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Hamster that bites

(15 Posts)
TeamDamon Wed 24-Aug-11 19:49:32

DS has saved for months to buy his first hamster - he is 8. He chose carefully (though we think she's a girl and now realise we might have done better to get a boy) and has read the hamster book from cover to cover. She arrived on Sunday and we have been trying to let her settle in gently. However, today she has bitten me and DS quite badly (lots of blood) and he is really upset and wary of her now.

He has been trying to do what the book says (making sure his hand smells of her sawdust; laying it flat on the floor of the cage and so on) and is devastated that she is a biter. I have had hamsters before and don't remember them being quite so feisty!

What can I do to help him tame her and build up his confidence with her? I don't want him to get bitten again and again - she has vicious teeth!

cookielove Wed 24-Aug-11 19:53:39

Can you wear gloves until she is bit tamer?

Are nursery hamster is a girl, (twitch) and she has nibbled the adults a few times and drawn blood once <grrr> and we tried to handle her as much as possible, she often bit when people had just eaten so we always made sure we had washed our hands. So could you wash hands then rub a bit of saw dust on them.

Whats her name?

Esian Wed 24-Aug-11 20:01:30

Rather than trying to handle her loads at the beginning, I would be trying to tempt her with bits of tasty food so she learns to come to DS on her own. Once she's confident around human hands you can start letting her explore DS's hand.
I had a biter and I had to take it quite slowly. Once she was used to my hand with food in, I would sit and watch tv/read a book with my hand resting inside the cage but without trying to pick her up. It took a couple of months but I ended up with a very tame, trusting hamster.

TeamDamon Wed 24-Aug-11 20:02:19

Thanks for replying, cookielove. I know it is ridiculous but I am almost in tears - DS was so excited about her and she is just wild. Have just tried to get her out of the cage wearing gloves and she just flung herself around - I can't even get to the stage of holding her, never mind gentling and stroking and all that other stuff.

Her name is Amy - goodness knows why! confused - DS not a Dr Who fan!

RustyBear Wed 24-Aug-11 20:04:33

I always used a handling tube with our hamsters - a Jaffa cake tube is ideal, (and has the advantage that you can eat the Jaffa cakes first) though you might want to cut it down a bit first.

Put a treat in it and put it in the cage, and the hamster will usually run in, as they like dark places. Lift it gently out (you can hold the lid over the end if you think the hamster might try to get out on the way), then get your DS to sit down with the tube on his lap and wait for the hamster to come out in its own time. He'll need a bit of patience, but don't let him stick his fingers in to try to encourage her out, as that's the fastest way to get bitten.

This way she will get used to his smell without the fear of being handled. When she is ready to be stroked, I always found our hamsters preferred being stroked along their sides rather than being approached by a hand from above, which they would react to defensively.

TeamDamon Wed 24-Aug-11 20:04:35

Thanks for your reply, Esian. I will give that a go - the problem is that when DH tried the hand in the cage technique (not doing anything - it was just lying there), she bit him too...

Esian Wed 24-Aug-11 20:05:15

Btw my hamster absolutely loved scotch pancakes grin and would always be tempted by those rather than my finger.

<mad about hamsters>

TeamDamon Wed 24-Aug-11 20:06:25

Rusty - that sounds like a good idea. I am a bit worried by how quick she is though? - what if she just bolts out of the tube and off his lap and away? <we have cats...>

Esian Wed 24-Aug-11 20:08:44

Start by keeping fingers out of her reach for now, just dangle the food. She soon learn that fingers and hands mean tasty treatssmile

brighthair Sun 28-Aug-11 02:16:50

Sitting by cage chattering away to hamster grin
Try keeping a bit if bedding/loo roll on your skin (I put it in my bra!!) so it picks up scent then put it in cage
Alcohol hand gel can deter biters

solidgoldbrass Sun 28-Aug-11 02:19:32

Casserole it and get a new one.
<realises that this response is perhaps not the one that should be offered when one is thinking of starting up pet funeral business>

Poshbaggirl Sun 28-Aug-11 02:34:05

Hi teamdamon. We are in exactly the same position! DD got 'Princess' last week for her birthday. So excited. Prepared, read book, made list of 60 names, and has been nipped a couple of times.
So far tried gloves. But will try handling tube technique. I have made a wall enclosure with 6mm ply, 4 pieces of wood that connect together at the ends to make a square enclosure, about a metre square, 30 cm high. Tomorrow DD will sit inside with hamster on lap and no fear of hamster darting off under furniture to be found later by the cat!
Will let you know how we get on!
I think at 7 weeks old and fresh from the pet shop she just hasnt been handled at all yet and if and when she has been its probably pissed her off a bit by being poked in the pet shop during the day when she'd rather be asleep. Iyswim.

MrsRhettButler Sun 28-Aug-11 02:50:37

Agree with esian's advice, take it veerry slooowly!
I had a biter (male btw) he was vicious! Hamsters have a grip like a bulldog, they don't let go once they really latch on so yes, you have to be very careful and slowly build up trust.
I ended up with a completely tame hamster (he would still bite others but stopped biting me grin ) who would actually come when called and used to have free run of my bedroom! He was my favourite ever pet and he was wonderful smile
Everyone else hated him though wink
He was called pip and he was the absolute best so don't give up!

MrsRhettButler Sun 28-Aug-11 02:57:26

I've just remembered how much I love hamsters. I want one sad

TeamDamon Sun 28-Aug-11 11:01:30

Well, we have a lovely black and white one - an absolute bargain - free to a good home! wink grin

Glad to know we're not alone, Poshbaggirl, although sorry you're going through this too - I feel so sorry for the DC!

We had ours out in her run last night, and I managed to 'handle' her - she was in her chew tube, which I held in my hands and she poked her head out and had a good sniff of my hands - managed a few minutes before she got spooked. And DS stroked her back really gently while she was in her food bowl (mouth full already, you see - no scope for biting grin) and she didn't spook at all. Progress!

We have been chatting to her lots as well (including me apologising to her this am for waking her up while hoovering...)

<baby steps, baby steps...>

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