Is your hamster intelligent? Yes, there is no doubt he is. Scientists have demonstrated that animals all have some levels of intelligence; the difficulty lies in understanding exactly what that intelligence looks like. Obviously we can not use the same measures of intelligence with an animal that we would with a human being.
In the book “Fish Facts and Bird Brains: Animal Intelligence” the author offers two fun games (or training exercises) you can play with your hamster to help test whether he is average in intelligence, extra bright, or a bit slow. With both games you need to be consistent in your training (or testing) and plan to spend at least two weeks at this hamster testing activity. The author believes that your average hamster can not only learn to recognize his name, but also be taught to stand on his hind legs. How quickly your hamster learns these activities is an indication of how smart he is.
Hamster Intelligence Test #1: How Quickly Can Your Hamster Learn to Recognize His Name?
In order to train your hamster to recognize his name, hold out a bit of favorite food (the author recommends a peanut or raisin) and call out the hamster’s name to see if he will come to you. You will need to do this five or six times during the course of the day for four days. On the fifth day, call the hamster by name without holding out the bit of food and see if he comes. If your hamster comes after only four days of training you have one very bright hamster and you should be proud. On average a hamster will take at least two weeks of continuous training with hearing his name and being offered his favorite treat before he will come. If he takes more than two weeks to learn this trick, well, he’s probably a bit mentally slow.
Hamster Intelligence Test #2: How Quickly Can Your Hamster Learn to Stand?
Teaching your hamster to stand requires similar steps as training him to come when his name is called. Start the training by letting the hamster sniff the food first, then hold it in your hand just above his head. You want to hold it just high enough that he will have to stand on his hind legs to reach it. Say “stand!” and his name. Repeat this until the hamster stands on his hind legs and takes the food. Repeat this exercise four times a day (holding the food in your hand over the hamster’s head and speaking until he stands up to take it). At the end of a week try holding your hand over the hamster’s head and saying “stand!” and his name without the food and see if he’ll stand on command. Your extra bright hamster will learn to stand on command (without the food) in a week or less, your hamster of average intelligence will learn this trick in two weeks and your mentally challenged hamster will take three or more weeks.
Helen Roney Sattler. Fish Facts and Bird Brains: Animal Intelligence