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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.

Customer Images


Pamela, 7 April 2022

When I pet my hamster it will freeze and stick bum up. Now what's up with that? She just started doing this.

Skyla, 29 March 2020

This recently happened to my hamster. I was having a tough time and picked her up. Then suddenly, she froze. I poked her while I was still in tears. She just pointed her ears to me. I guess she was listening to my sobbing. This used to happen to my former hamster, too. She would also point her ears to me whenever I was sobbing. Then, they would both let me pet and cuddle them. It was very soothing for me.

Ben, 28 March 2020

Too the comment above... if your hamster is 3 years old and acting sick... It’s probably because it is and is literally about to die due to old age because 3 is old AF for a hammy

Opal, 1 March 2020

Well. Can anyone answer this? I have had two other hamsters and have never seen this happen. Basically, me and her will be standing and I'll be petting her. Then, my hamster will freeze and then look at my brother's door. After that, she will jump off me and run under my bed.

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