Top Handling Tips:
- • A hamster will never bite unless there is a reason.Many people are nervous when handling hamsters due to the fear of being bitten. Yes, being nibbled can hurt (a lot) but with gentle handling to begin with and time hamsters can become fabulous little furries who will sit in your hand, enjoy a stroke and thrive in your company.
- • Wash your hands! Syrian hamsters have very poor eyesight and rely mostly on the sense of smell and touch. If your hands smell like food… you can bet he’s going to want to have a little nibble and taste what smells so yummy!
- • Let them wake up first.Being most active usually during the night, these little ones will likely not be up and awake when you want to handle (after school/work/during the day). As such it’s very important to wake them up by gently talking to them and perhaps shuffling some of the substrates before you try to pick them up. If they aren’t given a couple of minutes to wake up first, you might have a very grumpy hamster and that’s not the best start to a handling session with them!
- • Be gentle!Syrian hamsters are sensitive to touch and grabbing or poking can startle them and make them nervous to handle. Always scoop them with both hands gently when picking them up and stroke them very gently (avoiding the nose and whiskers). If your hamster is a little too jumpy to pick up safely, we recommend using a plastic cup to get you started. By scooping them into a cup you can move them safely from A to B without worrying about them jumping out of your hands until both you and your hamster are more confident with handling.
- • Little and often.Aim to handle your hamster for only 10-15 minutes at a time to begin with. Short and gentle sessions will teach your hamster that handing is nor a long or scary process and he will be back in the safety of this enclosure in no time. This can go a long way to building his confidence.
- • No fingers in faces!Going back to hamsters and their eyesight, Syrians don’t have the best eyesight to differentiate things up close, so when you approach them with a hand or a finger toward their nose it can be very scary. This can make them nervous, cause them to nip or run away.
- • They can be trained!Although little, these cute mammals with a little time and patience can be taught their name, pick up routines easily, litter train themselves and will even do some simple tricks if taught gradually. So the more handling you do with them the more fun you can have with them.
Over time Syrian hamsters adapt wonderfully to being handled and can be desensitized. For some it may only be a week or so, others may be a little more sensitive and take a few weeks. But be patient, go slowly with them and they will get to a point where they are happy to be handled daily and may even be waiting in their enclosure for you ready to play.