Handling and Taming Hamsters

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.

How to Hold a Hamster

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.

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.

The Right Time to Handle a Hamster

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
How to Pick Up a Hamster

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.

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49 comments on “Handling and Taming Hamsters

  1. I recently got a syrian hamster! about 3 days ago. i’ve left her alone for the first 2 days and she’s pretty jumpy.
    yesterday i tired to get her to climb on my hand with a sunflower seed on my palm and she sniffed my fingers and kinda nibbled on them. it sort of drew blood, but only a drop of blood, not much. my cousin came round mine today and started petting my hamster and surprisingly she didn’t ?? get scared. she didn’t even jump at my cousin or anything. after that in the evening i used a soft ( clean ) makeup brush to pet her and she didn’t seem to mind! though sometimes she got a little jumpy but she calms down pretty fast.

  2. I brought a Russian dwarf hamster yesterday and I left him alone for 24 hours, to make sure he doesn’t get wet tail and also so he can get comfortable in his cage
    When I tried to get him out he hissed and nibbles a bit, I gave him a treat whilst in my hand, am I doing the correct things for him?
    When will he start eventually feeling comfortable and not hiss at me??

  3. i got my hamster 2 days ago and she’s very shy and nervous all the time. she never comes out when i’m around. she’s been on her wheel once and she only acknowledgeds me when i give her food. she also never drinks water. i want to play with her but i don’t think sheep get used to me

  4. I just got a Dwarf Hamster and yesterday she let me hold her while setting habitat, today all she does is hiss and “scream” at me. What gives… how am I supposed to get better bonded with her that way.

  5. Iv just got a new Syrian hamster , he is very nervous and was making squeaking noises when taking him out of he’s habitat in pets at home , when we opened the cardboard box and he seen my partner he immediately started squeeking , he’s very nervous , we have got him a huge cage with lots of enrichment and different tubes to go in , he is 9 weeks old and we are worried he won’t take to us , has anyone any tips on how we can bond ?

    • My hamster was like that when I first got her. I put a scarf I wore regularly over her her cage for two weeks and just spoke to her. After a while, she would sometimes come out of hiding when she heard me. And I let her climb in her ball herself without touching her and letting her run around for 20mins just to show her I mean no harm. Then I started feeding her by hand every evening and completely took the food bowl away so she had no choice but to take from my hand. Then slowly, she climbed on to my hand. She did bite me a couple of times but none drew blood. Now she reluctantly let’s me rub my cheek against her. The only thing is that we have clear boundaries. The cage is her safety zone and I’m not allowed my hand in it when she is in it and she does not freak out every time after I’ve cleaned her cage and changed the layout of the tubes.

    • Hi my daughter has just got a baby Syrian Hamster, and we have the same problem,
      Because he is a baby still, he will take time to get to know you. Be patient place your hand in the cage, talk to him calmly, let him get to know your sent, take each day as it comes, we have just managed to get her in a Hamster ball, not by holding, we place the ball next to her house and she walks in on her own. Hope this helps.

  6. My winter white dwarf hamster won’t let me pick her up and when I stroke her she try’s to bite me😔 does anyone know why?

  7. I hope that this site is still looked at. I purchased two hamsters from the pets store a little less than 2 weeks ago. although I have had many pets incl. several rescue dogs and cats I have never had any small creatures. 😉 Even though the pet store saidata they were 2 months old, they said they could not tell if they were boy or girl. I bought the cages that the pet store suggested plastic bottom and wire sides and top. the first 4 days I did what the site recommends. no one picked up the hamsters but we talked to them fed them etc. on day 4 the first hamster escaped and by day 7 I had pretty much lost hope in finding him alive. on day 8 the other hamster escaped and I new he was in the room since the door had been shut so I planned to sleep there the first night nothing but on the second night after following noises i found both hamsters in the closet. I scooped them up using the glass method and put one in an aquarium I had bUT had to return the other to the cage since it is all I had and did some modifications. my question is, do I have to start the taming all over, but neither one will even take a treat from my hand and the first one now rarely even comes out of its house (even for food) is there anything I can do? is it possible that the taming is now ruined and it will not trust? should I try putting them together since they were together during the escape for two days? any advise from experienced hamster owners would be greatly appreciated.)

    • Try and see what gender they are, put them in a glass jar and look under, pictures on the internet can help you tell the difference. If they are the same then consider it but if ANY fighting or roughness occurs immediately split them up.

  8. Awesome it really works I have one hamster my mum doesn’t like it but she said well you can have two I will get one on Friday

  9. What excellent tips! For anyone wondering, your hamster actually may begin to seek your attention after awhile. My robo dwarf, Maz, doesn’t like to be held but she bites the bars of her cage whenever I come around so that I will pet and feed her. It used to concern me, but it’s just her way of saying hi! I saw questions about nipping and my hamster ‘nips’ me occasionally even after having her for a year, it’s not at all painful. It may spook you a bit, but unless your hamster bites hard it is only curious.

    • I think it’s scared since I recently purchased a hamster and I put its cage in my room for it to get used to me and it worked , maybe just make some sounds by it and move your hand in the bedding it will get used to your sent and sounds

  10. I recently got a Syrian hamster, he’s a lovely little boy. He doesn’t like being picked up inside the cage so i have to take the top off and he’ll let me pick him up that way, does anyone know if this will change and will get comfortable with his cage? Also he won’t drink out of his bottle :/

    • Sorry this is late but that happened with me, just change the bottle to another easier one, also ask the pet shop about what the best type for your hamster is, I have 3 and they are all different so it really depends on experience

  11. I got a tame Syrian hamster from a breeder. the hamster has been handled since he was a week old. i am having trouble holding him because he keeps running away! he was super nice at the breeder, and now he’s very scared! what do I do?

    • Well, first of all, the hamster was really only used to the breeder not you. You should start with just getting him used to you without trying to pick him up. Get him used to your scent first and go from there. (Baby steps) Hope this helped, good luck!😉

  12. I bought a Syrian hamster about a month ago now, it seems like he doesn’t like to be held because he trys biting me quite viciously, I don’t know why that is I look after him really well make sure he gets exercise, plenty of food/water/chew toys and I clean the cage once a week thoroughly, so I don’t know why he’s acting out like that?

  13. I bought a Syrian hamster, over a month ago now and I can’t seem to hold her. I can stroke her but not for too long as she tries to bite me, I don’t know why?

    • It could be stress or a trust issue. Try warming her up to you by offering some tasty treats when you hold her. Hopefully she associates being handles with good things.

  14. I think I’m soon getting a hamster so what should I do to make sure he/she is healthy.The breed is a Russian Dwarf.I have got everything ready .

  15. I just got a new hamster that will scream and won’t let me anywhere near him. I’ve had 3 hamsters before this one and I’ve held all of them with in 2 days of getting them, and they all love to be held. I don’t know why this one is being this way.

    • Ahh! I literally am having the same problem as you! I’ve had teddy bear hamsters before and even though people say those are the mean ones that bite well in all reality my teddy bears didn’t. The one i just got today from petco idk what breed it is literally started screaming as soon as i took it out of the box they transferred it in. And even 6 hours later when i picked it up it started screaming like somebody was trying to kill it but. Ugghh heeeellllppppp

  16. im still scared to handle my winter white hamster cause he’s very curious and nipping me , cause i buy at pet store , he’s already older

    • It’s okay if your hamster nips or sniffs you, that’s just a sign of getting to know you! If the bite doesn’t hurt that much that means she is just being curious. If it does hurt them she may be confused or afraid.

    • Do not touch the babies at all! Leave them all alone. Your scent on them can actually make the mother want to kill them. Let them be and let the mother have time.

  17. I have a hamster that gave birth a few weeks ago, and the babes are all there and doing fine. How do I hold the babes? Do they need a special aproch because they have never been held before? Thanks.

  18. I have a hamster that just gave birth, and when the new ones are ready, I’ll need to handle them. Is it different to handle pets that have been held on occasion, than babys that have never been held in their life? If so PLEASE help me out this is all very new to me. (She was supposed to be male.)
    -Alex M.

  19. Thanks for the tips on handling and holiding hamsters because they are useful as I may be getting one soon!! ☺️😆

  20. I have a winter white dwarf hamster,and im very experienced with hamsters but my hamster katniss is cage aggressive so if i put my hand in the the cage she attacks she already did it once and boy did that hurt but she does take treats from me. Please help, my other hamsters are very nice and i never had this problem before so im clueless so please help 🙂

    • Every hamster is different and each has its own personality. Just have patience and slowly build up the trust between you and your winter white.

    • I had the same problem your having but mine was Russian I had her for 2 weeks nothing worked I’m thinking that she was taken away from her siblings and she wanted to be with them Idk she would bite the cage and attack me we had to exchange her to get another now I have a fat dwarf hamster that is super friendly

  21. I have a 3 level cage, and my Syrian will not go on the other levels willingly. How do I get her do go on them? I just got her yesterday, when can we handle her? Trixy is stretching a lot lately I have noticed. She will stretch, and then Yawn like she has been asleep for years. And then she sits there blinking. She also takes very long stretched out steps. Is this normal, or is she just scared?

    • Yeah, it’s normal for some reason. You can never really know what a hamster will do in terms of finding a bathroom. You can try to get a toilet box and see if that helps.

  22. Hello,

    I got an hamster (a dwarf) two days back and i’ve never had one before. Its said that the hamster will choose a corner as toilet… but ive noticed “Gizmo” defaecating in the area he uses to hide, hide food and sleep(he hasnt adopted the little house yet) Is it a problem, cause it seems he is using this area for everythg?

  23. When cleaning my syrian hamster cage recently I noticed that he has scratched his tubes a lot is this worrying that he may escape if he breaks through and is there anything I can do to stop him from doing this.

    • There is little you can do to stop it from scratching other than providing more toys to chew and scratch on. You might need to monitor the tube and replace any weak or broken ones.

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