Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell?

Hamsters have large curious eyes but their eyesight is quite poor. Being prey animals, this makes them have to use other senses to escape from danger.

Hamsters have good hearing and they can hear things very well. So is hearing their best sense? How about their sense of smell?

Keep reading to find out more.

Do hamsters have a good sense of smell?

Hamsters have a really good sense of smell. It is the main sense that they use to know more about things and to navigate their surroundings. Hamsters will use their noses to find food, know their owners, sense predators, communicate with each other, and to move around better. Due to their strong sense of smell, they have very sensitive noses that get easily irritated by the slightest of scents from flowers to perfumes to citrus fruits.

How powerful is the sense of smell for hamsters?

Hamsters have a really powerful sense of smell that they can smell something as far as 30m away. This is their main sense as it is the strongest.

Whenever they sense something around them, hamsters raise and begin sniffing with their noses. This makes them able to tell what is nearby and whether they are in danger or not.

What do hamsters use their sense of smell for

Hamsters use their noses for several purposes. Being their main sense, hamsters will use their sense of smell to:

Find food

Hamsters have poor eyesight. This makes them rely on their noses to know which food they are being offered.

They are also able to sniff out food from where it has been placed which makes it easy for them to find their hidden food without hustle. This also helps hamsters find food sources while they are out in the wild.

Know their owners

Hamsters are not able to recognize their owners using their eyes. They will instead use their noses to know their owners and be able to recognize them whenever they come nearby.

When handling a new pet, give them some time to get to know you by your scent. Walk to their cage and place your hand inside gently.

They may be scared at first as they view you as a threat but when they realize that you don’t want to harm them, they will begin coming to your hand and sniffing it.

This will slowly get them used to your scent and they will be able to recognize you to know when it’s you handling them or someone else. They may even stand on their hind legs whenever they smell you pass by.

Sense predators

Hamsters are prey animals and this makes them very alert in case of predators. They will use their powerful sense of smell to sniff out predators if they are nearby. This could be anything from your dog to your cat.

Communicate with each other

Hamsters communicate with each other using pheromones that they produce and sniff from each other. They can then be able to know each other’s body state like if they want to mate, if they are feeling friendly towards one another, or if they are not in a mood to socialize.

Smells that hamsters dislike

Some smells can be quite strong for us such that we will continue smelling them even after getting into contact with them depending on their strength. If a smell is too strong for us, then it is overpowering for hamsters because they have a very sensitive sense of smell which is much better than ours.

Hamsters will dislike smells like:

Strong scents

Strong scents from perfumes, flowers, air fresheners, and even scented soaps are very powerful for the nostrils of hamsters. Avoid handling your pet after touching any of these scents.


Citrus fruits will have a strong tart smell that’s irritating to the nose. This makes them bitingly much to the noses of hamsters and they do not like them.

Other hamsters

Hamsters are territorial and especially Syrian hamsters who do not like living with other hamsters. If they smell another hamster nearby, they will get frustrated and begin producing strong scents to mark their territory.

This will happen even if the other hamster is in a different cage. Their sense of smell is so strong that they can sniff each other out if they are in the same room.

Why is my hamster sneezing?

Hamsters can sneeze just like humans and it can surprise you at first. A sneeze is brought about by a cold or an allergic reaction.

Colds in your pet can be contracted from other pets, humans, or by living in cold areas like near windows. Allergic reactions can be brought about by dust, strong scents, or sawdust in wood shavings.

What to do for your pet’s health safety?

Always ensure that your hamster is in a warm part of the house away from windows and doors. Room temperatures should always be at 20-23°C.

Do not use scented soaps before handling hamsters or to wash their accessories. Apple cider vinegar is enough to wash and disinfect then follow up with a pure water rinse.

Keep their cage clean at all times and put it in a clean area to avoid dust.

Avoid using cedar or pine wood shavings as they can cause nasal irritation and make your pet sick. Instead, opt for Aspen wood shavings.

Keep foods far away from the cage. Food smells can tempt your pet to escape from their cage and move towards them.

Always wash your hands with unscented soap after handling foods, another hamster, or pet, before you handle your hamster. This is to prevent them from biting you.

Keep Syrian hamsters in separate rooms. If they keep smelling each other nearby they will keep marking their territories. This makes them frustrated and stressed.


Hamsters have a very good sense of smell. They use their noses to sniff out their food, to recognize their owners, to communicate with each other, and to sense predators.

Always keep strong scents away from your pet and do not handle them after touching anything with a strong smell.

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