middle of the night. They may be stressed out, or want some kind of attention, or maybe bored and have to use up the energy in them. 

Giving them more chew toys, a good quality wheel, and some playing time before bed to stop them from stressing out or being depressed. Their energy is used in positive areas and this might help them and the owner.

Chew toys are necessary for them to make sure their oral hygiene is going fine and should be regularly checked. The cage must be of glass so the hamster does not even get the chance to chew on metal and destroy their teeth.

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