Dog whistles produce a sound in a frequency range that humans can’t hear. But there are many other animals aside from dogs that can hear them. Can hamsters hear dog whistles? and would they react to the sound?
Hamsters are able to hear dog whistles as they can hear frequencies up to 46 kHz. Dog whistles, on the other hand, produce a sound somewhere between 16 kHz and 22 kHz. Hamsters can hear even higher frequencies than dogs, so a dog whistle sound is also in the range of their frequency spectrum.
So, hamsters can hear dog whistles, but does that mean that they would also react to the sound? What can hamsters actually hear? And what other animals are able to hear dog whistles?
We will answer these questions in this article. We will also talk about ultrasound in general, as this is the frequency spectrum dog whistles use.
Hamsters and Dog Whistles
Dog whistles are used to give dogs a signal tone that humans cannot hear. This means that the tone must be above the frequency range humans can hear but within the frequency range of dogs.
The upper limit of frequencies audible to humans is about 20 kHz or 20,000 Hz. A dog whistle needs to emit a higher tone so that humans don’t have to bother with it.
Often this is the case, but there are dog owners who want to hear the sound themselves at least very faintly. Therefore, there are also dog whistles that make sounds just below the limit of 20 kHz.
For hamsters, it does not make a difference whether the sound is just below or just above 20 kHz. Their frequency spectrum extends far beyond that. Hamsters can hear up to 46 kHz.
That’s even higher than what dogs can hear. The limit of audible frequencies for dogs is only 45 kHz.
So it is clear that hamsters can also hear these special whistles. But how do hamsters react to the sound of a dog whistle?
For a hamster, the sound is part of their normal hearing range. But unlike dogs, it is not so easy to train hamsters.
You can also test it yourself if you own a hamster. Dog whistles are not expensive, and it could be an interesting experience to find out how your hamster reacts to one.
A cheap, but good dog whistle to try is this dog whistle*. It works in the ultrasonic range, so you won’t be disturbed by it yourself. However, your hamster will definitely be able to hear it. See for yourself if and how he reacts.
After all, the dog whistle is used to condition the dog. Just as he learns to respond to the command “down”, he also learns that the dog whistle is a kind of command.
If you try to teach a hamster the command “down”, he will probably simply stare at you. Or he will just continue to nibble on his food. Even though hamsters are intelligent and can even learn simple commands.
It is the same with the dog whistle. For the hamster, it is not a command, but simply a medium-high tone. Maybe he will look with interest at the source of the sound, but maybe he won’t even pay attention to the sound at all.
In any case, it will not happen that your hamster suddenly learns to play fetch just because you use the dog whistle.
You will not see any noticeable improvement in your hamster’s training with a dog whistle. If you want to train your hamster at all.
How Is Ultrasound Defined?
Ultrasound is the term used for frequencies above 20 kHz. This corresponds exactly to the upper limit of the frequency range that humans can hear.
Everything below 20 kHz is called infrasound. The prefixes infra and ultra are Latin and simply mean “below” and “above”. So they simply the frequencies below and above the human frequency perception limit.
But what about dog whistles? What frequency do dog whistles commonly use?
Dog whistles come in different types. Most dog whistles have a tone that is somewhere between 16 kHz and 22 kHz. So there are actually dog whistles that humans can hear as well.
Which Frequency Range Can Hamsters Hear?
Hamsters can hear a frequency range from 96 to 46,500 Hz. For comparison, humans hear frequencies between 16 and 20,000 Hz.
So at the low frequencies, hamsters can’t hear everything we hear. They do not hear very low tones. But it is quite likely that they perceive the vibrations produced by loud low sounds.
However, at the high frequencies, the hamster’s hearing is far superior to our hearing. Hamsters can hear more than twice as high frequencies as we can.
But this also means that you should not use marten repellers or cat repellers that work on a UItrasound basis near your hamsters.
After all, the purpose of such devices is to scare off the appropriate targets, and they do that by causing stress. And it is also causing stress to hamsters when these devices are near them.
Therefore, refrain from using these things near hamsters. As far as I know, they don’t work anyway. At least, I’ve never heard of it actually repelling a marten or cat successfully.
Which Frequency Range Can Other Animals Hear?
Do you think that hamsters or dogs can hear incredibly high-pitched sounds? Well, compared to us, you are right. But some other animals only have a weary smile for the hearing performance of hamsters.
Don’t get me wrong, hamsters can hear pretty high-pitched sounds even compared to many other animals. But there are animals that are just way above that.
And even among rodents, there are big differences. Hamsters tend to be in the middle of the pack among rodents.
But take a look for yourself. In the following list, we have written down the frequency ranges for some animals. The list is ordered by the highest audible frequency of the respective animal.
To make it easier for you, the hamster is highlighted in bold. And the other rodents in the list are highlighted in bold italics.
- Parakeet: 200 – 8,500 Hz
- Owl: 200 – 12,000 Hz
- Chinchilla: 90 – 22,800 Hz
- Sheep: 100 – 30.000 Hz
- Horse: 55 – 33,500 Hz
- Cow: 23 – 35,000 Hz
- Rabbit: 360 – 42,000 Hz
- Dog: 67 – 45,000 Hz
- Hamster: 96 – 46,500 Hz
- Guinea pig: 54 – 50,000 Hz
- Gerbil: 100 – 60,000 Hz
- Cat: 45 – 64,000 Hz
- Rat: 200 – 76,000 Hz
- Mouse: 1,000 – 91,000 Hz
- Bat: 2,000 – 110,000 Hz
- Dolphin: 1,000 – 150,000 Hz
- Greater wax moth: 20,000 – 300,000 Hz
Isn’t it fascinating that the greater wax moth can hear even much higher frequencies than a bat? And their frequency range only begins at 20 kHz, where the human frequency range ends.
I have no idea what it can do with that ability. But it might explain why these critters never fly away when you yell at them: “Get out of my house!”
But back to our hamsters and the other rodents.
We see that hamsters tend to be in the lower to middle range of rodents as far as the highest audible frequency is concerned. Especially rats and mice can still hear significantly higher frequencies than hamsters. Still, they hear significantly higher frequencies than we humans do.
What we also see is that most animals and all rodents can hear dog whistles. Even cows and horses can hear them.
The only exception is parakeets and other birds. Their hearing is not designed for such high frequencies. And of course, our greater wax moth is also an exception. But the problem with her is that she can’t hear low-pitched dog whistles below 20 kHz.
However, we can note that the name dog whistle is actually very shortened. We should rather call them animal whistle because it works for almost all animals.
But nevertheless, you should probably not ask for an animal whistle in the pet shop. They might not know what you are asking for.
Conclusion: Can Hamsters Hear Dog Whistles?
Hamsters can hear dog whistles because they are able to hear high-pitched sounds up to 46 kHz. But dog whistles usually only produce tones in the range of 16 – 22 kHz.
However, a hamster will not respond to a dog whistle, at least not the way dogs are supposed to respond.
And hamsters are not the only animals that are able to hear dog whistles. In fact, most animals can. Birds are a major exception as they do not hear such high frequencies.
But hamsters and also dogs are not the animals that can hear the highest frequencies. Bats, dolphins, and especially the greater wax moth can hear much higher frequencies.
Even among rodents, hamsters are not the ones that can hear the highest frequencies. Rats and mice, for example, hear much higher frequencies.
But compared to us humans, hamsters are already doing quite well in hearing high-frequency sounds. On the other hand, do you want to be bothered by such high-pitched sounds? I know that I don’t.