Hamster ownership can be a very rewarding experience. These adorable, fun, and inquisitive animals make for perfect pets thanks to their cuddly and engaging personalities and behavior. But when it comes to holding a hamster correctly, there are some important things to keep in mind. So how best can you hold Syrian hamsters?
When holding a Syrian hamster, it is important that you have clean hands that are odor free. Approach your hamster slowly, so that you do not startle them, before allowing them to hop onto your hand or gently scoop them up. Grabbing your Syrian hamster is not advisable as they have small, fragile bones.
Before you hold your hamster, it is important to get your hamster used to their new surroundings. Allow your hamster ample amounts of time in its hamster’s cage and this should be placed in a quiet space. After a few days, allow your hamster to sniff you and then gradually increase interaction more.
Are you a new hamster owner? You are right in thinking that these animals are a bit delicate and require gentle holding and handling. In this guide, we will tell you exactly how to go about holding Syrian hamsters getting them used to you and their surroundings. Read on to find out more.
Do hamsters like being held?
Although you may not want to hear this, hamsters usually do not like to be held. But this is not something they are completely adverse too. It just takes some time, patience, and familiarity for your hamster to come around to being held. In fact Oscar used to love being picked up, and would often tap at his cage to ask to be scooped up.
In the early days and up to a week of ownership, your hamster will be naturally stressed out due to their new environment. People are much larger than these delicate rodents, and it is easy for hamsters to fear people until they are used to a normal routine. Once your hamster starts to approach you, this is a sign things are moving in the right direction.
Your hamster may jump excessively or run and hide on the opposite side of the cage once you approach it. This is completely normal and not a cause for concern.
Furthermore, hamsters are nocturnal rodents, and this often conflicts with how we live our lives compared to theirs. Many people interact with and attempt to hold their hamsters during the day, which is when the rodents like to sleep. This can cause further stress and irritability.
In addition to interacting with your hamster in the evening hours, it is also important to allow the rodent to become used to its surroundings.
Is it fine to hold your hamster?
Granted that you gently place your hands around a hamster, and keep holding times to an absolute minimum, the rodents will be fine with holding.
It is important to wash your hands beforehand, especially if you have other household pets, and to hold them as if you are holding a delicate object.
It is important to train your pet before you attempt to hold your hamster. Once you let your hamster get used to your appearance, presence, and voice, their nerves will start to become eased which will allow for more interaction.
So what steps should you take to train your hamster for holding?
Step by step to holding your hamster
Here are some important steps to take to begin the process of holding your hamster close:
- Wash hands. As mentioned above, it is important to use unscented soap and to clean your hands thoroughly before touching your hamster. Hamster rely on their sense of smell, so if you have cats or dogs, the rodent will immediately notice these smells, and this will alarm them. Also, scented soaps or other foreign smells will likely do the same when hamster sniff alarms go off. A cat is a natural predator of these rodents, so be sure to remove the cat smell from your hands and also keep your cat far away.
- Slowly approach your hamster visibly. As you approach the cage, your hamster will be scared and likely start jumping. Moving slowly allows the pet to gauge if your approach is threatening or just part of the natural routine. Moving fast, talking loudly, or being far too enthusiastic will acerbate your pet due to the scary movement. Your pet will feel comfortable if you walk slowly.
- Be gentle. Being gentle is important for a few different reasons when you start holding your pet hamster. Like all pets, gently being pet or held is preferable and will calm their nerves. This shows the hamster that you are not a threat. Furthermore, hamsters have a tiny and delicate body, so if you grab them, you could scare them or worse, damage their internal organs or bones. Have a treat or some normal hamster food nearby to further put them at ease.
Apart from this, it is best to allow a hamster to sit in the palm of your hand or climb across your lap. Try to avoid enclosing your fingers around your pet hamster as this can also startle them.
Additionally, you can also use treats to encourage eating from your hand if your pet is in the mood for food. After all, food is always a great motivator, and even better, a tasty hamster treat.
Eventually, with these steps in mind, the animal will become accustomed to seeing you, and may even begin to crawl into the palm of your hand!
What if my hamster bites me?
Even if you are patient and follow all of these steps, there is still the possibility your hamster will become scared enough that it may bite you. This is common for nearly all pets as they adjust to their new life, but hamsters are just a bit more nervous-natured.
A hamster bite is completely normal in many ways because these rodents would be classified as east prey when in the wild. So this is all part of your pet adjusting to its new surroundings until it can safely feel as if you are not a threat.
You should immediately treat the bite and apply a bandage to the bite mark if it needs it. Treat the wound with a disinfectant just to be safe.
To prevent your pet hamster from biting you, you just have to wait patiently for your pet to feel at ease being out of its cage. This can be bothersome to many, since the entire point of having hamsters is to hold and play with them. But unlike dogs and cats, you cannot just jump right into it.
One additional step you can take is by sitting on the floor and creating a small walking zone for the rodent. This will engage your pet’s mind and allow them to search and smell the area outside of their cage as well.
If you can wait patiently and can allow your hamster some time outside of its cage to search the floor and smell the rest of the house, biting will eventually taper off.
For more detailed information on how to train your hamster not to bite, just out our blog!
In summary, a Syrian variety of hamster needs time to become accustomed to their new surroundings.
The more you acclimate your presence around the rodent, the easier it will become in getting them to allow being held. You can always seek further veterinary advice or read our guide on how to tame a hamster for more tips and tricks.