Whitney is a hamster parent and has raised a variety of species.
Yes, Your Hamster Can Be Trained
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. In this way, they are sort of like people: It's easier to train a child to clean up his mess than to try to train 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 they 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, the first thing to do is 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.
Reduce Stress on the Way Home
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.)
Wait at Least Three Days
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
The first and probably the 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 to bite.
Once you understand to just let your hamster sleep, handling can be a cinch. Just remember to be patient. It may take time.
When to Try
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 the hamster is eating, stretching, grooming, or just hanging out, give it a try then.
When to Stop
If you try to hold your hamster and he starts to growl, squeak, grind his teeth, or show his incisors, leave him alone!
Tips for Handling a Hamster
- Don't Rush: Once the 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 Him Sniff: 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—if you smell like food, your hamster may try to nip you.
- Don't Chase: 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.
- Make It Quick: Keep each interaction short.
- Offer Treats: 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.
- Pet Him When He's Distracted: 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 that you're petting him.
- Cup Your Hands to Move 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.
- Stay Low: 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Daisy on August 09, 2020:
Hi! I just got my hamster yesterday. I’ve been talking to him and leaving him to rest. Today I tried to pick him up but he urinated on me. He jumped and fell to the ground. So I put him back. I’m not sure if I should leave him or try again tonight. He isn’t interested in food or treats so I’m not sure whether to just pick him up or to try with food. Please help!
Dude. on August 07, 2020:
I have 2 hamsters one is 1 yr and 4 months old the other is 2 months old should I train the 2 month old or the yr and 4 months old? (I think the older one hates me.)
goose on July 31, 2020:
hi my hamster will bite me when i first got him now hes used to me
Randy Jim mobile my girl on on July 10, 2020:
My hamster always disturb me when I touch him and turns turns into a not good hamster
_____________ on June 29, 2020:
none of the hamster webpages I have come arrows tell me the first step of hand training a hamster. can u help?
XXXXXXXX on June 16, 2020:
I got my dwarf hamster 4 days ago, but started to pet and and hold him early. He was fine with it at first but now whenever i put my hand in the cage, even if its just to change his food or water, he comes out and tries grab my my hand to bite it. What should i do
kaitlyn on May 18, 2020:
i have a hamster bumbles im a new hamster owner but he is tamed but he wont come to my hands even when i put a treat on my palm but when he in his ball and i get him out onto my hand hes fine he stays on my hand for a second then either walks of or tries to jump of a little i don t get it can anybody help me out please.
Careful Hamster Owner on May 03, 2020:
Hi! I'm a new hamster owner, like most of you :) Before I got my precious Daisy, I did a bunch of research. These tips are certainly going to help you and your fur-baby. About treats though: The training process is veeeeery long, and if your treats are sweet (like yogurt drops, apple bits, grape, etc.) your hamster can get diabetes. Hamsters are very prone to diabetes, so you should be careful! If you want to treat them, give them things like sunflower seeds, little bits of celery, cucumber and other vegetables. Please note that not all fruits and veggies are good for hamsters. PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE FEEDING YOUR HAMSTER ANYTHING YOU AREN'T SURE ABOUT! I know for sure that you should never feed your hamster oranges, lemon, lime or any citrus fruits. It gives them diarrhea and makes them ill. No beans or potatoes, no onions, garlic or almonds, no avocados and peppers or any kind of junk foods! I'm sure there's more, so make sure it's safe before feeding them. Also, if you have a dwarf hamster, don't be upset if it takes a while. Daisy is a chinese dwarf. She's gotten pretty used to me these past 6 days I've had her. It may take more or less longer to get your little buddy to trust you. Don't give up though!
Jasmyn on April 22, 2020:
Oh my god my hamster has Changed so much Since I’ve been doing these sufts
Max on April 05, 2020:
My hamster is making a sound that I do not know. What should I do?(: :)
New hamster Max on April 05, 2020:
My hamster Max is letting me hold him but he jumps out, I’ve been reading him story’s so he will get used to my voice but I believe that this will work
wayne on March 16, 2020:
i love my hamster
whelp on February 08, 2020:
I only left 24 hours for my hamster to settle in then started feeding him by hand ! he didn't bite so this isn't with all hamsters ! I also held him in the middle of the day, he was fine!
hi on February 02, 2020:
my friends hampster woon't stop bitting people HARD!!! what should i do to help
Xin Xin on January 22, 2020:
I feel that my hamsters don’t like me now because I keep on chasing them and forcing them on my hand but now I know I’m wrong. I try to follow what you said but they still don’t trust me or like me! They won’t even climb on my hand now! Help me please!
my hamster is physcotic on January 15, 2020:
it was feeding him and he bit me and ran out and then i chased him and my dogs started barking and legit they scard the LEGIT LEGIt shit out of him. everywhere]. so much. sady the 14 day return period at petsmart is over
my hamster name is fluff nugget don't ask on January 08, 2020:
today she ran under my brothers dresser and we HAD TO CHASE HER SHE WOULDENT COME TO US and I just got her 4 days ago
sarah on January 06, 2020:
bullshit i held my hamster the minute i got it and it’s fine
cody londrigan on January 02, 2020:
i just got a fancy bear hamster and i will let me pet it sometimes but then sometimes it will raise a paw up and turn at me and it won't come close to me at all it will smell me then go away
meow cat kitty hamster on December 18, 2019:
chUbbYtOtoRo on December 11, 2019:
Does anyone know how to get over the fear of your hamster biting you without the method of using gloves? Please help, thank you
; on November 11, 2019:
welp, my sister chased my hamster around it's cage (sheneverlistenssob) so if she did that, would it also make him lose trust in me?
New hamster person on November 11, 2019:
so i got a dwarf hamster today and it practically stays i . its food bowl the whole time. what should i do?
Hamster Handler on October 12, 2019:
When you get your hamster the first 4 days DO NOT TOUCH OR MESS WITH IT. You have to let your hamster get used to it’s “ environment” and home so let it be. After those four days begin slowly by letting you hamster sniff you. Your hamster will eventually get used to you for the 2 days. Then start to open the cage and let your hamster crawl out then you can hold him. Hold him for about 20 minutes a day. Hamsters are nocturnal so do not mess with them in the morning and evening or it will bite. At night they will be active and that’s when you can hold it. That’s pretty much all and your hamster will get used to you in the next 2 weeks to a Month.
peachyhamlet on July 31, 2019:
my hamster loves to bite me gerbil what should i do
Animal Advocate on July 08, 2019:
The first part
Bitey ham on June 01, 2019:
Your hamster could be angry scared or shoked.
hamsterham on May 15, 2019:
Hi! My hamster is very young, I have had him for about a week and he is nice to me. His name is Teddy, and I have a scar from where he bit me the first time (he was big). If you can't get your hamster to come to you hand, you don't have treats, or treats don't work. You can trick him. Get a small box or platform, cover your platform with a small towel, and let him climb on. Use food or seeds to help you. Let him eat. Stroke where he likes it best. Let him climb back into his cage. Do this a few times. After you have done it a few times, place the towel on your hands with food/seed and let him climb back on. let him eat. Make sure to be close to the floor. Move your hands around a little. Keep it up!
Luna on April 29, 2019:
I think this might work because he keeps running into his hamster tubes ALL THE TIME I try to hold him and treat thing work tho so maybe the other parts of this article will :D
My hamster doesn't like me on April 14, 2019:
I put the treat in my hand, but he just looks at it and walks away.
I accidently handeled my hamster early on April 04, 2019:
What do I do if I handle my hamsters too early and they just are in their hiding spot all day and they never come out?
Emma Sayles on March 25, 2019:
If your hamster won’t come out then what would you do?
My hamsters on March 23, 2019:
So if your hamster is very mean to you then you hand feed him/her hand feed. Also, let your hamster rest so don’t wake your hamster and hold it. Okay so my hamsters are very sweet and one I got almost a year and her name is Juliet and then, I got one from pet I two days ago and it is a fire fly hamster and he guy said the manager said it’s is and it said it was dwarf so I got it for 11.99 and I named him Odis or Odie and odison when he does something wrong. And now I am doing lots to have him be nice so good luck with yours!
Ineedhelp on March 18, 2019:
How long does it take for the Hamster to stop biting
XXVnyx on March 13, 2019:
i am a new owner of a Russian dwarf hamster, well this is technically my second... when i got my first one i got overwhelmed with excitement i couldn't wait to hold him but when i did he jumped. i caught him but it was too late he froze and died a few minutes later. while i was in tears my mother went and got me a new one but now im petrified to hold him in fear it may happen again but im scared that because of this it will effect him in entertainment and he will be bored or he won't be as connected to me. can anyone help?
notcah bisniss on March 11, 2019:
hi yo yo yo
Mariah on March 05, 2019:
I have a two month old male robo hammy called Dorrit. She is adorable, but the training process certainly is sloooooow!!
Cynthia on March 04, 2019:
I got two hamsters and one of them is name lucky and the other one is cuby and cuby don’t let you touch him they are bothe males
M on February 12, 2019:
My hampsters name is big chungus
Aiden on February 08, 2019:
I’m getting to hamsters from Petland today. I hope it goes well!
Isabel on January 28, 2019:
I’ve had my hamster for 3 months. But he hates me. I have hade hamsters before and they all loved me. This one bites and scratches. Your advise is starting to work. Thanks
Dani on January 24, 2019:
My hamster let me pet him on the first day, on the second day he at a treat from my hand and stood on my hand, but he won't let me pick him up, I'm kinda sad :(
sugar on January 22, 2019:
my old hammie was so sweet but my new one is okay and ive held her 2 and her name is sugar cookie
Jazmin on January 14, 2019:
I’ve have my robo dwarf hamster for 4 months and she won’t let me hold her if I put my hand in the cage to refill the water she will hide.If I try to hold her she will jump off my hands (like 1 inch off the floor) and run and sometimes bite me.Even if I enter the room and she is eating she will go in her house and hide until I stop moving or sit/ lay on my bed or anywhere.This one time when I first got her she somehow got out of her cage and at this time she was in the living room bc that was the day i brought her home and I set up her cage in the living room,anyways
Azairya on January 03, 2019:
I don't know why but all pets love me.
Kamryn on November 23, 2018:
I dont have treats so idk how else to get a hamster to like you
Nina on November 06, 2018:
I have a robo dwarf hamster and shes super skiddy and super fast and will not let me pick her up. I have had her for about a month. I need to clean her cage what do I do?
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Mackenzie on October 03, 2018:
I have 2 hamsters and one of them is so scared of me what do I do
Kyra on September 29, 2018:
Please can u tell me where can I get a hamster in cheap rate and a one which is trained nicely and will not bite
Gg on September 23, 2018:
Hi my hamster won’t let me hold them they will jump out of my hands and try to escape. Please help
just a normal hamster owner (AZ) on September 14, 2018:
I had my hamster for about a little less than a year now. My hamster is so hard to train! I try to put a treat in the middle of my hand, and he doesn't go on my hand. He only takes treats that are at the front of my hand. I'm starting to think that he doesn't know where the treats are, because he puts his front paws/hands to grab treats on my hand. Plz help!
elthea on September 13, 2018:
hello i have had my hamster for about 11 months and he still doesnt let me hold him. he is very aggressive and bites everything he sees including my hand. i dont know what do to. he also likes biting people, i dont know whether its because we feed him through the railing or something but when i put my hand in he just runs to me and tries holding my hand to bite me. hep.
Doris on August 19, 2018:
I’ve had my hamster for 3 months and she won’t let me hold her
Mandy on August 11, 2018:
Cookie is my robo dwarf hamster he is trained as far as I know but sometimes when I handle him he squeaks or all of a sudden he starts to bite at one point it even got as bad as the result of me bleeding. Does the aggression and squeaking of my hamster mean anything?
Oreo on August 11, 2018:
I just got a new hamster after my really sweet one just died. the hamster is really aggressive and different from my old one. I would really like to let the hamster get close to me after it adjusts to the new environment but I'm kind of wondering if all this actually works and creates a bond? (Or at least something similar?)
Vickie on July 22, 2018:
I would like to add Sniffles and Scamp to the Hamster Male names.
Hamster lover on July 15, 2018:
Hi my hamster has been with me for three months and I keep trying to let her try and sleep in a large cadge and she runs straight for my hands and want her medium size cadge but she’s so adventurous I don’t understand please help
Hamster name flash on July 05, 2018:
Hello my hamster is 2 years old he is a robo dwarf hamster he has recently but me and he has been sleeping a lot what do I do thanks
maria on July 03, 2018:
I have a male hamster that is about nine moths old that is living with me almost all his life and I just got a new baby also a male hamster that is 4 weeks old.
I am wondering if its possible them to live in the same cage?
I know that usually hamsters dont live together.. but is there something that I could do so they will live together with no problem? there is no problem for me to buy a big cage, but what to do??? help please :)
How ir on June 22, 2018:
Wow this worked except he is really active
Small-Pet-Kingdom on June 09, 2018:
YESS!! This is great! I think this is a SUPER important topic especially for ALL new hammy owners!
Demi hamstergirl on May 27, 2018:
I got my dwarf hamster on the 24th may 2018.
Every time I go to pick her up she runs way or nipps me .
I cant even transfer her to somewhere else as I cant pick her up what do I do. I feel like she doesn't like me .
By the way her name is Bebe
WHAT DO I DO
Erin on April 17, 2018:
I got my hamster Rioh today at about 6pm it is now 9.30pm and he is great he has already climbed up on the bars of his cage flung himself across his cage gone on his wheel looks at me when I say his name (Rioh) eaten half his food and popped
Charleene Dennis on April 16, 2018:
This is a nice way. I Got my hamster 5 days ago and this helped an awful lot!
I have a hamster lol Ik you don’t care on April 11, 2018:
If your hamster is a Bitey hamster then I recommend using a sock if your really scared use a couple socks this is what I did and now I hold my hamster whenever I want to.
Hamster handler on April 01, 2018:
no its best to not hold your hamster in his cage as he is much more likely to jump
Hamster lover on March 24, 2018:
I just got my robo dwarf hamster 4 days ago but she keeps trying to escape and scratch the glass (I have her in a tank). What do I do?
Hamhams rock on March 19, 2018:
I have had my hamster for a month and he has never peed outside of his cage. The past 4 days I have been trying to hold him with cupped hands so he will relax and fall asleep, but all 4 days he has peed on me which he never did before. Is something wrong?
HammyLover on March 06, 2018:
could you also hold them low to the ground while in the cage? (if the cage is big enough)
Em on February 26, 2018:
I got my hamster 4 days ago, and its is a dwarf. It tries to bite me when I put him in his ball. I've tried to hold him before but he'll either run away or bite me. What are some good ways to train him mot to bite? And how old is too old to train him?
Alecia carr on February 24, 2018:
Hello my is Alecia Carr I have a 4 mouth old hamster is it to early to train him to do stuff? He is loving his home but when can I take I find out?
Ana on February 14, 2018:
Thank you Pet smart
sofia on February 05, 2018:
My friends hamster was good to her .It will climb on her and kiss her .But mine did not.When I put on my hand ,It will smell my hand and run away . I tried this many times ,but It does not work. I tried to carry it too but nothing improvement. What should I do . Hope I will get some help.
Alina on January 27, 2018:
I did it but it DID NOT WORK!
Emma on January 14, 2018:
My hamster is always hiding. What do I do?
Jean on January 11, 2018:
If the hamster bites you, blow on it. Negative reinforcement, like training any animal. It takes some time, but they learn not to bite.
Shivangi on January 05, 2018:
My hamster came home a little while back. I can touch him sometimes but he does turn around and try to bite me. I started wearing gloves to help me but he just grabs the glove and bites it. I can only give treats through the bars of the cage but when I place my hand flat with treats on them, my hamster bites my fingers so I let go of the treats, then takes them. I really don't know what to do. The pet store guy told me he was 3 months old. Is that too old? Also, when I used a cup to transport my hamster onto the ground, he started biting my legs and hands. Any advice????
Ansley on January 04, 2018:
I tried to leave my hamster alone for a few days like this post said, and I did. I still can't pick her up yet and it's been 7-9 days. Also, my best friend has Robo Dwarf Hamsters and has had them for almost 6 MONTHS and still can't pick her's up.
Bella hill on January 04, 2018:
I got a Russian hamster and when I try to pick it up or play with her she nipped me so now I'm kinda scared and how can I take her traveling by putting her in a travel cage if she won't let me pick her up by the way her name is pixie
lainey on December 26, 2017:
To the person with the roborvoski dwarf hamster, is your name Amelia?
Jasmine on December 26, 2017:
I just got a hamster help me even more take care of it. But great
Robo dwarfs are adorable on December 26, 2017:
I just got a cute baby Roborvoski dwarf hamster and her name is snowflake. But the problem is that my brother sneaks in my room and abused my baby Roborvoski dwarf hamster and she’s not drinking water after that event. What should I do?
Buddy the hamster on December 23, 2017:
My hamster runs from me in the cage. What do I do??? I also tried this method and it didn't work:(
A on December 21, 2017:
Hi, I tried this but it didn’t work. When I placed a piece of food in my hand, the hamster bit my hand because it thought that my hand was the food! How do I fix this?
hamster pro 321 on December 18, 2017:
HELP!!!!! My hamster is biting my nails and it hurts really bad!!!!!!!!!!
Hamster lover on November 18, 2017:
Helpful! I just got my Syrian hamster today, and he is a sweetheart. As i was told, pine and cedar bedding are not safe, ad pine has dangerous flakes and cedar is heavily scented. I was also told they don't grow much and you should not switch their diet to seeds, as they will never go back to their old diet. The lady said that the little circle pellets are best for them, and timothy hay is good once or twice a month. Is this true? Thanks!!!
Hammy the hamster on November 05, 2017:
Almost everytime i stroke her, she bites me. Im gonna trie and handle her next week (wich is the second week at my home). Do you think it will work? I dont want her to bite me.
Julia on November 05, 2017:
Very good I think it is valuable information
Katelynn Roy on October 29, 2017:
I have a robo dwarf hamster. I have had him for about a year, and I just read this. I have been doing it all wrong. Will I still be able to tame him?
Anonymous on October 20, 2017:
None of it worked I have a robo dwarf hamster and he doesn't even let me pet him
Shadow on October 11, 2017:
I recently got my hamster and he escaped the cage when we took him out the cage and we have cats so i had to catch him and keep him in the box till my dad could fix the cage but it's been awhile. do you think he'll still be able to be tamed
Ollie on September 21, 2017:
I have had a robo dwarf hamster for 5 weeks now and she is still to fast to hold. It is impossible to catch her. Is there any tips I should know
A know-it-all and guilty on September 09, 2017:
I just got a hamster today and I was all up in his cage I even tried to pet him. I know that I wasn't supposed to though, but it's just sooo hard to not try to hold/pet him. How can you not bother him for 3 whole days and should I not pet him till Tuesday (it's Saturday) what can I do to help I feel so guilty and sorry.
Ps his name is Cheeks and he seemed pretty comfortable with me at the pet store.
John on August 24, 2017:
Sarah shes probably scared she isn't used to their scent try having them sleep over for a couple nights so she can get used to their voices and scent
#StarWarsLover6292 on August 18, 2017:
I have a Syrian short haired hamster and he has red eyes. I have had him for 5 days and he got settled in but he doesn't let me hold him. It feels IMPOSSIBLE to hold him. I need help.
Janet white on August 03, 2017:
I started to hold my hamster early. And now he does not trust me. Is it too late? What do i do?
genevieve on August 02, 2017:
I was holding our hamster Randy, that we have had for a few months now (so he is fully tame). He is used to allot of human contact, well my boyfriend gently touched him on his back. He jumped, hit my chest, and fell into my hands. We thought he was fine, but he froze and would not move for a strait 30 seconds. Should we be worried?
Name on August 02, 2017:
My hamster is too fast
No name please on July 23, 2017:
I got a new hamster yesterday. What do I do with him?
Hazilee on July 20, 2017:
Hi I have a dwarf hamster and it is about a month now that I have him. He doesn't like to held at all and keeps on running through my fingers when I try to hold it.
He also hoards all of his food and I don't know if he is eating. He really enjoys Peanutbutter which I give him a small bit of everyday. Does anyone have tips on how I can tame him.