Hearing is a hamster superpower. Their tiny ears aren’t just an adorable feature; they are constantly collecting sound clues from the environment to make sense of their world and stay safe. So although our tiny pals have terrible eyesight, they make up for it with their incredible hearing.
Hamsters have excellent hearing. Although they cannot hear all the lower frequency sounds humans can hear, their hearing extends slightly above 46kHz. Humans usually only detect sound up to around 20kHz. Hamsters produce and respond to ultrasonic sounds that are well out of range for humans.
Hamsters live in a world of interesting sounds that your human ears cannot detect. Many sounds are very stressful to hamsters, so let’s find out what they hear and what to do if you think your hamster is deaf.
How Well Do Hamsters Hear?
Hamsters hear really well! Their hearing range is outside the human hearing range of 20kHz and is therefore called ultrasonic. They hear high sound waves from electronic devices like pcs, televisions, and appliances that may sound entirely silent to you.
What our hamster pals lack in eyesight, they make up for in smell and hearing. Like most burrowing mammals, they are programmed to detect smells or sounds that will alert them to predators or help them find food without needing to see far into the distance.
When hamsters are born, they can’t hear anything at all, but that soon changes as their ultrasonic hearing develops. According to a 2018 study of golden hamster calls published in the Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience, hamster pups and adults emit ultrasonic sounds to communicate. Since hamsters are born deaf, it is most likely a means to ensure their mothers don’t lose them since adult hamsters are super sensitive to sound!
Below is a list of the hearing ranges of humans, hamsters, and some other common pets:
|Humans||20Hz – 20kHz|
|Hamsters||96Hz – 46.5kHz|
|Dogs||67Hz – 45kHz|
|Cats||55Hz – 79kHz|
|Guinea Pigs||150Hz – 50kHz|
|Rabbits||360 Hz– 42kHz|
When it comes to animal hearing, cats are very close to the top of the list for all mammals. However, unlike hamsters, cats don’t use high-frequency sounds to communicate with each other. Their large ears are simply tuned in to hear prey animals… which, in the wild, would include all types of rodents.
Some electronic rodent and insect deterrents work by emitting ultrasonic frequencies to keep pests away from homes. The perpetual stress caused by the sound, which is inaudible for humans, could quickly kill a caged hamster that can’t get away. It would be like having a blaring fire alarm going off non-stop against your ear!
Hamster owners must monitor their pet’s environment and ensure the atmosphere is peaceful. Your hamster will be able to move about confidently in its cage and enjoy its toys and snacks if it isn’t bothered by lots of noise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Hamsters Deaf?
Hamsters are deaf when they are born – in fact, they are also completely blind and bald. But while their eyesight never really takes off, they become intensely aware of sounds around them within a few weeks.
Healthy hamsters have keen hearing and quickly become stressed by loud noises or ultrasonic sounds that are outside human hearing range. It would be quite unusual to own a completely deaf adult hamster.
If you have noticed that your hamster seems unresponsive to sound, you may need to adjust how you handle it to avoid frightening your pet. A startled hamster may bite in defense.
If your hamster is new and freezes or is unresponsive in response to sounds, it may just need time to relax and get used to the new routine. Once it knows your voice and associates you with love and food, it may even start responding to its name.
How To Tell If Your Hamster Has Hearing Damage
If your hamster’s hearing seems to have declined suddenly, it is essential to have it checked out by a veterinarian. While hearing loss may simply be the result of the normal aging process, there may be an underlying issue like mites inside the ear canals or a tumor causing congestion.
Like all animals and humans, hamster hearing can be damaged. Hearing can also decline as they move into old age. Unfortunately, hamsters don’t have a very long lifespan, so symptoms of old age start at as young as 18 months.
Like humans, the University of Toledo found that hamsters can experience lasting tinnitus and hearing loss from loud sounds. Since hamster hearing is far more acute than humans, a noisy machine or children screaming nearby can damage the animal’s hearing and have lasting effects.
If you suspect your hamster is deaf, create slight vibration that it will be able to feel before handling it. You can give it a heads-up that you are nearby by:
- Moving the cage slightly before you reach inside.
- Gently tap on the outside of the cage before you put your hand in so your hamster can sniff your familiar scent.
- Let it get a whiff of the snacks you are about to offer before you touch it – even if your hamster is deaf, it will respond to delicious smelling treats or fresh hay.
Are Hamsters Sensitive To Noise?
Hamsters are very sensitive to noise, and scary sounds can easily stress them. Their fine-tuned hearing has adapted to hear predators approaching. Fortunately, your pampered pet never has to worry about snakes or owls, but there are plenty of household sounds that can stress it.
Hamster owners must be aware of the sounds their pet is exposed to and keep it in a quiet spot, away from electronic devices like PCs or the television. Never place your hamster cage on top of an appliance like a dishwasher or refrigerator – even though they seem quiet to your human ears, it would be very loud and stressful for a hamster.
Because hamsters are prey animals, they are hyper-vigilant and can’t relax if there is a scary sound nearby. That can cause stress, which can be dangerous to your hamster’s health.
Can Hamsters Hear You Talking To Them?
Hamsters can hear you talking to them, but you won’t be able to hear them if they reply. Hammies communicate in the ultrasonic range, which means that it’s outside the range of human hearing – it’s the same way that a dog whistle works and the reason that dogs can hear it and humans can’t.
Your hamster can learn to recognize your voice, and one of the best ways to tame a hamster is to speak quietly and calmly to it. Remember, you don’t have to talk loudly, as your hamster can hear you perfectly even if you speak very softly.
Do Hamsters Like Listening To Music?
Hamsters do not enjoy listening to music. They want peace and quiet or the familiar sound of their owner’s gentle, soothing voice.
If you want to help your hamster cope when there is a thunderstorm or loud noise outside, it is not helpful to turn on background music. It will only add another layer of confusing and scary sound to the situation.
The best comfort for a hamster when it is frightened by unfamiliar sounds is to be able to burrow and hide in a thick layer of comfortable bedding. Place its cage in the quietest area possible. When it comes to music, the sound of silence is definitely the best for hamsters!