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How to Train Your Hamster to Let You Hold Him

Updated on January 16, 2016

Hamsters can be decent pets for children, as long as they are tamed and trained properly. They may initially bite, but with patience and time, it is possible to turn a new, fearful hamster into a very loving pet.

It's easier to train a hamster when he is young. Sort of like people; it's easier to train a child to clean up his mess, than starting out training an adult. So, when training your hamster to accept you, you want to start young.

An older hamster may not be as accepting of being held as a younger hamster. Hamsters that aren't used to being held will become more solitary, and often won't learn how to accept your touch. This is not to say that an older hamster can't ever be handled; it may just take much longer to train him to be social than it would for a younger hamster.

It will take time to train your hamster to like you. Don't get frustrated, and keep at it.

Let Your New Hamster Rest

If you've picked out your hamster, and you've got him all set up, leave him alone. It's very stressful moving to a new environment with new people, smells, and accessories. When you bring your hamster home, you are stressing him out by changing his diet, enclosure, and overall environment. So don't add any additional challenges; let him alone so he can adjust.

Stress can make him sick. Wet-tail is a very common illness that can be fatal if it's not noticed and treated early enough. It is caused by stress, which upsets the balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract, causing diarrhea and dehydration.

So make the car ride home quiet and peaceful: no loud music, no poking fingers, and no getting the hamster out of the box.

Then, when you get home, carefully put the hamster into the new cage, Remember that the ride itself has been stressful, so your hamster may try to bite you when you put him in the cage. You may want to use gloves, or just gently slide the hamster out of the box and into the cage. (Don't dump him forcefully though.)

Leave him alone for at least three days. Don't stick your hands or fingers in the cage or through the bars unless you're changing food or water. Don't make loud noises around the cage, move the cage, shake it, or have everyone in the house or the neighborhood come over to stand at the cage and watch.

Your hamster will start to get to know you from your smell and your voice in those few days.

Holding Him for the First Time

First and probably most important tip: Let sleeping hamsters lie. You do not ever want to disturb your hamster while he's sleeping. He may become stressed which can stir up illnesses and health problems. Plus, a grouchy hamster is more likely a hamster who will bite.

Once you understand to just let your hamster sleep, handling can be a cinch. Just remember to be patient. It may take time.

Start out by holding your hamster when he's awake, and more towards the evening time. Even if your hamster is walking around during the day, it's just not the best time to hold him, as he's probably still half- asleep.

If you try to hold your hamster and he starts to growl, squeak, grind his teeth, or show his incisors, leave him alone! If the hamster is eating, stretching, grooming, or just hanging out, give it a try then.

Tips for Handling a Hamster

Once timing is right, take things in stages. You can't rush the hamster into liking you. You have to build his trust and confidence.

Let the hamster check out your hand. Smell and hearing are the hamster's two strongest senses. Let him sniff your hand and fingers. You may want to wash your hands beforehand, as if you smell like food your hamster may try to nip you.

Let the hamster come to you. Never chase after the hamster. If you chase him, he'll remember that and it'll make taming him that much harder.

Keep each interaction short.

Once your hamster has gotten used to your smell, you can try offering a small bit of a treat. This will entice the hamster to come closer to your hand. Put the treat in your palm, and hold out your hand palm up. The hamster will have to climb onto your hand to get the treat. Let him do this a few times until he's used to jumping into your hand.

If the hamster starts to eat the treat in your hand, you can try to gently pet the hamster with your other hand. More than likely, the hamster will be so busy with the treat, he won't notice you're petting him.

Once the hamster is comfortable with you, you can try cupping your hands around him, once he's in your palm, and carefully removing him from the cage. He may urinate on your hands the first few times, but it's from fear. He'll eventually relax and get used to you.

Also, remember that hamsters have poor eyesight, so try to stay low when you are with him. You don't want your hamster to try to run away from you and end up falling onto the floor from a bed or chair. Try sitting on the floor. Some people recommend sitting in the bathtub.

It will take time to acclimate your hamster to letting you hold him and play with him. Just be patient. Never chase him around his cage. Always let the hamster come to you.


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      Hamster 36 hours ago

      I have just bought my 3rd Syrian hamster. When handling you must make sure you don't hurt the hamster and you shouldn't chase him but if you don't move your hands (slowly) towards him, he will realise that if he doesn't come to you he will not be picked up so he if is eating or playing or even sleeping he won't come anywhere near you. You have to go to him but if you haven't caught him/her wishing 1-2mins leave him/her alone (if you pester them they will bite). When you handle your hamster scoop him from the underneath by making a cup shape with your hands: hamsters do not like being picked up without warning always make sure they have seen you. If you're hamster jumps out of your hands don't chase it but say no or bad and possibly if they keep doing this take away a treat the next day. They are intelligent animals if they know they can get away with not being held, they will! When you wake up your hamster wait until he is fully awake (his ears will prick up) if they are sleepy you may surprise them so they will be more likely to bite.

      BTW sorry for long post just had lots to say

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      Christie 10 days ago

      I just got a hamster not long ago but when I try to pick him up, he bites. How do I stop my hamster from biting me?

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      Clarissa 3 weeks ago

      Every time I pick up my hamster he gets scared and tries to get out and then I have to quickly put him back in the cage.

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      Sofia 3 weeks ago

      My hamster never stays still when I take him m out of his cage how do I make him stay still ?

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      Ben 4 weeks ago

      My hamster won't let me hold it and she will try to get away

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      Anna 5 weeks ago

      When I try putting my hand in his cage with the treat, he doesn't go for the treat; he goes to my finger and bites it until I leave. How do I prevent this? Is there any other way to tame him? I've had him for over a week now, and he's still a little shy. He sleeps way too much, but he's not sick. I know he's nocturnal, but he sleeps when I wake up, have breakfast, go to school, come home, etc. He sleeps about over 3/4 of the day. This is a lot to ask, but the first part is more urgent. He is a couple months old. Please, can you help?

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      Mattie 5 weeks ago

      I have a robo dwarf hamster. When I go to hold my hamster he runs away and when I try to feed him carrots he also runs! I feel really bad because he almost never gets out of his cage and when I put him into his ball it's always a struggle to get him out. Sometimes when I am trying to get my hamster out he will get loose and it is very hard and scary to catch him. I really want to play with him more.....can you help?

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      Catherine 5 weeks ago

      I have syrian long haired hamster. I got her from pet store when she was only a baby. Her name is chica. She is very cute and beautiful hamster. Everyone loves her. When i first got her she bites . She wasnt held at pet store that is why she bit me and my son and drew blood on my finger. So i decided to pet her through a cardboard stick inside her cage for 5 weeks. I pet her 10 times a day and fed her favourite squash seeds that way she will smell my scent and get used of my voice. At the end its worth it because she loves to be cuddled and she loves playing with my nephew and nieces when they come over. Now she is 2 months old. It takes a lot of time and patience to tame her but for sure she is very spoiled ...

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      amy 6 weeks ago

      tried that don't work what do I do

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      LauraJayne287 8 weeks ago

      I have two Syrian Hamsters. The first one (Bonnie) was terrible when we first got her. She would stand up on two legs and scream at us hahah. But after she got used to our scent and used to being stroked she loves to come out the cage and play. She's now fine with any person that wants to hold her, now she won't stay still!!!

      However, our second hamster (Archie) is a lot more difficult to train. Any movement he jumps feet or freezes for 2 minutes at a time! He's getting a little braver, he comes up to the side of the cage and takes treats from my hand but he's reluctant when it comes to actually climbing onto the palm of my hand to get a treat. Whenever you try and gently pet him he freaks out and tries to bite us, even if he seems relaxed or occupied with something else. He really doesn't like it. I didn't know if anyone knew any other techniques we could try to use in order to tame Archie?? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks :)

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      Hamster problems 2 months ago

      I have a dwarf hamster and whenever i try to hold her she runs. she tries to get out of my hands any way possible. Whats a way i can make her come in my hand not being scared?

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      Lily 2 months ago

      My hamster is a Russian Dwarf... she will run out of my hands if i try to hold her she will do anything to get out of my hands... what do i do? literally she hates me.

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      Alane 2 months ago

      I got a hamster named Peanut. I think I handled her too much too early because now when I try to hold her she hides and won't come on my hands.

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      Ricky 2 months ago

      I have a Syrian hamster named peanut! He's shy and goes into his little home (which is shaped like a peanut) every time humans are around! We got him at Petco so we don't know how old he is, he's pretty big but he's a big sweetheart, but he doesn't stay still when we hold him.

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      Jada Cooper 2 months ago

      My hamsters name is Toast and she is well cared for everyday I've had her for almost a year would that be too old to start training?

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      Amira 3 months ago

      I got 2 Russian Dwarf Hamster both girls and one of them (Diva) screeches at me and bears her teeth when I open her cage I have no idea what to do... The other one (Echo) is fine but when I petted her she almost bit me.

      What do I do?

      They are 2-3 months, I just got them yesterday...

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      Ian Hopp 4 months ago

      I put my hand out with a treat on it and he bit me, i washed my hands too, but he still bit me

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      Jaden 7 months ago

      I just got a female hamster and looking for a name my male come friday his name is gona be DJ

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      Jeff 8 months ago

      Yup it helped my little 5 moths old Dwarf hamster to trust me

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      Elizabeth 8 months ago

      It worked perfectly on my little 5 week old hamster

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      A.A 9 months ago

      I had my teddy bear hamster for a month and still he won't come to me or get in my hand I don't know what to do and he is always frighten by the sound of the cage opening

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      Dave 9 months ago

      My hamster keeps pushing my hand away :( it's been like this for two weeks

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      Joshua wilkins 9 months ago

      Ive had my hamster about 6 weeks now. He has a nice 3 story cage and lots of toys and food and water always available to him. When your able to pick him up he lets u hold him but you can tell if frieghtened, he is always trying to run away from me. When i try to pet him in his cage he makes this wierd noise as if he is scared to death. He always wants to be hidded when people are around. When i come up to his cage normally he runs right for his little hiding home. I dont know what to do. He was not a baby whn i hot him and i have no idea roughly how old he is. Any sugestions? He was in a smaller glass cage before but seemed unhappy so i got him a big cage.

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      brandi lambert 10 months ago

      I just got a baby Dwarf hamster I named him rolo and he likes his cage and his ball but he is a little bit scared of me and every time I try holding him he crawls on my arm and jumps what do I do?????

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      victor 10 months ago

      i am getting a hamste soon in the summer

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      Delany 11 months ago

      I got my hamster yesterday and he's not drinking any food or water. I think he might be a little scared because I tried to pick him up to early. Or it's because his cage is next to the TV and I watched Iron Man. DUMB MISTAKE.

      WHAT DO I DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Kylee 12 months ago

      My hamster (dwarf robo) is very wild! I had him for about 8 or 9 months. I really would like to hold him but he is just so wild. When I clean his cage I try to hold him when I take a few breaks or just to check on him. Will someone please help me!! I really want him to a little bit tamer.

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      em 23 months ago

      Ive got a syrian hamster that runs away all the time and she is 3 years old any advice????

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      olaf 2 years ago

      I had my hamster about a month now before I would Chase him and now I feel sorry I hope this works when I get home I (I'm at my aunts I left him with my mom for the weekend)

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      jesse 3 years ago

      my hamster when shes out with me she will be fine but when i try to

      pic her up in my cage she will runaway or she will duck to avoid me

      what do i do

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      anne-marie 3 years ago

      my hamster s a normal hamster called poppy she keeps biting me all the time she makes me bleed really bad also she bites her cage could you help

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      cameron 4 years ago

      Enybody who's scared don't be!

      Once you get used to it you will absoltly adore him/her

      Don't hold her at first just pet her and speak to him/her gently

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      im not telling 4 years ago

      i just got a hamster

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      Cierra 4 years ago

      I got a baby teddy bear hamster about a month ago from a breeder. They never held her, so the first time I held her she jumped out of my hands, she landed on some stuffed animals. I try to hold her-Lily- at least once a day, but she still jumps out of my hands and she'll hiss and bear her teeth at me. HElP! I want to hold without her jumping!

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      Alei 4 years ago

      I just got a fancy male hamster today and his name is Spaz.. He don't mind being petted but hes a lil shy yet...

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      karlie 4 years ago

      i got my first teddy bear hamster about a month ago. ive had several dwarf hamsters before this one.. his name is Mr.Sprinkles and he bites the metal on his cage allll the time.. it looks like his nose bleeds on the metal when he bites it. :/ ive tried giving him chew toys but he never bites them.. im concerned that hes hurting himself.. what should i do?

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      sam 4 years ago

      i just got a teddy bear hamster his name is jet he is very cute but when i put my hands in his cage to pick him up,He starts running all around the cage and never try to come to me plz help me.ANYONE who could help me in this situation?

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      Rachael 4 years ago

      I just got my hamster (Toby) I got him around 2 months ago. I laid a towel in my bathtub and put a towel covering my knees and I let him out his ball and placed him in front of me. I had gloves on but when I went to try stroke him he tried biting me and hissed at me. What do I do?

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      mia 4 years ago

      I just got a dwarf hamster yesterday and its sooo cute and thank you so much for the advice I did all the advice you gave me and it worked but it just takes time to train your hamster well i named my hamster bubbles cause her cheeks look like big bubbles!

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      Cyruz 4 years ago

      I wil try to train him thanks for the advice!

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      Naya 4 years ago

      I just purchase a Russian dwarf hamster female, she soo cute.I have had her for three days. Her name is anaya she friendly last night she crawl right in my hand but this morning she bite me.

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      Stephanie 4 years ago

      Oh, i had gotten a fancy hamster from the pet strroe, do not know how old she is, nut she is anout 2 inches big. i chase her around because when i put her on the floor, she just runs! she might go under my dresser, and then-you know what i mean. i need help trying to train her to be non-nocturnal. my friend just plays with her all day so shes pooped at night, does that work? well my hamster-Hazel-likes to explore, she will not stay still for one minute!!!!!, will this work for her? i tried giving her a treat from my hand but she wont eat from my hand and when i throw it in the cage she'll come running to eat it. sometimes i think a male would have been a better choice, because they seem more docile.

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      Mason 4 years ago

      Today is the 2nd day I'm with my robo dwarf hamster and I didn't do any of this and I wish I could start over but I never read this but I'll start doing it and I hope it'll be useful someone help me!

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      A Chick 4 years ago

      My hamster is a short haired teddy bear hamster. His name is Harvey. Just got him yesterday and my family instantly fell in love with him! He's a funny little guy and likes to be upside down for some reason. I call him my vampire hamster. I can't wait to train him and get to know him better. Right now he is scared and just adjusting to the new environment. I will be training him in 3 days after he gets settled in and calm. wish me luck!

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      Pokemon xD 5 years ago

      I am getting a baby teddy bear hamster THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S HE IS A TEDDY BEAR hamster so his name is going to be teddy

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      Miami 5 years ago

      I just got a Fancy Russian Dwarf hamster and he lets me pet him then runs off, when you put your hand in the cage he kind of scratches at you. I definitely want to be able to hold and pet him. Hes drinking and eating and excercising absolutely fine, and he seems way happy but just not too friendly. HELP

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      Sam 5 years ago

      Sophie, I know the answer to your comment. I have a male Syrian too! His name is Leo. All of this breed start off like that. If he is still young, give him a treat on the tip of your finger. I recommend the hamster yogurt chips sold at petsmart or petco! Then when he comes to grab it, which eventually he will, make sure he sees u and put on hand on top. Most likely he will go further into your hand. Only try this once a day, or else he might get scared or frustrated thinking it is a prank. You should then hold him over his cage first and slowly go out. If he is comfortable, you can put him on ur lap. I also put on soft music when doing this, because it calms the hamster down and makes them easier to cooperate! I hope this helped! :)

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      im not telling you my name! 5 years ago

      my hamster bites me i let her sniff my hand but she bit it when ever i go near her and she kinda is friendly but not exactly ita been almost two weeks but i guess it takes a while

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      Paige 5 years ago

      I just got my hamster Yesterday. I kept getting her out of the cage unless she was sleeping and chasing her. I feel really bad now. She is a chinease dwarf and bites a lot. Also she doesn't know how to use the water bottle or go up the tubes. She goes along the tubes just not up them. She doesn't even look up. What can i do. I am not getting a new cage tho!!

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      Baziel 5 years ago

      My hamster won't come to me and I dropped it in a hamster ball, and it got a blody nose so do you have advice about how it could like me again? Plz help me, this is the best website for learning about hamsters

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      Mollie Wilcox 5 years ago

      I am going to try picking up my hamsters today thanks

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      Priclla 5 years ago

      My hamsters named pricila =] she is VERY NICE! When i got her they said she doesn't bite they were right! this is the first day and stuff so i don't know for sure shes very playfull and hates her wheel she takes her teeth and scrates it i tried the sunflower seed with her and it works! My solution is that you should put our fist in the cage and allow her to sniff it thanks i hope that helped

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      zippy 5 years ago

      I just got two fancy dwarf hamsters and live in the same cage and they like each other. one of them got lose the first day because he jumped at my when i opened the door to give them food. but my dad caught him and he was making squeaking noises. now i think an experience like that he would be harder to train. Is that true? I also found out sunflower seeds are very fatining so get the plets and give 1 a day per hampster. plus, they like cabbage. that's what the pet store lady said. Plus, alora, i don't know you but i know the answer to your question.

      I keep my hampsters in a room locked away from my cats so they do eat or scare the hampsters. I sujest you keep your hampster in a safe place where your dog can't get to your hampster or put it in a room that you can keep the door shut. Just an idea. :-)

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      alora 5 years ago

      this is useful information i just got a long haired hamster and hes scared of my dogs and cats my one dog eats rodents so what do i do to keep her from hurting him?

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      hhaslam 5 years ago

      I got my hamster for my birthday a little more than a month ago! She is a cute russian hamster named Violet and is coming to her name (finally after you call her name and give her a piece of lettuce every single time) but yet she is so scared of me. I didn't leave her alone for the first day :( i didn't know! oh well but i got a play pin thing and i think its good for her to play. but i scare her when i try to pick her up! i also made the mistake chasing her around and now i know!! hahah if you have advice please post!!

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      patti 5 years ago

      i just got my hampter and my three year old brother was all loud and obnocses i feel bad for her i named her marlow

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      chapa 6 years ago

      i kinda wish my hamster was still scared of me now. i cannot get my hamster to just stay in my hand. :( she quite literally is walking all over me!!! while i was holding her near her cage, she managed to escape my grasp and half-way fell between my dresser (she got stuck in there cause she's a little fatty) i retrieved her anyway and she was fine, but i don't want any more suicidal dives like that. how can i teach my hamster to stay in my hand when i hold it?

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      Sophie 6 years ago

      My hamster don't mind me stroking him but he hates it when i pick him up:(! i tried the tricks and none of em work! he just hisses and squirms away from me, he's a male syrian. HELP!

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      Nico 6 years ago

      Idk what mine is but he's tiny and my friend said he won't get ant bigger? He has like a lot more energy than her syrian, I was chasing him and trying to force friendship I have little brothers too so I'm glad u said something about health when it comes to playing with them too often(: thanks so much

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      lindsey 6 years ago

      i just got a hamster for christmas two days ago i held it once but i almost lost it so after 5 hours i held it again but it bit my mom so i haven't been playing with it for a day but now i know because of this advice now its great

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      jen 6 years ago

      i just got a hamster and it HATES me, but he let me pet him today. nibbles likes me more every day

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      Caroline 6 years ago

      This advice is so helpful! The first hamster that I had (Lynt, passed away a year ago) was never afraid of me. Every time i reached in to get the food bowl, he would climb onto my hand. He only ever bit me once, and it was because he didn't have any water. After that, he never bit me again.

      I'm considering getting a new hamster in the coming weeks, and I am preparing for it to be much less friendly than Lynt, so this advice was wonderful!

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      Tialayh 6 years ago

      i like the advice i did it and now i love my hamsters and they love me

    • onegirlfactory profile image

      onegirlfactory 6 years ago

      Ah, I definitely understand how difficult it can be to get your hamster to trust AND like you! My boyfriend's hamster just had six babies and I'd love to make sure that they're used to human contact. Love this hub, by the way.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      Not all hamsters develop at the same pace.

      Also, be leery of wettail and parasites,

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      itsmefromaplace 6 years ago

      I got 2 russian dwarf hamsters for my birthday. One of them is already very confident, and happy to let me touch her, dispite only having her around 2 days. But the other hamster is very shy, and doesn't exersice when i check that they are OK. I have only seen her eat once, but i guess shes most active in the evening :).

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      Megan 6 years ago

      I have had a hamster, for about 24 hours now. i did make a mistake chasing it only for a few seconds. (i feel bad) but now i know to leave her alone and let her adjust. i know i catch her eating in the middle of the night, but im afraid shes not drinking !! D= im prolly worried for nothing, sense shes not on servalience all hours of the clock... Shes addorible :) Im thinking about calling her Ella.

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      Kim 6 years ago

      I had a hamster who was constantly biting, but I had 3 small children clamoring around the cage to hold him. If I had known better, I'd have stopped waking him up, even at the protests of 3 eager kids (whom I purchased the hamster for to begin with.) The next hamster I got, I only held when he was naturally awake.

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      lyn 6 years ago

      my hamster tries to bite me no matter what

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      anne 6 years ago

      i got my hamster 3 days ago and im trying to make her trust and like me.. :) this info was so helpful. shes so cute!! XO

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      jessica 6 years ago

      i just got a new hamster a few days ago and it always runs away from me so i got a grape and cut it up and then took the hamster into the bathtub and after about 5 minuets of trying to get out it stopped and i gave it a grape and it let me pet it and pick it up

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      kaleigh 6 years ago

      i have a two robo hamsters there super fast and if i try to hold them and to get them to like me they try to run away there so fast i think i might lose them

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      sierra 6 years ago

      i got my hamsters like 3 days ago, and they have had a very hectic time. they have decided not to eat or drink but them decide to sleep and run in there wheel all day, i haven't seen them leave it yet, unless i pull them out to play in the running balls, how can i get them to come out and play?

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      katelyn 6 years ago

      i just got it 4 days ago and hes so cute i love him a lot his name is cookie and hes small and fast he comes into my hand every time i cup my hands and put them in the cage

    • David 470 profile image

      David 470 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Awesome hub! I used to have hamsters when I was younger, but was very young(4 or 5) and did not know how to take care of the first few and a few "incidents" happened that i regret.. The fourth hamster I had lived a long time (years)though, but it escaped somehow.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      She will probably try to explore a little.

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      jerald 6 years ago

      what would if i put him/her in the ground? she will escape? or still playing?

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      dj 6 years ago

      ty so much my mom is going to get me a robo hamster and now i can know that he will like me yay

      p.s. i am going to name him pancake lol

      i like pancakes

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      Aris Baine 6 years ago

      What if my hamster bite me? Do they have rabbies?

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      Laila 6 years ago

      Thanks! i have 10 hamster's 9 of them roborovski very hard to tame them =) whenever i wanna pet them they run away or squeek or bite me =) i give it some treats but they just run away very hard to tame them but my syrian easy to tame

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      hirbod 6 years ago

      it is fantastic that i can read and know how to handle my new hamster thanks!

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