Lots of people who are considering getting a hamster ask me ‘are hamsters friendly?’ Well they certainly can be if they are properly trained and socialised. But, if they haven’t been trained and handled from a young age, they may not be friendly. Some hamsters can be aggressive and may even bite.
Some Hamsters can be Aggressive
When a hamster is startled, scared or not used to being handled, it may bite. Hamster bites can be very nasty. That’s because of their extremely sharp and long two front teeth. They almost work like razors or scissors. This can be painful and there can be a lot of blood as they can be deep bites.
What to do if you get a Hamster Bite
If you get a hamster bite you should wash the wound immediately in cold water to make sure that the wound is clean. If you ever get bitten by a hamster and it clamps on, do not shake it! This will make the bite worse. Try to gentle remove it or pry the hamster off with the other hand. Do not shout at or even worse scold or hit the hamster if it bites. It will not understand why it is being told off since the bite was a natural reaction to fear. Hitting or scolding a hamster will make it even more aggressive.
Most hamster bites are out of fear or because they think that your fingers are food. It’s a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly before you put them in so there is no confusing food smell!
How to Train a Hamster to be Friendly
If you know that a hamster is aggressive you might need to take precautions such as wearing gloves when you first start to handle it. However, this may mask your smell which a hamster will get used to and learn to trust. It’s a better approach to get the hamster used to you very slowly and this type of exposure to humans often has very positive results. It could take a number of weeks say 4-5 for your hamster to get used to you and used to being handled.
- Spend time being near to the cage (week 1).
- Start to place your hand in the cage for positive things like adding food to his bowl (week 2).
- Start to hand feed to hamster treats such as sunflower seeds. Be slow, gentle and patient (week 3).
- Try approaching the hamster gently and petting the hamster if he will let you (week 4).
- Finally you can see if the hamster will jump onto your hand and be handled (week 5).
My Hamsters have all been so Friendly!
I am lucky because I trained all of my hamsters in the above way and they were all extremely friendly. My hamster called Benji used to love to run up my arm and even through my sleeves!!! He only ever bit me once in the two and a half years and that was an accident because I had my hand in food!
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