You just brought home two adorable hamsters and you wonder if they'd get along. You have two cages but one would take up less room? Can hamsters be housed together? That depends on many factors. As a pet grandparent who's had experience with several hamsters, I can tell you with experience that it largely depends on each situation. However, in many cases, it isbest to house hamsters separately.
Hamsters from the same litter may do well together when young. If two hamsters of the same sex (male only) from the same litter are housed together from birth, they may do well continuing that way. However, that isn't always the case. Females cannot be paired with other females or with males. Hamsters are very territorial. Therefore, they may start fighting or worse. If you are uncertain whether your related hamsters were housed together, it's better to have them in separate cages. We go the safe route with our hamsters because we don't want them to get hurt. They each have their own cage.
Never put hamsters of the opposite sex together. Remember not to house a male and female together, as they will almost certainly breed. While baby hamsters may be cute, breeding is only recommended by the professionals. Also, female hamsters tend to get quite aggressive with males after the breeding process and it can be dangerous for both hamsters. Then, you also have the problem of creating unwanted pets. Are you really going to keep up to 15 baby hamsters once they are weaned? If so, do you have the means to do so? There is also the issue of the legal limits on the number of pets you can have without being a licensed facility. Never ever intentionally breed hamsters, unless you have the proper license and ample room to do so.
Hamsters like their space. Because hamsters are creatures of habit and very territorial, it can be difficult when they are housed together. Each hamster will have a certain space where they like to use the bathroom, a certain eating area, a certain area where food is stored, a sleeping area, and so on. If one hamster wants an area for one use and another wants it for something else, conflict will arise. When hamsters are housed together in the same cage, this puts them at greater risk of danger because of these issues and more.
Some breeds will do better together than others. Certain hamster breeds will do better in pairs,like dwarf hamsters. But our dwarf hamsters are not fond of each other. We can tell this even with them in separate cages. Syrian hamsters are especially territorial. The general rule with housing hamsters is that if they were not raised together or if they were separated at any point, do not even try to put them together. Even if they do well together, you will need to provide ample space for each hamster to create their own space. In other words, the cage should be considerably large and offer plenty of burrowing room, hiding places, separate feeding and watering stations, and more.
When in doubt, play it safe. If you can't figure out whether you should house your hamsters or not, your best bet is to refrain from doing so. The safety of your hamsters is more important than whether they are in the same cage or not. While your hamsters may enjoy playing together, hamsters are generally solitary creatures. Our Russian dwarf hamsters enjoy human interaction, but not interaction from other hamsters. Our Roborovski hamster does not enjoy interacting with people or other hamsters. All three of them have very distinct personalities. Therefore, when in doubt, play it safe and house your hamsters separately. Their lives may literally depend on it.
*Please note that the information contained herein is solely from the author's personal experience with hamsters. She is not a licensed professional. Always consult your hamster's licensed veterinarian for information pertaining specifically to your pet's well-being.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network