Why Is My Hamster Standing Up?

Have you ever walked into your room and noticed your hamster standing up?

This behavior has been nicknamed “Meerkating” by hamster owners on online forums.

Cute? Certainly.

But what causes such behavior? Since they’re four-legged, will your hammy injure himself if he stands on his hind legs too often?

Hamster Standing Up

What Does It Mean When A Hamster Stands Up?

Hamsters stand up on hind legs for a lot of reasons. They could be scared, curious or defensive.

Let’s dig deeper into the possible reasons and learn how to better read their body language.

Compensating for Their Poor Eyesight

Hamsters are naturally small animals with poor eyesight. They cannot see in the distance very well and have to rely on their sense of hearing and smell.

Since they’re small, hearing and smelling is obstructed by a lot of objects. By standing up, they will be able to get a better sniff or make out noises clearly in the environment. This also allows them to get a better view if needed.

Being Alert and Cautious

In the wild, hamsters are really low at the bottom of the food chain. They are prey to a lot of animals.

Hamsters stand on their 2 feet as a way to be cautious and prepare for any potential dangers or threats.

You may notice this behaviour when they are exposed to a new environment or new cage. They may also stand up whenever there is loud noises or sudden movements.

As a hamster owner, we should try to give them a safe and comfortable environment to live in.

Try to enter the room slowly and not frighten your hammy. Being too stressed too often is not good for your hamster’s health.

Imagine if you have to be alert in your own home everyday, that would be a rather stressful way to live isn’t it?

Seeking Attention

This is wholesome. Nothing beats watching your hammy craving for your attention.

Hamsters may be solitary animals, but they too need social attention from time to time.

If you catch your hamster standing up and looking at you, (maybe even with its tiny arms stretching out in the air) it may mean that he wants to be petted.

Gently pet your hamster by lightly stroking his back with 1 or 2 fingers. If you wish to pick him up, gently do so and cup both your hands while holding him.

Sniffing for Food

We know hamsters are hoarders. They love to store food in their cheek pouches.

If you see your hamster standing up and sniffing, he’s probably smelling the food scent. Even if your food is in a different room, they may be able to pick up traces of the scent due to their stronger sense of smell.

Don’t deprive your hamster of food. Give him some treats or light snacks even if you just fed him a full meal recently. Your hamster will simply store the food for later.


Hamsters are very active. They need to run.

They may stand up to get some stretches due to low activity levels.

Ensure that you provide them with a proper hamster wheel and toys needed to hit their fitness goals.

Why Is My Hamster Standing Still?

If your hamster is standing still and not moving much, he is very likely to be stressed or threatened by something.

Your hammy will freeze in this position because he is being cautious.

Once he feels safe or if the threat is gone, he will resume his normal activity.

Why Is My Hamster Standing Up and Falling Backwards?

If your hamster repeatedly stands on his hind legs and falls on its back while gazing upwards, he could be suffering from a disorder known as “Stargazing”. This behavior is involuntary.

He could be suffering from a list of health problems such as ear infections, neurological issues or injuries that cause such imbalance.

Bring your hammy to a vet as soon as possible for a check-up to determine the underlying cause of the behavior.

Why Is My Hamster Sleeping Standing Up?

Although some sources claim that hamsters sleep standing up is normal, I certainly don’t feel so.

Yes, hamsters sleep in a lot of weird and quirky positions. However, hamsters really love to make a nest and burrow. That is why we provide them with lots of bedding!

Put it this way. If I were to give you two options to sleep in, would you choose an uncomfortable bed over a comfortable one?

This is why I believe that if your hammy is sleeping standing up, he may be feeling unsettled or unhappy with his current living situation.

There is no harm providing more bedding or strips of shredded toilet paper for him to make a nest to get his needed sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • A standing hamster is a common sight. 
  • Hamster standing up is unlikely to cause injuries to their hind legs, 
  • Reasons why they stand up include being alert, seeking attention, sniffing for food or simply stretching out their muscles.
  • You need to observe his body language and learn what causes such behavior.
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