Hand-Tame a Hamster

Edited by Yuliya, Eng, Dougie-1, Anonymous and 2 others

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How to hand-tame a hamster

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Hamsters are often put on display like fish, or bought as starter pets for children and then left neglected without any human contact. While hamsters don't need human contact, they do make fantastic pets if they are tamed. They can be wonderfully affectionate companions who are as comfortable around you and your hands as any larger pet. All it takes is a bit of patience, a willingness to get past setbacks, and a desire to befriend your little furry companion.

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Before you start: some things to keep in mind

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Before you attempt to hand-tame your hamster, you should keep in mind:

  1. 1
    Hamsters bite!
    Hamsters have very sharp front teeth that can easily pierce through human skin. A hamster may bite if he's startled, fearful, is woken up, or feels unsafe for himself or his brood. If you are not prepared for a bite, you may jerk your hand back instinctively and drop the hamster, freeing him or even hurting him. Always take care! Be gentle and calm around your hamster, and don't hold him too high off the floor or another surface. On the same note...
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  2. 2
    Hamsters have weak eyesight and use their teeth to "test" things.
    Always wash your hands before you touch your hamster, especially if you've eaten recently. If a hamster smells food on you he may try to take a nibble to taste! Testing nibbles are not the same as bites - if your hamster tries to bite gently, he isn't intending to hurt you. Try to hold still or remove your hand slowly, or your sudden movement might cause him to bite down in surprise!
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  3. 3
    Generally, the smaller a hamster is the harder he is to tame.
    The large teddy bear hamster breed warms up to humans faster than the hyper, flighty robos. Of course this is only a general rule - how quickly your hamster is tamed also depends on his personality. I have seen tiny robos scramble to climb up their owner's hand because the owner hand-fed them since they were babies.
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  4. 4
    Taming takes time and consistency.
    If you don't handle your hamster for a while, you may need to start a step back along the process the next time you try to interact with him.
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How to hand-tame your hamster

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Now that you've prepared yourself mentally, let's prepare your hamster! Every hamster is different so some of these steps may work better with your hamster than others. Don't give up!

  1. 1
    Begin by getting your hamster comfortable.
    Hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so place his cage in a dim, quiet place where he can sleep without stress.
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  2. 2
    Spend some time near the cage when the hamster is awake.
    This will begin to get him used to the idea of you. Remember that you are a giant in his eyes!
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  3. 3
    Get your hamster used to your scent.
    Before you even touch the hamster, try the scented tissue trick. Put a regular tissue someplace where it touches your bare skin for a day - such as your pants' waistband, or inside your sock. At the end of the day, place the tissue in your hamster's cage, someplace where he will find it easily. Repeat this a few times if you feel like you have a particularly skittish hamster. Hamsters have a strong sense of smell, so getting used to your scent will help your hamster be more comfortable around you, and make you something familiar to them.
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  4. 4
    Make a big show of changing your hamster's food and giving him treats like fresh vegetables.
    You are trying to show that your hands being in the cage are a positive event with delicious consequences!
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  5. 5
    Place your hand flat on the bottom of your hamster's cage, palm up.
    Don't try to scoop him up or even move your hand. Let him investigate. Only do this when your hamster is awake and not hungry. Be aware that he may nibble you, or try to bite!
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  6. 6
    When your hamster is comfortable enough to climb onto your hand without hesitation, you can try lifting him.
    Start by only lifting a little from the cage floor, then slowly build up to lifting him out of the cage. Your hamster may jump off, and that's OK. Try again. Or he may start climbing up your arm. If you reach this step and find that your hamster is relaxed around you, congratulations - you've hand tamed a hamster!
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  7. 7
    If you don't feel comfortable using your hand for the two previous steps, you can try them with a hamster ball or a cup.
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Remember: This process can go quickly, or it can take days or even months. Don't get discouraged if your hamster does not reach this comfortable stage quickly.

One fun idea for interacting with your hamster is making a playpen. Line the bottom of a large bin or a dry bathtub with something for the hamster to dig around, and place hiding and chewing toys around the play bin. Not all hamsters will enjoy this - being away from their home might be too stressful for some - but if your hamster is more interested in exploring the bin than trying to find a way out, a bin might be just the thing for him.

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Additional notes

  • If you are nervous about getting bitten, you can wear gloves when handling your hamster in the beginning, but be aware that this will dilute your scent and may make the process longer.

Resources

Images:

  • Zitona - hamster in hand [1]
  • Jeremy noble - hamster in hand-cropped [2]
  • Jeremy noble - chuy (3478316634) [3]
  • Aniella castello - lolafufupapachona [4]
  • Dalius Baranauskas - Roborovski Hamster eating [5]
  • Štefan Lučivjanský - Skrecok Dzungarsky [6]

Information:

  • Live science - hamster facts [7]
  • Small animal channel - hand-taming a hamster [8]
  • Firsthand information from the wonderful folk at hamster hideout [9]

Other:

Questions and Answers

How to play with a hamster in my hand?

When I try to pick they run away. I have tried: How to get it tamed. I think it was caused by: They have not trusted me

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How do I tame my skittish hamster?

I got a hamster about 5 days ago and she is very skittish. I also got her sister so they live together in one 10 gallon tank. The skittish ones name is Shadow and she has not been wanting to be held, touched, or anything for that matter! Shes drinking well, eating well, getting enough exercise but I just want to know how to help with her timidness.. I have tried: Iv'e put in my sent and that's about it.. I think it was caused by: I'm not sure

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Categories : Animals & Pets

Recent edits by: Sean, Anonymous, Dougie-1

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