Hamsters are one of the most endearing animals to keep. Where to begin with their qualities! Not only are they sweet, beautiful little creatures, they’re entertaining with their hyperactive personalities – add to these some cheek pouching and nibbling and hamsters are the ultimate cute pet. So, what are the best ways to tame a hamster?
Therefore, it’s only natural that you might want to tame your hamster in order to develop a strong bond.
Creating that bond is based on two principal elements – trust and patience. If you think about it, your hamster is a very small critter in a big world, and it’s going to need to trust you. This will require patience on your part – and, dependent on your pet’s personality and breed, taming your hamster can take anything from days to months.
The rewards are obvious, with your soft and fluffy hamster sitting happily on your palm. Check out the best approaches on how to tame a hamster, with some useful hints and tips to get closer to your little best buddy.
A few basics
Your hamster should have a settling in period at home before you start taming it.
The primary factor to bear in mind is reducing stress for the little critter – they need to feel safe and secure, with lots of hiding places in their enclosure. So make sure their cage is suitable for their size and breed, with lots of bedding and tunnels to encourage natural behaviors.
Site the cage in an appropriate place – away from distractions and, indeed, anything that might spook your hamster.
Remember, your goal is to reduce stress, so hamsters need to be able to sleep during the day without undue disturbance. A hamster won’t thank you for waking it up to be handled – only do so when they awaken, unless getting annoyed nips are your thing.
- Settle your hamster in – a week or two.
- Place the cage in a quiet place.
- If sleeping, do not disturb!
Take your time to tame your hamster.
Let the hamster be your guide in this and take into account the type of breed you have.
So, a Syrian hamster or similar will, in theory anyway, be easier to handle because of its larger size. The dwarf breeds are very small and super speedy, so these will need extra care.
Don’t forget that whatever the size of the hamster, these little guys are fragile – never try to restrain a hamster if it wants to move away from you because this could cause injury as well as instill fear. More on that shortly but, for now, here are some tips to get you started.
Nice and quiet
You’ve provided your pet with all the essential hamster accouterments and it has settled in nicely. Natural behaviors are observed – it’s happy to play and eat in your presence, for example.
Let your hamster get to know you before handling. You can do this by being close to its cage, talking to it in a low, quiet voice.
Don’t be afraid to get imaginative – if you get tired of a one-way conversation, read aloud a poem or similar! The point is that your hamster is getting used to you.
In other words, be the source of all things tasty – provide your hamster with nice treats like small pieces of raisin or grape.
If you’re using a wire cage, hold the treat in your fingers and let the hamster approach if it wants to. You might need to try this several times until your hamster comes to you. Progress to opening the cage door and placing your hand inside with palm up.
If you have a solid-sided cage, put the treat in the cage base on your open palm. Again, allow the hamster to approach if it chooses. If no show, keep on trying each day. In time, your critter’s curiosity will allow it to explore your hand – and eat the treat!
When your hamster is happily exploring your hand, very gently scoop it up in a curved palm so it’s sitting fully on your hand. Likely it will jump straight off – once you’ve reached that first-base, keep trying daily until the hamster stays put and you can bring it out of the cage. To secure it safely, place your other hand in a curve over its back.
There’s no set time-frame on how long you’ll need to apply these steps – hamsters differ, of course, so some will tame quicker than others. As long as you are gentle and patient, even the nerviest hamsters can become used to handling.
Once you are able to handle your hamster, you need to keep it safe from harm. These are wriggly little critters who love to explore, so it’s a good idea to handle them just over your lap or a similar soft base. If they do tumble from your hand, they aren’t injuring themselves. For dwarf hamster breeds, it’s recommended you use a small box/container with a soft base when handling them so you don’t lose them. Due to their size and agility, having a container beneath them can also prevent injury. Do this if you have a Roborovski hamster, especially – whereas Chinese hamsters will cling onto your fingers with their dinky paws!
- Let your hamster explore and build its confidence.
- Gently shift it from palm to palm.
- Offer little treats while it explores.
- Fragile – handle with care!
- Never restrain your hamster – put it back in the cage if it seems stressed.
- Accept that some nips and bites might occur!
Other handling options
These are particularly good if you need to handle your hamster before it’s been tamed – for example, to clean the cage – or to gently encourage handling.
- Use a small cup for your hamster to crawl into – add a treat if this helps.
- Use a short cardboard tube [loo roll is okay] and stuff one end with tissue.
- Gloves – handle with care if using thicker material. Can be stressful for the hamster so use as a last resort.
You now have a few ideas on how to tame a hamster – apply these steps to reduce stress and maintain safety. Don’t worry if things take a bit longer than you expect – any time taken can produce rewarding results. Allow your hamster to dictate the pace and always supervise if children are learning to handle these fragile critters. Once your hamster is cheerfully exploring your hands and even running up and down your arms, you’ll know all that patience was worth it!