Anyone who has ever owned a hamster knows they're not silent pets. Hamsters are capable of making a wide assortment of surprising noises, including squeaks, squeals and screams. The sound of a scream coming from your hamsters cage can be very alarming, and it should be, because it is often a sign of distress.
Hamsters vocalize to express a variety of emotions. Your hamster may squeak while being fed or playing with his toy. He may squeal or scream when he is frightened or angry. A large part of interpreting your hamster's vocal noises involves witnessing what is occurring when your hamster makes the noise. It is also helpful if you can figure out what noises are normal for your pet. Some hamsters squeak every time you feed or play with them while other individuals may be largely silent and rarely make a sound. It's not impossible that a hamster might scream intermittently because he has learned he can. Call that one the dwarf that cried wolf.
One of the most common reasons for a hamster to scream is fear. A frightened or startled hamster may let out a scream when something surprises or scares him. If your hamster is frightened of something specific, he may scream at that person or item. Some hamsters who have been mistreated or handled badly scream when new owners attempt to handle them before socialization. Even a socialized hamster could scream if handed over from the primary handler to a stranger.
Screaming can be an aggressive gesture similar to hissing or baring teeth. Hamsters normally flee from predators, but when forced into a confrontation they will often give this warning before attacking. Hamsters may scream at one another during confrontations. If you have to dwarf hamsters in one cage and they get into an altercation you may hear screams. Be prepared to separate them.
Hamsters who are injured or are otherwise in pain may scream, especially if something aggravates the pain. A hamster who is already hurting has little way to tell you he is in pain; screaming is inevitable when an outside force compounds his pain. If you believe your hamster is injured or in pain, you need to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Small hamster image by Vedmochka from Fotolia.com
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.