Why Does My Hamster Suddenly 'Freeze'?

A hamster will 'freeze' temporarily due to fear or surprise. Their eyesight is poor, so they need to listen and sniff to work out what's going on. You can alter your hamster’s environment to make it less stressful. Making sure there are no other pets on the prowl, and keeping sudden noises to a minimum, is a good start.

This 'freezing' behavior is not usually due to a health condition. However, if your hamster does it all the time you might want to get him checked by a vet.

hamsters stay still
Sometimes hamsters freeze, listening out for danger - the hazard in this photo is obvious enough!

The usual cause of hamsters stopping still is fear. If the pet is new, this is bound to happen in the early days. It will be a strange environment for the pet, and there will lots of new things to get used to. Hamsters are made nervous by threatening noises. This could be something not immediately obvious to you, such as a noise on the TV, cell phone or radio. Like all the rodents, hamsters have very good hearing. Have you watched squirrels 'freeze' in the local park? It's the same thing going on there.

By stopping moving, a hamster can focus its senses on the threatening/unusual sound or smell. In the wild, freezing when they hear a noise allows them to judge whether there's any danger around, reducing their chances of being spotted by a predator.

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Nathan, 22 April 2019

My hamster is pushing on 3 years now and is beginning to get pretty sick or at least it seems that way, we’ve tha Ken him to the vet beffore about a problem with his eye which they could not do anything about and now it has compleatley closed up and he can’t see out of it, but I have another concearn, not only has he got little lumps all over him but also his feet keep on sealing a kind of residue and also whenever I pick him up he doesn’t wake up he just kind of cracks open his eye and stares at me while he has flopped in my hands, then I put him on my knee and it’s like he’s paralysed or something because he just falls over and goes back to sleep, but he can still walk but he will only walk to get food and he has only been eating a tiny amount recently, like I said he is very old but also his hair has started falling out and I don’t know what on earth to do because he’s had a great life with everything that a healthy hamster would need, he hasn’t been kept in a cage, he’s been in a large DIY pen but with loads of safe spots and a good varied diet... please can someone help me because I’m so worried about him

Autumn, 21 March 2019

My hamster keeps on staying in her play tube for a long time I just got it yesterday it's 4 months old I think but I'm worryied

Kemikmorrison, 16 February 2019

My hamster , at night when I check on him, he freezes, and looks curious,when I pick him up he sleeps for abou five to ten minutes on my lap, is this normal, he is four months old, and I have been training him, he responds well. He just seems to sleep an awful lot, normal?he eats, well,and likes his water and treats, Kemikmorrison.

Marissa, 30 December 2018

My hamster is only about 5 months and tonight he made a sound very loud and move then I picked him up and put him on my bed and he frozen and curled up I am still in fear what happened

Jasmine, 22 August 2018

I’m still not sure wether I should go to the vet or not. My hamsters freeze sometimes but they are very reluctant to move they just sit there and I’m worried. It’s not like it’s in the morning so when they would be sleeping it’s normally afternoon or early evening we get them out for some exercise. Lately they just don’t want to run around they just sit and I’m worried about them.

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