Taming and Handling

Hamsters from hobbyist breeders are on the whole a lot tamer than pet shop hamsters. This is because most pet shop hamsters are bred in there hundreds and shipped out early, getting little human contact in this time. Breeders spend time with their new arrivals, I personally play with each pup from the moment their eyes open to the day they leave me, and I will never sell a hamster that I feel is not quite tame. this means most of the hard work is done for you, you know then that yourself or your child is less likely to be bitten, and will have a much better experience with the hamster. There are though still a few rules it is best to follow. The first day or so after you have taken your new hamster home it is best to simply let the settle in, talk to it as much as you can so it gets used to your voice, if you wish put a little treat in the cage so it starts to associate your voice with nice treats. Always move slowly and where it can see you to avoid shocks. try to cup it between you hands to pick it up rather than grab, or give it something it can climb into out of the cage and then onto your hand. for example, a ladle can be useful simply place it into the cage, the hamster jumps on, you then lift the hamster slowly out and allow it to run off the ladle onto your hand. Try not to disturb a hamster when it is in its bed, and do not pick it up or drag it from its bed, you wouldn’t like it and neither do they, and this will cause them to bite you as a warning.

Hamster’s most basic instinct is when in doubt bite! It’s best not to activate it. Before handling your hamster wash your hands thoroughly, as any food smells will tempt it to nibble on you, they have quite poor sight, and so they will 'test' you to see if you are food or not. For the same reason try not to use fruit scented soaps else you will smell too tasty for the hamster. always avoid chasing it around its cage to get it out, as it will start to associate your hand with this stress, try instead to tempt it to the door with a tasty treat like a hamster chocolate or a bit of chicken then pick it up once it has taken it, or alternatively take off the roof of the cage and place your hand into the cage so the hamster can step onto it. I try to make sure most my pups can be grabbed, I make them as child safe as I can and so most of mine you can safely pick up around the waist when they are in their home and they will think nothing of it. One of my current males was tested by being picked up roughly turned upside down and tickled on its belly till its hair went backwards. Through all of that it kept its ears up and didn’t consider biting. I would in no way encourage you to do that to any hamster, but sometimes it gives great peace of mind to know you can.

I have found letting a hamster run over the back of your hand makes both you and the hamster feel more secure when you are first bonding. this maybe because there is less that the hamster can nibble on, or because there tends to be less smells of you or anything you have touched, either way it works, and once you feel secure passing the hamster from the back of one hand to the other then you can try to let it run over your palm. Remember to talk calmly to your hamster at all times while handling. Sudden noises or screams will alarm it. When first handling a young hamster it can be best to play with them in a towel lined bath tub, or on a big bed this way it has a soft landing and with the case of the bath, also can’t escape anywhere when it decides to jump off. If you are bitten its best to make sure the hamster is not dangling, and wait for it to release. If it’s a first time bite its best to put the hamster back always talking calmly to it. And let it be before trying handling again, considering what could have happened to cause it to bite. if it regularly takes little nibbles (as I have found many argente Campbell’s do for no reason other than they are that way inclined) keep handling it, usually these nibbles are more like a pinch and do not draw blood, if it gets put back each time it does that it learns that by biting it can go home. It is then that it is important to keep handling it and putting it back home later.

Some dwarfs are prone to cage aggression. if you find this to be the case then try scooping the hamsters out first before touching them, use a ladle or some such device that they can jump onto then walk from that onto your hand, you may find the little devil trying to bite your hand in the cage is a sweet angel once out!. I have found that some hamsters, so far mainly dwarfs can decide to clean you as well as themselves, its an odd experience to be licked by a hamster, but its important to not get worried as if you jump it could frighten them into doing the thing you were afraid of... biting, most my hamster that do decide to lick you though tend to be the quieter ones and so less inclined to bite anyway, and even with telephones ringing and fire alarms going off still sit there quietly.