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Chinese Hamster


All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Chinese Hamster Library

All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Keeping Pairs

Are you new to Chinese hamsters?

Do you only have space for one cage?

Would you be horrified to find one of your pets had killed the other?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, just get one Chinese hamsterChinese hamsters often fall out with little warning, inflicting serious (potentially fatal) damage on each other. No matter how watchful you are, this is always a risk with a pair.

Everyone knows that Syrian hamsters must live alone as adults. There is no hard and fast rule for Chinese hamsters. Some will live together until they die of old age at 2 years old. Others will fall out before they are six weeks old, with the loser needing surgery to repair the damage done.

If you keep a pair of Chinese hamsters, you need to have a spare cage and essential accessories on hand. It’s hard to predict when a pair is going to fall out (but you can bet it’s going to be when the shops are shut!) Male Chinese hamsters are better than females at living in pairs, so choose males. Be prepared to split them at the first sign of trouble. It’s better to split early than be too late.

Warning Signs

Uneven or plucked patches of fur


One hamster is thinner or smaller

Change in temperament of one hamster 

Chinese hamsters stay in pairs better if kept in small cages so neither can establish a territory. If you prefer to keep your hamsters in cages longer than 50cm then you would be better off keeping a single Chinese hamster.

When choosing toys and enrichment for a pair, make sure they have more than one entrance, for example a bridge or long cardboard tube. This stops one hamster blocking movement of the other in or out. Wheels, if used, should be identical in style.

Food bowls can be a source of conflict for a pair. Scatter feeding reduces this flash point as well as providing a foraging experience.

A deep layer of substrate is beneficial. It allows the hamsters to burrow and hide from each other. Deep substrate also allows for less frequent cleaning and therefore less disturbance to the group scent. Replacing a quarter to half of the old substrate when cleaning the cage also helps with this.

Piling soft hay on top of the substrate also breaks up the lines of sight within the cage and reduces conflict. Just make sure there are no sharp bits in the hay which can injure pouches.

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