Hamsters are fast and agile on their feet. But how capable are they when it comes to climbing? More specifically, could they make it up or down a flight of stairs? Here is what you’ll want to know.
So, can hamsters climb stairs? Hamsters can climb stairs, both going up and also coming down them. Hamsters can jump anywhere between 7-15 inches depending on the breed; this enables them to generally clear the average 7-inch stair riser height found in homes. Their nails can also be used for additional grip and leverage.
Any owner, take note.
This makes an escape a lot more interesting.
Besides, it opens up the possibilities of any escape.
In fact, there seem to be countless reports and anecdotes from owners who lose their hamsters in their homes.
And multiple times.
It may even be why you are here today.
The truth is, escaping is not uncommon for this particular pet. It’s easily done.
And hamsters seize the opportunity.
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at the challenge of stairs for these tiny rodents.
How Well Do Hamsters Climb?
Hamsters are considered to be great climbers, willing and able to climb various objects to fulfill their natural curiosity. They use a combination of their tiny yet powerful legs and nails to jump and grip onto a surface before proceeding up it.
And depending on the breed, hamsters have been known to jump quite high.
Syrian hamsters are considered the best jumpers, and it has been known for them to reach up to 15 inches from a flat surface.
Dwarf hamsters are not quite as capable, but they still generally can reach between 7-11 inches in height.
While they are not gifted with the anatomical advantages that mice, rats, and rabbits have (which enable these animals to jump and climb higher), they still have the ability to overcome your typical flight of stairs.
Because the average stair height (known as the stair riser) is between 7-11 inches.
Indoor stairs are also those that generally much lower, around 7 inches, whereas it is outdoor stairs that are mostly around 11 inches.
Very similar to what a hamster can jump.
Syrians can clear this by jumping quite easily, whereas a dwarf hamster still just about has the capabilities (from jumping alone).
But then this is not taking into account their claws/nails.
These can get very long in hamsters, and even when trimmed short, can grip onto a variety of different surfaces and textures.
Take carpet, for example.
Which is usually on top of the stairs in our home.
And then, we do have to consider momentum.
Hamsters are speedy and agile creatures. Chances are they will be running at the stairs as opposed to taking them on from a standing position.
And how can we forget the desire of the hamsters themselves? They are determined to explore.
And if they see an opportunity to do so, They’ll try to take it.
And this confidence just adds to their abilities to climb.
With all these things in mind, it’s no surprise that a hamster can get up and over.
But what about down the stairs? Let us take a closer look…
Can A Hamster Go Down Stairs?
Hamsters can get down stairs and will actively attempt to do so given the opportunity. Being short-sighted means that they are unlikely to perceive the true height of the stairs, clouding their judgment and giving them the confidence to step off the ledge.
But just because they will does not mean they should. Nor do so very often.
It is generally accepted that a hamster can fall from up to 10 inches without being hurt.
That being said, hamsters do also have a very delicate bone structure.
And while the odd stair here and there may not cause any immediate causes for concern, over time, this impact can start to have detrimental effects.
And at the same time, it, of course, depends what a hamster falls on – and how they fall.
Is it cushioned carpeted stairs, or are they bare wood?
The latter will be a lot more impactful.
And at the same time, how is the hamster landing? Is it a clean landing or at an angle?
And back to the aforementioned momentum.
Just as this helps them going upstairs, it can add to the dangers of going down.
It’s all added pressure on their joints and bones.
These things can make all the difference to whether a hamster can get down a flight of stairs safely.
Generally, they can, but there are always risks involved when these tiny and agile rodents fall from height.
And it is not always apparent when they are hurt.
Other times it will show in their behavior, such as a lower appetite or refraining to go on their wheel.
They may also cry (making noises that indicate they are in pain, not tears).
Any injury sustained by the stairs may require veterinary support, so you’ll need to monitor your hamster closely for any signs of pain or injury.
Hamsters can climb stairs, with The Syrian breed known for being quite impressive at it.
Nevertheless, the Dwarf and other popular hamster breeds kept as pets are more than capable.
A combination of jumping, gripping, courage, and momentum all play their part here.
And being short-sighted and keen to explore typically means that a hamster will have no objections going down the stairs either.
Even if it could mean injury.
So, if you own a pet hamster, it is essential to keep them securely locked in their cage.
Or, if you are letting them out for a run in their ball, ensure that it is securely closed.
Hamsters are incredible escape artists, and chances are they are going to get out more than once.
If your home has a flight of stairs, therefore, do not assume they haven’t taken them on.
Your hamster could be much further away than you think!
Hamsters really enjoy climbing, along with a general exploration of the environment around them. Therefore, as an owner, you can help meet their natural curiosity by enabling them to do so in a structured way. Placing ladders, cardboard boxes, toys and other interactive games in the cage will help to satisfy their curiosity and keep them sufficiently mentally stimulated.
A climbing hamster is a happy hamster. This typically means that they are confident in their environment and are expressing an interest in the environment around them. This is a good thing and should be proactively encouraged. Just ensure that they are climbing in a safe manner and there are no objects or items nearby that could cause injury or harm.
It is considered very normal for a pet hamster to climb its cage. Many owners come to expect this behavior. Climbing is a natural instinct; that they use to explore or even to escape danger. New hamsters are therefore more likely to climb their cage as a means of getting to know their new home. However, if climbing persists in time, it can also be a sign of boredom and could indicate they require more stimulation.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.