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Small pets

Advice from hamster lovers

25 replies

itsureis · 01/10/2021 14:53

We've had Waffles now for a week.
He's our first hamster and seems to be settling in well.
He's in a multi levelled cage and we make him a 6ft run for when he's awake in the evening.
The kids are asking to feed and stroke him but I'm a little cautious, and a little scared, as I don't want any of us to get bitten.
When he comes out of the cage, he happily jumps into his ball and then he put him into his run.

When, and how is the best way to get him more familiar with us and happy to be handled ?
Thanks !

Advice from hamster lovers
Advice from hamster lovers
OP posts:
someonesomewhere7 · 01/10/2021 14:59

I has a tiny siberian that I handled from the first day. She used to nibble, but not exactly bite. It could make kids freak out and drop it though, so I would warn them about that.

If it's been a week I don't see why you couldn't try to feed it little bites and pick it up carefully. And if it goes well, the kids can then try it too.

AndSoFinally · 01/10/2021 15:13

They're usually pretty well-handled in the shop if you get it from a pet store so she should be used to it. Put your hand in her run and just let her sniff you. You can get them to climb into a toilet roll or some thing to lift them out and then just let them run in your lap while you get used to her

chaosrabbitland · 01/10/2021 15:21

the ones that bite or nip tend to be in my experiance of hamsters either really timid , they will shy away from you and not come near at all , and the vicious ones will just screech , and lunge in for the kill , we have had a timid one who would nip if you tried to handle him as he was so so nervous , he just couldnt take even your hand laid out in front of him and the vicious one , well she was something else lol .
if waffles is coming out quite happily id say hes not over timid and you would know by now if he was savage trust me ,

let him come to you ,open cage door ,wait for him to approach and lay hand out flat for him to sniff , and carry on that way until hes used to being gently stroked , you have to be prepared sometimes for the odd nibble as they dont see brilliantly , but its generally only a mild nibble in a friendly hamster . make sure the kids know not to stick their fingers through bars though as they will mistake for food and now that can lead to a nip , always stroke and handle once they are out of the cage

SameToo · 01/10/2021 15:24

I always handled them straight away. We used to do the thing where you sit on the floor and make a run with your legs and they can go over to people and let you stroke them if they want to. Need to make sure he doesn’t escape over the legs though Grin

cricketmum84 · 01/10/2021 15:27

Aww waffles is lovely!!

The best way is to practice handling a couple of times every day. The more you handle him the more he will get used to it. Also try handling at the same time as a nice veg treat. Ours loved broccoli and kiwi.

We have had 3 Russian dwarves in the past and none of them but us. In fact little boris used to snuggle up on my chest and fall asleep!

itsureis · 01/10/2021 17:35

Thanks for your replies.
I will try sitting inside his run with him, so he can't escape.
I'm just quite nervous of him being so small and very fast 😬

OP posts:
cricketmum84 · 01/10/2021 17:56

@itsureis they sure are speedy little things!!

I remember when we had midnight. I came downstairs one morning and the cat had knocked her cage over onto its side!! I was frantically searching through the sawdust for her and she came whizzing past me at the speed of light with the cat hot on her tail. God knows how she didn't get eaten!!

itsureis · 01/10/2021 18:12


OP posts:
lopiu · 01/10/2021 19:30

Hi, in terms of care, a multi-levelled cage is very unlikely to be what you need unfortunately. Hamsters don't do well with or need levels. Make sure to do some research on Facebook groups such as "Hamsters UK" or Youtube, channels like Victoria Rachael are great. Hamsters are much easier to tame when their environment is correct and if your advice has come from a pet shop its very very likely you will need to change their cage and also most of the accessories you are using. Balls, for example, are dangerous. And the wheel pictured is not suitable. But the run is great! Having regular free roam time is a great thing for a hamster :)

In terms of taming, its pot luck whether you have one thats quite easy or one thats difficult and can take many months to tame. Begin with just being in the same space as them, if he's not jumpy every time you move that's a good start. Then I usually start offering treats. When they are eating, try stroking his back. If he's happy with that, place the treat in the palm of your hand and see if he will walk on your hand. I then normally move to scooping (make sure you scoop from underneath and don't grab) them up and holding them for just a few seconds. I then increase the amount of time I hold until they are fully comfortable and I consider them tame. I've had hamsters where each of those stages has taken weeks and the whole taming process 6 months plus. Other hamsters where each is only a day or two and they were fully tame within a month so all hamsters are different! But they are very small, vulnerable prey animals that if from a pet shop have very likely never been handled in their lives so it's very important to take it slowly. Best of luck! Hope you enjoy owning hamsters, they are the best!

itsureis · 02/10/2021 00:55

He seems to like his wheel as he's always on it and the same with the ball, although now he has the run we don't use the ball for exercise just for lifting him from the cage.
I'll check out the groups you suggested but which wheel would you recommend?
Thanks ..

OP posts:
lopiu · 02/10/2021 08:55

@itsureis So, syrian hamsters need at minimum a 30cm diameter upright wheel. Flying saucers and wheels that are too small cause the hamster to bend or twist which is at best uncomfortable and at worst, causes permanent damage to their spine. So, any wheel that is 30-33cm in diameter, is upright and has a solid running surface should be ok. The trixie wheels are a popular option as they are very cheap. The plastic one can be a bit noisy but the wooden one is very quiet.

TenThousandSpoons · 02/10/2021 09:12

Cute hamster and the run looks great! In terms of handling, try cupping him in your hands so he can hop out easily and he’ll get used to walking on your skin briefly at first but then he might stay longer. They tend to bite if scared ie trapped so make sure he can easily get off your hands at first and he shouldn’t bite.
The Facebook hamster groups are great for advice but the first thing is to make sure his cage is the minimum required of 80cm x 50cm floor space on one level. And the 28cm upright wheel is minimum for a Syrian.

itsureis · 02/10/2021 10:00

Thank you !
My friend request is pending for the FB group and I'll order a new wheel today.

I'll keep you posted 👍

OP posts:
cricketmum84 · 02/10/2021 10:05

We had the flying saucer type wheels for ours. I'm now worrying that I inadvertently hurt them! I bought them because I thought they would be better for them than the traditional type!

itsureis · 04/10/2021 12:49


So I'm going to have to rethink the super run that I built for waffles as he's discovered that he can lift it up and escape !!
Do others just let their hamsters roam free on an evening ? I'm obviously worried about him getting stuck somewhere and about my electric cables !


OP posts:
TenThousandSpoons · 05/10/2021 09:22

We use a play pen which is a kids ball pit. But have to watch hammy all the time in it as he could nibble through it quite easily if he decided to, and it’s not that much bigger than his cage tbh. Some people free roam around a hamster proof room.

cricketmum84 · 05/10/2021 14:27



So I'm going to have to rethink the super run that I built for waffles as he's discovered that he can lift it up and escape !!
Do others just let their hamsters roam free on an evening ? I'm obviously worried about him getting stuck somewhere and about my electric cables !


I have cats so nope nope and double nope 😂

I do have a friend who had 2 fancy rats though and their cage was open all day and they would just come perch on your shoulder. They were adorable!!
itsureis · 05/10/2021 15:05

Gosh - and here's me thinking that they would an easy first pet 😂

I've modified the run slightly and placed Jamie Oliver cookbooks on top to keep it weighted down. They have a purpose at last 😬

OP posts:
TenThousandSpoons · 06/10/2021 07:22

I was going to ask if there was a way you could weight it down. That’s good that Jamie Oliver has a purpose after all Grin

pinkpirlie · 14/10/2021 21:42

Hamsters are not the cheap and easy pet that pet stores market them as. They have highly complex and expensive needs and can cost thousands to keep a year.

In terms of an enclosure, a Syrian will need a minimum of 100*50cm on a single level. Deep & varied substrate, lots of hidey places, enrichment items, quality food, and a sand bath. A 28cm wheel minimum, but you may need a larger one. As a result I would recommend an enosjre that is at least 40cm high to get the required bedding depth (30cm) with room for enrichment items before the lid.

Hamster balls are dangerous and inhumane so I won't recommend using one.

In terms of bonding, this can take a long time.
Getting the enclosure right will help prevent stress and stereotypy behaviours (monkey barring, gnawing at the bars, etc), and will make it easier to handle your new companion. You can start slowly by putting your hand into the enclosure, popping tissues that gave your scent on into the enclosure daily, giving treats from your fingers, then palm, gradually your little one should start to trust you. Once they are trusting, you can stroke them whilst they are enjoying a snack and hopefully over time they will start to allow you to handle them.
It is worth remembering that not every hamster will ever become comfortable with being handled. Some will be "look and don't touch". We have four hamsters and two won't be handled at all.

I recommend checking out Instagram as there are loads of proper care accounts on there as well as "Proper Hamster Care" on Facebook. Victoria Rachael and Erin's Animals on Youtube are also great.

In terms of the pen you have, we have the same one. You just need to ensure you supervise at all times. Although free roam is also possible if you are able to block off places your little one may be able to get into/destroy. Check out NicoSyrianhamster on insta as she does lots of free roam videos with her two Syrians.

tinypatters · 23/10/2021 06:37

Hey itsureis, I found really good advice in this article:

I know the article is about pet rats, but I would say the process of getting your hamster to trust you is similar. Getting a pet to trust you takes time and patience, and can take anywhere from a week or two, to a couple of months. The amount of time needed also depends on factors such as the amount of time that you (and your kids) spend with the hamster, the history of your pet (store-bought vs rescued), and the consistency in which you and your family interact with Waffles.

What I found that can help is whenever you let Waffles out of his cage is to give him a treat to show that you mean no harm. If you are worried that your kids will drop him and he will then runaway, have a wide but tall cardboard box filled with soft bedding ready, and have your kids hold Waffles above the box, so that if he does nip them or if they accidentally drop him, he will drop into the box. The bedding should cushion the fall, and the box prevents escape (and the crazy search that can happen after lol)

Again, another article that I found from the same site that is somewhat relevant to handling a hamster (since mice are similarly sized, if not smaller: I hope it is useful for you, especially when you introduce your kids to Waffles and vice versa!
xx TPatters

HeartvsBrain · 23/10/2021 07:31

Hi OP, you sound like a very good and caring mum to your little hamster, and because of that I am sure you will succeed with him, as long as he hasn't too much of a buggery attitude! However, this bit of (hopefully) advice is not for you but for others thinking of what first (small) pet to get.

I would suggest mice - but they do like company so it wouldn't be fair to keep just one mouse - mice generally tend to be more friendly than hamsters, and in my opinion much more entertaining. They love multistorey homes, ladders, wheels etc, but as with all prospective pets, read a lot about them before you get one or more.

If you are home a lot of the time, and have the room for a rat, and are not grossed out by the thought of them, I think that a rat makes a wonderful pet. I think they are very cute, and real companions, who if treated correctly and carefully, will spend most of their time wanting to be with you, and snuggled into you when tired. But I have found that rats often tend to prefer just one person, they won't be (or shouldn't be) nasty to other people if they have been brought up properly from a very young age, but they will often favour one over others. However, I do think that they are probably best in families with children over ten, and that if you want a rat for a child, give it as an individual present to that child, and encourage the child to do most of it's care, so that they build up a very good bond, and of course it is a great way to teach children about the responsibilty of taking care a living creature.

itsureis · 26/10/2021 18:13

So I have another question on Scooby (yes his name has changed 😂)

Over the past 10 days he hasn't been that bothered on leaving his cage and when he has he's just sat and ate rather than running around.

He's also moved out of his house and took up residence behind it, piling up the bedding around him 🤷‍♀️

Is this normal behaviour ?

OP posts:
pinkpirlie · 26/10/2021 18:59

Totally normal behaviour.
Our dwarf moves house regular to the different hides around his enclosure (I think he has about 8?)
He is currently in residence behind his wheel in a corner.

None of ours are keen on free roam time. We will get them out from time to time, but the don't enjoy it.
I just take that to mean we have created such lovely enclosures for them they don't need the time out.
We don't have any bar biting, monkey barring or stereotypy behaviours so I'm happy they are happy.

itsureis · 27/10/2021 12:37

Thank you @pinkpirlie

He seems happy enough so I'll continue doing what I'm doing 🥰

OP posts:
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