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Old 01-11-2019, 04:58 AM   #1
Andyg
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Default Male hamster pair behaviour

Hi

We have two dwarf male hamsters, Eric & Ernie, who live together as a pair. They are from the same litter, and are about 3 months old now.

They co-exist mostly really well. Eric is clearly dominant, and pushes Ernie over from time to time. They have a large house with two rooms - and generally have their own favourite room they sleep, or sleep together. However, recently, Eric has become obsessed with smelling/licking the private area of his brother.

Most of the time, Ernie, ignores him, but at night, Eric can sometimes become obsessed with smelling Ernie, and follows him around the cage and even pulls him off the wheel. Ernie loves running, and so just wants to get on the wheel.

As far as we can see, Eric doesn't bite or attempt to bite his brother - but it's clearly annoying Ernie, and that causes him to squeak. This behaviour is not constant, and seems to be more pronounced at some times than others.

Other than that, they get on extremely well and don't fight, share food (Ernie is the foodie and does squeak sometimes when food gets offered to Eric first).

Could anyone tell me what this behaviour is? Is it related to mating? Is Eric hoping that Ernie is suddenly going to be a girl or something.

We don't really want to separate them, as 95% of the time they're really cute and content, and are real buddies. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:09 AM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

I'm not really sure what might be going on with your hams tbh but I do know that biting often begins around the tail area so you will need to be sure that there isn't any actual biting going on.
It does sound as though this must be quite stressful for Ernie & the beginning of them falling out, this usually happens as they mature & want their own space so you do need to be prepared to separate them.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:14 AM   #3
souffle
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

Are they definitely two males? This is quite like the behavior you see when the female is in heat. Can you post some pics of the undersides.
They are at the point of real maturity now and a time when fights very commonly break out at 3-4 months. Hormones will be running riot too so you need to watch them very closely for fighting and also mental stress. One may be trying to dominate the other eg the pulling off the wheel and trying to bite the delicate genital area. Check both also for bite wounds and that they are both growing and one is not hogging all the food.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:23 AM   #4
Andyg
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

I uploaded 30 seconds of typical behaviour to Youtube.

I think they are both males - but one is certainly much heavier than the other (Ernie is 59g and Eric is 34) but they don't have a shortage of food. The thing I find confusing is that they will spend all day sleeping in the same small area of the house, almost on top of eachother (one of these Trixie 3 room houses that we have modified so there are two individual rooms), so there is no sign of Ernie being so stressed he doesn't want to be anywhere near his brother. I also know that Ernie is Mr Squeaky - and squeaks quite readily, so he is not necessarily being bitten but expressing his displeasure.

Anyway, have a look at the video. I hope it's viewable.

https://youtu.be/AGJvaPExGls
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:34 AM   #5
souffle
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

That looks like mating behavior. The fact that one is so much larger is worrying. When the female is near to giving birth (and the large one does look quite round) they give out a scent that shows they are ready to mate again soon. They will mate immediately after the birth unless you remove the male and you get a second back to back litter. The fact the smaller one is cleaning his genitals straight after he stops perstering the other one makes me suspicious. That is what they do after mating or trying to mate. I'd like to see the underneath of them if possible. Can you pop the big one in a glass and take a pic through the glass. You can often see nipple lines on a pregnant female.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:45 AM   #6
Andyg
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

Thanks for the feedback. I'll get some pictures when the wife gets home a bit later. Ernie isn't very tame, so we'll need both hands.

Ernie has been heavier than Eric for quite a long time - it's not something new. We weigh them every week (experience we have learned from previous hamsters), and their weights diverged quite significantly around the 20th November - and Ernie has been this weight for around 3-4 weeks now and no pups have appeared. He also gained weight over xmas when we were away and they were staying at friends - but has since lost it again as we don't overfeed them (unlike our well meaning friend).

I should add that this behaviour has being going on for a month or so - it's not at all recent.

Anyway, I'll get some photos later and pop them up.

Thanks once again..

A
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:51 AM   #7
souffle
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

The little one is quite small really. It could be stress (nervous energy used up in trying to maintain his status) or it could be that the larger one is keeping him away from the food. So Eric is the little one yes? If they are not injuring each other and seem happy together then you just need to closely monitor them. Sometimes they can be together ages before pups arrive so if they are male and female you never know!
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:22 AM   #8
Andyg
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

Hello again

This is the best photo we could manage of Ernies bits. He wouldn't sit still in the glass, so we ended up holding him, but he struggles a bit.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/S2BJL8tDj1dCit8PA

So, what's the verdict. If the photo's not good enough, I'll have to take another in the morning when the light is better. I won't stress him anymore tonight.

Thanks

A
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:49 AM   #9
souffle
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

That one is a male. The ventral scent gland is very obvious indicating maturity. He's eating more pies than Eric for sure. Even though there is plenty food available it doesn't mean they are always eating it. Can we just check Eric's underneath and see if his scent gland is showing like that? Glad there are not going to be surprise pups!
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:20 PM   #10
Andyg
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Default Re: Male hamster pair behaviour

Hello again.

Phew.... glad we won't be having any pups. We currently have 3 hamsters - we also have a rescue hamster.

We have tried and failed to take a photo of Eric's bits. The light isn't that good for the phone camera and he got a bit stress while I was trying to hold him still enough - so we gave up. However, I have no doubt he is a little male hamster. He also has the prominent scent gland and I can clearly see his testicles.

So, I wonder if his behaviour is hormone driven? He didn't do it about 5 weeks ago. Some nights he won't leave Ernie alone and other nights he doesn't seem bothered?

I know he is small - but there is always food in the bowl, and veggies and at least one millet at the side of the cage, so he can always munch on something. There is also a food stash in the common area of their house. They are quite happy to sit in the same food bowl and feed/collect new seeds. That said, Eric never seems to have any food in his cheeks.

So, I am a at a bit of a loss, and as they don't appear to be doing anything really nasty (it looks like he is licking him to be honest - and he always licks us - we call him Mr Licky) we don't know what to do. If they didn't get on well at all, we would separate them..... but they do apart from this behaviour he displays from time to time.

Thanks

A

Last edited by Andyg; 01-11-2019 at 02:59 PM.
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ernie, eric, time, behaviour, male, food, sleep, obsessed, brother, wheel, squeak, pair, bite, share, fight, times, constant, pronounced, extremely, 95%, separate, girl, cute, thoughts, suggestions

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