How Do Hamsters Defend Themselves? Let’s Find Out

Hamsters are very small animals and therefore they usually prey on other animals. Because of this, hamsters must constantly protect themselves from possible attacks from predators.

So I did some research to find out how hamsters defend themselves.

How do hamsters defend themselves?

Hamsters defend themselves by standing on their hind legs and straightening their paws as a way to defend themselves. They run away, hide, play dead, and use other ways to protect themselves from predators and save their lives.

In today’s article, you will find out how hamsters defend themselves, which predators most often attack hamsters, and similar questions related to the topic.


How do hamsters protect themselves?

Hamsters are always ready to run and save their lives from possible predators.

They have excellent senses that help them to survive especially when they are in the wild, because in domestic conditions in a cage, there is really no threat to their life.

Here are some ways hamsters protect themselves from potential threats:

  • escape
  • hiding
  • biting
  • playing dead
  • climbing
  • aggressive behavior

Let’s look together at all the ways hamsters protect themselves.


If hamsters encounter predators, they immediately run away as fast as they can to save their lives.

The maximum running speed of hamsters is 6 miles per hour, but they still manage to very skillfully escape from much faster predators.

When hamsters run away, they use their senses to the maximum to save themselves from predators, and the very fact that they are small helps them to quickly change the direction of movement, which is their advantage in relation to large predators.

When hamsters run away from predators, they think instantly and use their brains strategically, that is, at the moment of escape, they think about how to save themselves and survive.


When hamsters are in nature, they spend most of their time hiding in tunnels, holes, and hiding places.

Hamsters in nature go out into the open space when looking for food, while the rest of the time they spend in hiding.

If they sense a predator, they immediately run away and hide thanks to their good sense of hearing. Hamsters are very adept at hiding in very small spaces which helps them escape from predators.

They also use their whiskers to gauge how wide the hole they are entering is so they know if they will make it through or get stuck.

Predators cannot enter the small and narrow holes and this is the greatest advantage of hamsters when hiding from them.

Hamsters always choose smaller and narrower spaces because they know that there they are the safest from predators, they do the same at home and choose small spaces for hiding.


Hamsters can also climb just to save themselves from predators.

But if a bird attack the hamster then it will not benefit from climbing as it will probably be caught by the bird.

Climbing can help hamsters to save themselves and escape from predators if they are being chased by a snake or cats and dogs that will not be able to climb a tree until the hamster succeeds.

If the hamster is of the Syrian hamster breed then it will be even more successful in climbing because it is stronger and faster than other smaller breeds of hamsters.

In addition, the hamster’s claws will help it to climb more easily and escape from predators and survive.

Aggressive behavior

Hamsters when targeted by predators may behave aggressively and try to scare the predator away.

They then stand on their hind legs and with outstretched paws try to look intimidating and drive away the predator.

However, when the predators show that they are not afraid of the hamsters, then the hamster immediately changes their tactics and starts to run away.

This position of the hamster can also be noticed when you try to take it in your hands, and it does not want to, then it will stand in a defensive position with straight legs.

If you continue and do not back off then the hamster may bite do hamsters defend themselves


Although hamsters are small animals, they have very sharp teeth, which often save their lives. They may bite predators and gain time to escape from them.

Hamsters can bite predators only to save themselves, not to start a fight with predators.

When the hamsters fight among themselves then it is quite the opposite, then they can injure other hamsters and even kill them by biting and inflicting injuries.

When you start keeping a hamster, he may bite you, but as time goes by, he will get to know you better and won’t bite you anymore.

Play dead

Hamsters know how to play dead to save their lives from predator attacks. This behavior of hamsters is also called thanatosis, or a condition where the hamster lies still dead.

When hamsters play dead, they do it very successfully because they are taught to play the role of a dead hamster very well and save themselves from predators.

On the other hand predators like live prey because they think that dead prey can be sick and therefore they don’t want to attack them.

When hamsters play dead they always do it if they are in great danger or if they are terrified of predators or something else in the environment.

What predators attack hamsters?

Hamsters are unfortunately the target of a large number of predators that attack them if they smell them or if they get in their way.

That’s why hamsters hide all the time through holes in nature, and constantly dig tunnels to protect themselves.

Read more: Why Do Hamsters Bite Themselves? Let’s Discover

Predators in nature

The most common predators that attack hamsters in nature are:

  • jackals
  • eagles
  • kites
  • snakes
  • kestrels
  • owls
  • ocelots
  • jaguars
  • coyotes
  • foxes

Predators in domestic conditions

When the hamsters are in their cage they do not have a threat to their life, but if they are outside it then it can happen that they are attacked by other animals.

Dogs and cats are the biggest threats to indoor hamsters, so you should never let your hamster into your home if you have cats or dogs in the same room.

Maybe your cats won’t attack the hamster, but their animal instincts do their thing.

It is enough for them to attack the hamster only once, which has a very small chance of being saved from their attack.

Read more: Do Hamsters Play Dead? And Why They Do It

What scares hamsters the most?

Hamsters are very sensitive and can be easily frightened. They are afraid if you quickly change their living environment, or if you have another pet in the room.

When the environment is noisy they get scared and hide in the tunnels and hiding places throughout the cage.

Hamsters do not like it when you change the position of their objects in the cage.

New and unfamiliar people in close proximity to hamsters scare them and they may start to defend themselves if someone approaches them, because they think that predators are coming to attack them.

Read more: What To Do When A Hamster Bites You? (Find Out Now)


Although hamsters are small animals, they will do anything to save their lives. They will bite, hide, play dead and other ways just to stay alive and save themselves from predators.

Hamsters are forced to manage as they know and know how to survive in nature because they are usually the prey of other animals that are bigger than them.

Hamsters at home have less danger because they are protected in their cage.

Read more: How To Tame Your Hamster Without Getting Bitten? All Answers