How to Handle & Tame Hamsters
Begin taming your hamster when it is still young. At 3-4 weeks of age is an ideal time to start interacting with your hamster.
If you get to them while they are young you will have an easier time taming them. That’s not to say an older hamster can not be tamed, it’s just that young hamsters are more impressionable.
Start your interaction with your hamster using very short encounters but, do so often. This should be accomplished in a manner that is in no way threatening. This means you should speak softly in a soothing or calm tone. The overall goal here is to gain your hamster’s trust slowly and for it to become more confident around people. If you think you are ready to hold your hamster for the first time, see our section on how to hold a hamster.
Related Content: Caring for Baby Hamsters
When is it Time?
You should observe your hamster’s behavior before you decide to do a training sessions. in order to best tame your hamsters, you should only do so when the hamster is willing to allow for taming lessons. You should avoid handling your hamster if it looks nervous, stressed or angry. If it is lying on its back with its incisors showing, growling or grinding its teeth, these are good signs that now is not a good time to get to know your new friend. Instead let it be and never force a hamster to do what it doesn’t want to.
Additionally, it’s important to note that a hamster by nature sleeps during the day and is active by night. Therefore, you should never wake up your hamster while it is sleeping during the day. This is their time to recharge its batteries. If you suddenly wake up a hamster deep in sleep, it will likely get defensive and could bite you; much like it would if a predator disturbed them in their sleep. Again, this is all to keep your hamster’s stress level to a minimum. Even if your hamster is awake during the day, it’s probably only to use the bathroom or get a quick snack. Always wait until the evening or early morning to train or handle your hamster.
It is however an acceptable time to train and tame a hamster when it’s observed playing, lounging around, stretching, eating or grooming itself. When you observe these types of behaviors, it’s okay to reach into the cage to begin building your bond with your new pet hamster.
How to Hold a Hamster
- A hamster’s eyesight is not very good so in order to gain it’s trust, you need to rely on the hamster’s sense of smell and its hearing. This means you need to speak softly to it and let it smell your hands so it can know who you are. You can rub your hands in some of your hamster’s bedding to help make your hamster more accepting of your hands. Start by feeding it treats through cage bars or other openings. You want your hamster to equate your voice and your smell with something positive; that positive association being your presence equals getting a treat.
- Once your hamster accepts a treat from your hand, you can place your hand inside the cage but no until you wash your hands with an unscented soap to remove and possible food smells from your last meal. With your hand in the cage, let you hamster come to you and sniff your hand. Don’t chase the hamster around and don’t wiggle your fingers. If it’s ready engage with you, it will; otherwise leave it be for the time being.
- When it finally comes to your hand and gets comfortable with it, place a treat in your palm and allow your hamster to crawl into your hand to get the treat. With your hamster in your palm, you can slowly put your other hand in the cage and pet the hamster’s body with one of your fingers. Try to avoid the head area so as to not agitate the little guy.
- After you have successfully performed step three several times, you can try to pick u your hamster. Gently cup the hamster with you bottom hand and then gently but firmly place your other hand over the top to create a hand cave. Allow your hamster to have its head sticking out of your hands. Hold the hamster a few inches off the ground while it’s still in the hamster cage. Do this several times
- Next you can try to take the hamster out its cage. You can do this by picking it up by the cupping cave method above and then bringing the hamster close to your chest. Your hamster will feel more secure with it being next to your chest than you held it with your arms extended. If the hamster urinates in your hand, it’s okay, don’t drop it. This just means your hamster is a little nervous and perhaps you should put it back in its cage for the time being.
- You can now try the one handed pick up method. Do this by gently cradling the hamster’s underside with your fingers and securing it with your thumb. Make sure you do this with your hamster pointing towards your wrist. You can then pull the hamster out of the cage and place it into he palm of you other hand.
Remember that dwarf hamsters are much smaller and faster than the the larger Syrian breed. Dwarf hamsters are thus more difficult to handle and require extra care when being handled. This is especially the case when young children are involved in this. Children should always be supervised while handling a hamster, especially a dwarf until they are properly trained. It’s important to train these children to firmly but also gently hold the hamster. This will avoid any inadvertent crushing of the hamster if it’s held to tightly or an injury from a fall if it’s not held securely enough.