Hamsters are small rodents that are often bred as first-time pets for adults and children. Although hamsters are small, their bite is much louder than their bark and still can cause a considerable gash in your skin. Hamsters have their own distinct personality and must adapt to human interaction, like any other animal. Most bites from hamsters can be prevented with some persistence and patience.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Introduce yourself to your hamster slowly. Even if you purchased your hamster from a pet shop where he was handled often, your hamster still doesn't know you. Hamsters will often be nervous when they are first brought home and must be slowly handled over a period of time. Begin by using a toothbrush to stroke the hamster and continue to stroke it even if it persists on biting the brush. Soon your hamster will learn that it isn't being harmed and that this stroking is normal. When you are comfortable with this technique after some days, use your finger as a replacement for the toothbrush.
Bribe your hamster with treats. Use hamster treats to gain her trust over time. Start by placing a treat inside the hamster cage and slowly moving successive treats closer to your hand. After a week or so of doing this, you should be able to place the treat inside the palm of your hand and lower it to the hamster. Once the hamster is used to you, she will begin to associate you and your hand with food. Your hamster will eventually become more comfortable with being handled and less likely to bite after this sequence.
Avoid disturbing your hamster at the wrong times. Just like anyone who is startled, your hamster is likely to become defensive if you wake it up. This increases the likelihood that your hamster will be irritable and bite if approached. Since hamsters are naturally nocturnal, interact with them during the very-early morning or late evening.
Discourage bad behaviour. Even hamsters that have been well handled bite on occasion. If this is the case, you must correct the behaviour. Since "spanking" a hamster is out of the question and spraying him with a blast of water can be cruel, try simply blowing a quick blast of air at the hamster's face to discourage negative behaviour. This can be done using a straw so you can keep your distance.
Interact early and often. To keep your hamster tame, you must ensure that you interact with it on a regular basis. This means daily handling so that it will not revert to biting in the future. Introduce your hamster to newcomers slowly by using the appropriate aforementioned techniques.
Tips and warnings
- Feeding a hamster at the same time each day can help her to look forward to seeing you, which reduces the chance of her biting.
- Wear protective gloves until you have successfully built a rapport with your hamster.
- For your and your hamster's protection, wash your hands before and after each physical interaction with him.
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