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Small pets

We can't tame our hamster.

18 replies

oopslateagain · 19/04/2013 18:07

We got a hamster from Pets at Home at the beginning of Feb. While DD was choosing one, I asked the salesman how old they were, how much they had been handled etc - they were 9 weeks old and had NEVER been handled. Not at all. Hmm

Of course, by that time, DD had chosen one and named him. The salesman scooped him into the box without touching it.

10 weeks later and we still can't handle him. We've tried, we really have. I've had about 10 hamsters over the years (not including the totally unexpected litter of 5 from a "male hamster" we'd had for 2 weeks), so it's not like I'm a novice at small furry animals. He will just tolerate me putting my hand in his cage and touching his back - for about two seconds, then he turns and rears up and nips.

I am on the point of giving up. :(

OP posts:
OnceUponAThyme · 19/04/2013 18:23

try offering treats from the palm of your hand, but dont try and touch or lift him.
you could get a large plastic box/ cardboard box and put some tubes and toys in it. while hamster is in box, let it sniff your hands, and run over them so he gets used to your smell and realises you mean no harm.
another way I've read is to sit in a dry bath, lined with a towel and let hamster run over you to get used to you. you can move slowly to picking it up after it gets more used to you.
it does take time and some hamsters never really enjoy being picked up but you'll get there Smile

chaime · 19/04/2013 18:26

Could it be a Russian hamster? They're the least tame-able kind apparently.

We got a hamster from Pets at Home and were told it was a male hamster. We were wondering after a few days why it suddenly turned reclusive and angry - we found out when we opened its hidey-home one morning and there were 6 babies in there Hmm

Madratlady · 19/04/2013 18:32

Don't give up!

OnceUponAThyme's advice is great.

Put some gloves on when you have to handle him, if you have thick gardening gloves use them, he'll soon learn that nipping has no consequences.

oopslateagain · 19/04/2013 19:18

It's a Syrian hamster, they're usually the easiest to handle.

If I offer treats from my hand, he doesn't touch the treats - he nips me. If my hand is near him, he nips. If I just put my hand on the floor so he can get used to my smell, he comes up, sniffs, and nips.

Honestly, over two months of this - is he really going to improve? :(

OP posts:
NotYourCheese · 19/04/2013 19:21

I had a hamster that actually screamed in fear when I tried to hold him.
It was awful, he just didn't like being held.

noitsachicken · 19/04/2013 19:25

Try rubbing your hands in his bedding etc before you try to handle him. Might make you seem less alien. And spend time just with your hands around him without touching him. Also offering treats etc as others have suggested.

oopslateagain · 19/04/2013 19:33

I can't spend time with my hands around him, he freaks (stands on his back legs, tense and rigid) and then lunges and nips. Ditto if I offer treats. He either does the freeze-lunge-nip, or creeps forward, grabs the treat, and scurries back into his house to hide.

I've tried holding his bedding. It hasn't helped.

I'm not being dismissive of the suggestions, honestly. Thank you all. Please keep them coming - if there's something I haven't tried, it's worth a shot.

OP posts:
OnceUponAThyme · 19/04/2013 19:36

some hamsters won't tolerate being picked up inside the cage. I think the bath idea might be good for your hammy, entice him into a hamster ball or cup with food and then sit in the bath with him for ten minutes or
I know it's obvious but wash your hands before handling so you dont smell like food. maybe offer carrot sticks through the bars so nipping is minimum.
gloves are a good idea so you feel more confident handling him, but don't lift him till you can touch him. don't touch him from behind or do it suddenly.
maybe tucking a tissue into your bra all day then leaving it in his cage would be an idea, so he gets used to you. trying to think of more.

OnceUponAThyme · 19/04/2013 19:38

also, put your hands in the cage to refill food, water, reshape sawdust etc without approaching him. ignore him and do something harmless. this will teach him hands don't mean anything stressful maybe.

oopslateagain · 19/04/2013 20:46

I do wash my hands before handling him. He ignores my hands if I mess about in the cage - I can keep my hand in his cage as long as it's nowhere near him, and he's quite happy. It's only when I approach him (or he approaches me) that he gets stressed.

He will take food if offered through the bars, it just isn't helping.

The tissue in the bra is a good idea, maybe just holding the bedding for a few minutes isn't enough. I will try that, and the 'bath time' (well we've got a walk-in shower with a proper door, which is close enough).

Fingers crossed.

OP posts:
OnceUponAThyme · 19/04/2013 21:15

hope it works. it can take time. I had a hammy who was like a furry ninja for three months but with persistence and bribery, he would cuddle in our laps and came to the cage door to be lifted out.

oopslateagain · 19/04/2013 21:16

Grin at furry ninja. That's what we've got!

OP posts:
Hamsty123 · 09/05/2018 08:19

I got my hamster 1 year and a half already, I still can’t tame him. Does anybody has any tip?

PinkBassoon · 16/05/2018 12:43

We have had our little hamster for one week. He is pretty friendly and will be picked up and stroked.
The problem we're having is that he will just leap out of our hands - is this normal? Will he calm down as he gets older?!
I like the suggestion of holding him in the bath - we will try that later!

Sonotkylie · 07/06/2018 18:10

I thought we were going to have to give up on ours, but DS spent weeks by the cage reading the Beano to his hamster to get him used to his voice. We handled with gloves on to start with and tried the hands in bedding, treats etc as outlined above.
This is 2 + years ago and he's been great since the initial 'training' (of us). He does hate still being held in cupped hands - likes to look around! And last year he bit someone who was looking after him who to be fair handled him badly, so he still has firm views on how it should be done. Good luck.

SatsukiKusakabe · 14/06/2018 11:26

I tamed a tricky one for a friend by marking out a large space on the floor with a pen or similar, a big fleece down and then I laid on the floor and let it run around me with some things to explore and food strategically placed closer and closer to me. It was not a short exercise, it took a couple of hours one evening. Quiet house, let it run around you have treats on you and reward vocally like you would a dog if it comes near - tongue clicks and good boy or whatever. You can read a book or something as well! I got it out of the cage in a small paper towel tube so I didn’t have to pick it up and let her come out in own time. Was happy to be held by friend at end of evening even though she hadn’t been the one handling it at first. Prior to that they had had it months with just hiding and biting.

Hope you find something that works for you.

Anonymou · 03/09/2018 23:57

Hi! I got a russian dwarf hamster about 2 months ago now, also from pets at home. She's been a tough one to tame, but we're getting there. I found sitting in an empty bath helps a lot (with a towel down for grip). Once she seemed ok, climbing on my legs and feet, I started picking her up in a box, and then letting her out on my hand about an inch off the bottom of the bath. At first she jumped straight off, but after 2-3 weeks she paused on my hand a bit. For the last 2 weeks, I have cupped my hands against my chest while sat in the bath (so it's hard for her to get down, but if she falls she won't get hurt) and had a family member gently tip her out into my hands. We sit there for only about 20 seconds before she climbs down my body and into the bath - but it just helps get her used to me. I feed her 2 or 3 pumpkin seeds while she's in the bath climbing around me (usually 20-30 minutes) then I try gently scooping her up. I have only succeeded twice, but it helps. So yeah - maybe try that?

oh - I do this every time I wash her cage, so once a week. I also hand feed her 2ish pumpkin seeds if I see her out and about in her cage (maximum of 4 a day)

I've definitely taken a fair few bites from her during the first month, but it has been a while now. However, she still bites my mum, who has much less to do with her. So.. Hmm She lives in my room, which may or may not be helping get her used to my smell - I'm not sure.

Anyway - hope I helped!

Anonymou · 04/09/2018 00:02

Also - it's surprising to hear it's a syrian hamster! I have seen cases where as soon as people take theirs home they can pick them up and play with them, which sounds crazy to me! Grin

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