If you’ve recently welcomed a hamster into your home, it’s important to give them time to adjust before attempting to handle them. Whether you have a larger Syrian hamster or a tiny dwarf hamster, creating a nurturing environment is crucial for their well-being and longevity. In this article, we will share some golden rules for taming and handling your furry friend.
Rule No. 1: Always Wash Your Hands
Before picking up your hamster, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. This is especially important if you have multiple Syrian hamsters. These small creatures “see” with their noses, so if the scent of one hamster lingers on your hands, it may cause distress or confusion for the hamster you’re trying to handle. Use unscented soap, as hamsters may mistake the smell of scented soap or food-like odors for actual food.
Rule No. 2: Be Gentle When Waking Your Hamster
Hamsters are deep sleepers, just like they would be in the wild. To wake your hamster without startling them, simply speak to them in a soft, calm voice. Sudden disturbances can cause disorientation or fear, so it’s best to approach them gently.
Rule No. 3: Avoid Sneaking Up on Your Hamster
Hamsters have limited defenses in the wild, and sudden changes in their environment can make them wary. When you’re ready to pick up your hamster, give them a few seconds to see your hand before approaching them. This allows them to recognize and feel more comfortable with your presence.
Rule No. 4: Properly Hold and Lift Your Hamster
When picking up your hamster, use both hands and provide support by placing one hand under their bottom. Always lift them facing towards you, rather than away from you. This reduces disorientation, minimizing the chances of your hamster jumping out of your hands. Remember, familiarizing your hamster with being held requires patience and consistency.
For the first few days, refrain from attempting to pick up your hamster. Instead, keep a soft voice throughout the day and place your hand in the cage without any further action. Reading a book or watching TV beside the cage is a great way to spend time with your new pet. Allow your hamster to investigate your hand at their own pace, even if they’re simply ignoring it. This gradual approach builds trust and helps your hamster feel more comfortable around you.
Slow and steady wins the race! In the wild, hamsters are vulnerable to birds of prey, so sudden movements can trigger their natural instincts to flee or defend themselves. By allowing your hand to rest calmly in the cage, you’re breaking the association between your hand and potential danger.
While your hand is in the cage, your hamster may attempt to nibble. Don’t worry, as this is a natural behavior. If your hamster’s nibbling becomes uncomfortable, slowly withdraw your hand without startling them. Blowing gently in their face can also deter nibbling without causing harm.
Say No to Punishment
It’s essential to remember that hamsters lack the ability to understand punishment. Striking or yelling at them will only create fear and hinder your efforts to bond with them. Instead, gently blow in their face and firmly say “no” to discourage undesirable behavior. This approach helps your hamster understand boundaries without causing unnecessary stress.
Other Helpful Tips for Handling Hamsters
Knowing when your hamster is ready to be handled requires observation and patience. Respect the golden rules and give your hamster enough time to become familiar with your scent and presence before attempting to lift them.
If you’re feeling unsure about holding your hamster directly, it’s perfectly fine to use a cup or small bowl to gently lift them out of the cage. A homemade hamster “elevator” can be crafted using a clear plastic 1-liter soft-drink bottle. Remove the label, cut the bottle in half, and trim the bottom half to create a cup-like shape. This makeshift scoop allows your hamster to see your hand while providing a sense of security.
Remember, each hamster is unique, and the bonding process may differ. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to forming a strong bond with your new hamster. Enjoy the journey of getting to know your furry friend and creating a loving and trusting relationship that will last a lifetime!
Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, Lumina Media.
By: David G. Imber