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How Big is a Hamster’s Brain?

Hamster’s aren’t often considered the most intelligent of animals, but that’s not the most fair assessment. In fact, hamsters are considered to have sufficient mental capacity for their size, resulting in complex problem solving, emotional abilities, and significant memory recall. And that’s all despite their tiny size and considerable disadvantage in the wild.

But does that mean their brain is big? It’s clearly not relative to other larger animals, such as dogs or even humans, but what about relative to their own size? Are they able to solve complex problems? Do they respond to positive and negative reinforcement? Can they remember things and learn new tasks quickly?

In the following article, we’re going to cover all of that and more, including the size of a hamster’s brain, whether they’re considered intelligent or not in the animal kingdom, and how long a hamster’s memory lasts, which is often an indication of intelligence. So keep reading to learn more about a hamster’s brain and more of their capabilities.

Table of Contents

    How Big is a Hamster’s Brain?

    A hamster’s brain is only about two to three cubic centimeters, which is about the size of a pea, so it is quite small relative to other animals. For comparison, a human’s brain measures approximately 1,200 cubic centimeters to put it into perspective.

    Hamster's Brain is 2 to 3 Cubic Centimeters
    2 – 3 Centimeters

    However, that doesn’t mean that hamster’s aren’t intelligent. It does mean that their capabilities are certainly limited compared to dogs, humans, or even elephants, but they can still manage despite their tiny stature.

    Their small brain size does affect what a hamster can do. Because the size of your brain often dictates your full mental capabilities at a broad level. The larger your brain, the more area there is for neurons to fire, sending and receiving information that allow you to perform all of your daily tasks.

    In the event of a hamster, their brain is smaller, contains less neurons and pathways to initiate complex thinking, and as a result, their mental capabilities fall far behind other larger animals, such as dogs or dolphins.

    However, the keyword here is complex. Hamsters are more than capable of basic activities, thinking, memory recall, and more. But when you get into the more complex activities, like communication, long-term memory recall, or strategic and creative thinking, they tend to fall a little short. While hamsters may be able to broadly communicate feelings, such as stress or anger by chattering their teeth, complex communication falls short of other animals, such as humans or dolphins.

    Also, besides the basics of being able to survive, a hamster’s small brain still allows them to feel emotions, such as happiness, stress, and anxiety as well as form attachments to those that they consider to be important in their life. They even have the ability to recognize different people, which is amazing.

    Are Hamsters Intelligent?

    Hamsters are generally considered intelligent, despite their small size. They have been known to learn tricks, sufficient memory recall, and respond to positive reinforcement in training.

    Are Hamsters Intelligent

    Intelligence is often seen as a relative type of term where we compare one animal to another. Relative to humans, hamsters are not considered intelligent because they lack the ability for complex thinking. Hamsters are generally considered to be equivalent to about a 1 year old human, so not a ton of capability for intelligent thinking there.

    However, hamsters have been known to complete relatively complex tasks, such as running through mazes, recognizing faces, and responding to calls for their attention. And if you have a hamster, you know that they are adept at solving the problem of escaping their cage. This indicates the ability to act independently from rewards and other positive or negative reinforcements. And if you need to find them, you can read more in this article about finding a lost hamster in a home.

    Now compared to other animals, hamsters aren’t the Einsteins of the animal kingdom. But through many safe experiments and tests, they have been known to surprise researchers with their capabilities, such as knowing when and how to be rewarded with treats. That’s known as positive reinforcement and conversely, hamsters have been known to recognize and try to avoid negative reinforcement where treats are withheld if negative behaviors are committed.

    Overall, hamsters are generally considered intelligent because they are able to recognize faces, solve problems, such as mazes, and respond to both positive and negative reinforcements. All of these actions are signs of intelligent behavior, even if they fall short of other animals.

    How Long is a Hamster’s Memory?

    Hamsters can remember things for up to 3 months and have the ability recognize faces, recall pathways out of a maze, and remember where they stored their surplus of food.

    How Long is a Hamster's Memory

    All of this indicates pretty good memory recall for such a small animal. Relative to other animals like cats or dogs, hamsters don’t have the best ability to remember things, but for a tiny hamsters to recall events from 3 months ago and commit faces to their long-term memory shows the ability for significant memory recall.

    Also, memory just isn’t for remembering faces, it’s also used for learning new skills or tricks, which hamsters have become very adept at. Compared to other small animals, hamsters are fairly skilled at learning and retaining information, such as the pathways in a maze and responding to commands.

    They’ve also been known to open and close doors through complicated routines and the rewards of positive reinforcement, which means they remember being given treats when completing a task successfully.

    Overall, hamsters have very good memories for their size. The ability to remember things for up to three months, as well as to recognize faces, remember positive and negative reinforcement, and quickly learn new tasks shows the amazing memory recall they possess.

    Additional Reading

    If you’re looking to read more about a hamster’s intelligence or their physical structure, check out the following related articles:


    Hamsters have very small brains compared to other mammals in the animal kingdom, but relative to their tiny size their brains aren’t abnormally small. As a result, hamsters are considered to be fairly intelligent, can become emotionally attached, and possess a very capable memory, being able to remember things for up to 3 months, including faces and the rewards of positive reinforcement.

    While the size of an animal often dictates their abilities and overall intelligence, hamsters do very well for their tiny stature. They don’t have the capabilities of a human, or even a dog or a cat, but they do well considering their ability to learn new tasks, recall events, and solve problems, including the age old issue of escaping their cage.

    All in all, hamsters have very small brains, but are considered to be intelligent and able to possess relatively long-term memory capabilities.