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Bitey hamster

(22 Posts)
agnesf Sun 15-Dec-13 22:39:41

We have just got a hamster. She is DDs Xmas present.

Having read book we picked a "lively one" but am worried she's a bit too lively. She's been up and about quite a lot since we got her (a day ago) and is very friendly - happy to come up to the bars and take bits of food from us.

She doesn't seem to mind us putting our hands in the cage - she'll happily approach them but then just bites our fingers. I think maybe she thinks they are food.

We did try getting her out of cage this evening and put her in a big plastic box so we could stroke her but she just rushed round like a loon rubbing herself all over the box and scrabbling up the sides.

Having googled various stuff I think we have been going a bit fast and should leave her alone for a few days and then try getting her used to our hand in the cage gently but I'm still wondering if she'll want to try out biting our fingers.

Have also read that we should wash our hands so they don't smell like food and stop feeding her food through the bars but was wondering if anyone else has any advice on convincing her that our hands aren't edible. The bites are really deep and bleed loads so not keen to let her have a few more goes to realise that they are fingers, not food

I had hamsters as a kid and can't remember ever having to tame them but am wondering if in those days pet shops were less like supermarkets and the hamsters were handled more before being sold.

AutumnStarOfWonder Sun 15-Dec-13 22:42:29

I remember having hamsters as a child and one in particular was quite vicious when we first got her, but she was really friendly once we got used to her. I think just lots and lots of gentle handling is the way forward, once she's used to her surroundings. Get her out and then offer her a treat maybe?

How old is she and what type? If she's very young she's probably just not used to being handled.

CointreauVersial Sun 15-Dec-13 22:42:40

Marking my place, as we are getting hamsters shortly for the DDs. They've had the class hamster home for the weekend, and he's a complete softy, but I'm worried we'll end up with a nippy one too.

agnesf Wed 18-Dec-13 19:12:23

Update - we have left her alone for a while and she's made herself at home and built the most humungous pile of paper and shavings to sleep in.

Tonight we tried putting our hands in with a rubber glove on. The result - a bit of biting and shocked look when bitten hand moved. Then a load of rushing around cage rubbing herself on sides and gnawing of bars. I think she's scared but maybe will get used to it. Think the rubbing is to do with reasserting her territory.

At least being bitten through a rubber glove doesn't hurt so much.

We gave her some food from the gloved hand.

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Wed 18-Dec-13 19:24:13

she will need at least 48hrs on her own to acclimatise, so put her in a quiet and warm room, and leave her in the corner for that time

then, if she's never been handled before, start to lift the cage to different positions during the day, so she gets used to the feeling of motion (still out of draughty places though)

after 3/4 days, start to put your hand in the cage, but don't offer treats, she will associate your fingers with food and that encourages biting!

rub your hand in her bedding, so she knows your scent, and after a further 3/4 days (so after about a week in your house) your hand slowly to stroke her. also using something like a toilet-roll inner, get her to climb in it and then lift it, again getting her to recognise the feeling of motion.

do this for a few days, then lift the tube into your lap, and allow her to run about on you.

keep repeating all of these activities for about a month, and you should find her a lot more amenable

agnesf Thu 19-Dec-13 20:58:56

God I'm so confused. Some people say put something nice in your hand for her to eat. Some don't.

A friend who has had hamsters suggested a woolly glove which had been worn next to skin for a while to pick up the smell.

This went ok - she did bite it but more in a chewy way. But after eating a couple of seeds off my palm she then started being more bitey and climbing up my arm in a frantic way.

She still seems pretty agitated about having our hands in the cage as its always followed by loads of rushing about and rubbing on stuff.

At least the glove has stopped us being scared as she didn't really sink her teeth in.

BellaVita Thu 19-Dec-13 21:06:35

She will calm down, just keep persevering.

Our first one never took a bite whatsoever. You could kiss him forever and he would love it, he would put his little face up to me and rest his chin on my lips.

The one we have now was very nervous for ages, we always used to put our hand in the sawdust first. Now we don't have to bother. We can kiss him loads too, when he has had enough, he puts his paw on my lips grin

agnesf Fri 20-Dec-13 22:24:52

Thanks for words of reassurance. DD was really upset last night as she had visions of the hamster being her new friend for Xmas. I got to stage of wondering whether to take her back to pet shop.

Haven't seen her tonight as have been out.

Am wondering if our two lovely GPs could "wheeeeeek" her a message to tell her we are nice and not good to eat.

lade Mon 23-Dec-13 12:32:26

I don't wish to contradict others, but one book we read said not to put your arm / hand into their cage, as that is invading their territory and can be really stressful for them.

With our hamsters, they come to us, to come out of the cage. To start off with, we left them alone for several days to get used to their new environment and do be stress free.

We did feed the hamsters tit bits from the cage to get used to us.

Then to get them out, we put a box into their cage, and lifted them out. We made an escape proof run and my DD sat in it. We allowed the hamster to run over her, get used to her smell, but she did not move or stroke it.

After doing this for a while, she then started stroking and handling the hamster inside the penned area.

We have done this with all our hamsters, and all have tamed nicely and do not bite. As I said previously, they are now in the routine, that when we open up the cage door, they will come over and come out, but it is always on their terms... They still do not like us in their cage grin

As I said, this is just the advice I got from one hamster book, and it worked for us. If the other advice you have been given does not, then you might find this woks for you.
DD2 was six when she tamed her hamster and DD1 was 7 when we tamed her first hamster.

starofbethlehemfishmummy Mon 23-Dec-13 12:42:06

Hamsters bite - its what they do. This one may get acclimatised to being handled but no guarantee.

agnesf Tue 24-Dec-13 07:07:29

This thread sums up all the confusing different advice on hamster taming I've read!

Latest development - we put her cage in the bath, took the top off and let her get out and put our hands in the bath. We are still too scared to use naked hands! This is similar to what lade is suggesting.

Do you give the hamsters food while doing this lade?

It was reasonably successful. She came out, ran on hands, bit the gloves a bit but then just ignored them. I think bath taming is the way to go as its easier to touch her and get hands out of way if she starts biting.

She was quite happy in the bath for a while but then spent ages scrabbling up the sides to get out. My feeling about her is that she is just very active and doesn't like being penned in. She spends hours chewing her bars manically and hasn't worked out how to run around in her hamster wheel so is a bundle of pent up hamstery energy.

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Tue 24-Dec-13 07:16:40

Sounds like you're making good progress, the bath is a great idea!

Have you got a plastic ball for her to run in? They are great for short intervals, and you can also keep her in it on your lap to get her used to sitting on you.

lade Tue 24-Dec-13 09:41:47

Try putting something / somewhere for the hamster to hide in the run. If may feel less threatened if it has got something to hide in. I know ours used to run back to its hide, then venture out again when it got more confident.

And yes, we did put treats in the run with us, little bits of cheese etc. at first, they didn't take them (too stressed), but repeat this process every day, and after a few days it came to know the score and was happy to eat food near us, then on us, then from us without biting.

agnesf Fri 10-Jan-14 13:52:52

A quick update on progress to help anyone wondering whether a hamster is a good idea.

Bath exercise is going very well. She gets out of the cage, mooches about and is much calmer when we try to touch her. DD has sat in the bath with her and she walks on her, sits on her hands (we've still got woolly gloves on). She still nibbles the gloves but not so bitey.

Lade's advice re not putting hands in the cage is really good. She has clearly made the cage her home now, with multiple quite badly hidden food hoards (think it means she feels safe that no one will steal them). We've been rubbing our hands on the cage so she gets used to our smell.

I even tried a bare hand in the bath and she just sniffed it in passing - no more attack mode biting.

Will let you know when we manage bare hands holding!

DustBunnyFarmer Fri 10-Jan-14 19:03:06

Interesting. We need to tame ours, but in safer circumstances than the ones where one of ours fell nearly a metre onto a tiled floor. We used the bath to clean the cage. We'll give handling another go there over the weekend.

lade Fri 10-Jan-14 20:38:24

Agnes, good hear it is going well. Hamsters make great pets when tame grin

CointreauVersial Sat 18-Jan-14 14:52:36

Well, we took delivery of two cute little Russian Dwarf girls today!

The Pet Shop lady, who is a small animals expert and breeds hamsters herself, said to handle them straight away, and to keep doing it on and daily basis so they don't "forget" who you are.

She also said it is very important to wash hands BEFORE you handle them, otherwise the skin odour smells like food and you risk being nibbled.

So far, so good - lots of handling and no bites or escapes yet!

Hope you are getting on OK, OP.

agnesf Fri 24-Jan-14 00:12:35

A quick update - bath exercise sessions going well. She's happy to clamber all over DD (who wears a onesy to avoid hamster up leg) and will let us pick her up and less glove biting now but we are still too scared to take the gloves off. She has definitely been less antagonistic since we stopped bring our hands in from above.

She's quite cute but a bit mad. Her hoarding has reached epic proportions - she now empties the whole food bowl and takes into the downstairs section of her cage and spends ages arranging it in a corner - not hidden at all. We got her some seeded chew stick things and she has bitten off huge chunks and got them into her corner.

She's not very cuddly yet but hey ho - maybe that will come.

CointreauVersial Fri 24-Jan-14 22:40:17

Good to hear things are improving, OP.

Our two Russian Dwarf girls are different as can be. DD2's is incredibly mellow, and is happy to be picked up and handled, and has never had so much as a nibble. DD1's is a little more "stressy" and makes a few attempts to sink her teeth in when you first pick her up. But they are just gnawing bites really, and she doesn't break the skin. But after just a few seconds of being stroked and talked to she quickly calms down, and will happily chamber all over DD1 without biting again.

DD1 is a bit nervous, but I've told her she has to persevere; I'm happy to do the initial handling as the nibbles really don't bother me, then I pass her over to DD1 once she has got used to the handling.

They love their little hamster balls, and follow me around the room. They are the cutest little pair.

agnesf Tue 04-Feb-14 21:52:50

A further update. She is really getting tame now. Has not bitten the woolly gloves for days now and is very happy for us to pick her up and cuddle her. I have even picked her up with no gloves today and absolutely no attempts at biting.

We still don't pick her up from inside the cage and so I'd recommend a cage that you can take the whole top off so its easy to get at hammy.

We are hoping to let her out of bath confines soon so that she can explore the whole bath room as we are much more confident about picking her up. DD is so happy that we didn't take her back to pet shop smile

lechers Wed 05-Feb-14 00:47:08

Yay! Glad it's going well.

You might find when your hamster is fully tame, that it will come to you for his outings. I know we open the doors to the cages, and our hamsters come straight over for a little explore / play.

agnesf Mon 17-Mar-14 17:17:24

A sad postscript to this story. Our little one had to be put to sleep over the weekend as she had a tumour in her stomach. DD is very upset because we had come so far with her and we'd only had her 3 months.

Still she has taught us some valuable lessons about hammies and we all loved her eventually despite the difficult start.

Its v sad to see her cage all empty and no signs of manic activity.

We are going to get another one but from a different pet shop this time where they handle the animals more - have told DD we'll ask for the tamest one even if its the ugliest there.

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