Forming a friendly bond with your new hamster can be a tricky and often delicate task. But even if you’re an inexperienced owner, there are proven things you can do to bond with your pet.
Here are ten steps to help you bond with your hamster:
- Monitor your pet hamster’s behavior.
- Practice holding the hamster.
- Give your hamster time to adjust.
- Socialize with your hamster regularly.
- Provide your hamster with entertaining stimuli.
- Use quality food and bedding.
- Check for signs of illness.
- Keep your hamster active.
- Maintain a clean cage.
- Adjust the cage’s location.
How To Bond With Your Hamster
For the rest of this article, I’ll give you a clearer picture of how to apply each of these steps. All of them are crucial for forming a lasting friendship with your new furry companion.
One of the best ways to create a positive bond with your hamster is to keep a close watch over its behavior and notice any good or bad changes in your pet’s routine.
Attempting to hold or show affection with a hamster when it shows signs of stress or discomfort is generally a bad idea. Instead, it’s a good idea to wait until the hamster is in a better, more receptive mood before displaying physical affection.
Fortunately, hamsters tend to make it obvious when they’re in a bad mood. They will growl, bare or grind their teeth, or lie in a prone position on their back.
When you see one or more of these signs, I recommend that you give your pet space before attempting any close interactions.
On the other hand, there are several signs your hamster will likely display when it’s in a friendly, more pleasant mood. These include playing, lying down in a quiet, relaxed position, or grooming.
If you notice your friend seems to be in a pleasant mood, it’s a good idea to continue through to the next step: holding your hamster!
Holding your hamster is an incredibly effective way of forming a close bond and allowing the animal to trust and even show affection toward you.
That said, there are a few key things to keep in mind that will make holding your pet a smoother, more productive experience for both of you.
First, you’ll want to allow your hamster to become familiar with your hands. You can achieve this familiarity by feeding it treats, softly petting it—if it’s in a good mood!—, and touching your hands against parts of the cage so your pet will recognize the scent.
After your new friend has gotten used to your hands, voice, and smell, you can lay your palm flat and allow it to climb on top of it. If this occurs, simply gently lift the animal and hold it in a cupped position, making sure to note any signs of stress or anger.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not reasonable to expect your new hamster to immediately bond with you, even if that’s what all owners would prefer!
When entering a new, unfamiliar home, hamsters are often confused and disoriented, which can place them in a frightened or guarded state. One crucial tip to follow after you get a hamster is giving your new pet some space on its first day in your home.
Try to avoid physically handling your hamster unless necessary and just let it explore and get its bearings on its new surroundings inside the cage. Of course, you’ll still want to provide it with plenty of food and water, clean and comfortable bedding, and some mental and physical stimulation options—I’ll get to that on.
It’s a good practice to whisper to your hamster from a distance so it can get used to the sound of your voice.
These creatures have notoriously poor eyesight, so they rely heavily on other senses, like smell and hearing. This is also the reason why hamsters might fall off what seems like obvious ledges.
Once your hamster has opened up a bit and gotten used to your voice, scent, and handling, you’ll want to maintain regular, daily physical contact with your pet.
This socialization doesn’t have to involve any elaborate activity. Try gently talking to your hamster while holding or petting it to let it know you’re there. You can also hand-feed your pet to ensure it associates something positive) with you—in this case, feeding.
Building a bond with your hamster can take some time, so don’t get discouraged if there’s not an immediate friendship. Forming a trusting relationship with a pet takes time!
Check, How To Clean Hamster Poop
A quick and effective means of keeping a hamster happy and adjusted to its new home is to add mentally and physically stimulating objects to its cage.
There are several toys you can use to keep your pet sharp. These include exercise wheels, tunnels, and hide boxes.
Below, I’ll show you some popular, well-reviewed products that are virtually guaranteed to maintain your hamster’s mood and mental activity.
Niteangel Silent Hamster Exercise Wheel
Exercise wheels are a familiar toy to provide hamsters with mental stimulation, and this one has a significant advantage: silence.
The Niteangel Silent Hamster Exercise Wheel (available on Amazon.com) allows you to go about your day (or, likely night!) without any bothersome noise while also giving your furry friend as much exercise as their little heart desires.
With thousands of five-star ratings from the United States and several other countries, you have every reason to believe this wheel will deliver positive results.
DOZZOPET Pet Foraging Toy
The DOZZOPET Pet Foraging Toy toy (available on Amazon.com) offers multiple benefits. It allows for your pet to experience an emotionally satisfying foraging experience while also providing the hamster with nutritional treats as a reward for its ingenuity.
Additionally, if you have other small animals in your home, you can move the toy around and let all your pets enjoy it!
GNB Pet Hamster Tunnel and Playground
Traveling through tunnels is a classic hamster pastime, and this tube-based tunnel house (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent interpretation! With a complex—though easily assembled—structure, your pet is sure to receive practically endless entertainment from this fun, stimulating tunnel experience.
However, all the toys and puzzles in the world can’t replace the simplest necessities: good food and a comfortable, clean place to rest and sleep.
Though it’s best to provide a nutritious option for your pet’s regular meals (typically a pellet-based option), there are other tasty treats you can sprinkle in as occasional rewards for positive behavior. These can include seeds and small pieces of vegetables, fruits, and even pasta.
For your hamster’s bedding, the best way to go is with a paper-based option. Paper bedding is ideal for hamsters, as it doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients and won’t cause issues with allergies or irritation.
Additionally, you can use many different colors and styles for your hamster’s paper bedding, so there are countless ways to spice up the aesthetics of the cage.
You may want to experiment with different foods and bedding to see what your pet prefers. There are great guides out there, but it’s crucial to remember that no two hamsters are precisely the same.
A widespread, and often troubling cause for a hamster’s poor mood and lack of bonding is an illness. Though this may be a distressing option to consider for an owner, there are fortunately several clear signs you can look for if you suspect your pet may be sick.
One of the most typical signs of an unwell hamster is lethargy. This sluggishness is a solid signal to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as hamsters typically only display it when they have become quite ill.
Other worrying symptoms include a loss of appetite or lack of drinking, hiding—often a sign of substantial anxiety in the animal—, weight or hair loss, and tumors.
Though any one of these symptoms by itself does not necessarily indicate a severe sickness, multiple warning signs appearing together can be a significant red flag for illness. Remember to monitor your friend closely for any of these symptoms.
On the other hand, one of the most reassuring signs of a healthy and happy hamster is frequent physical activity. Owners stimulating this activity can also do a great deal to prevent the onset of certain illnesses, especially those related to depression or stress.
Suppose you’re curious to know practical ways to keep your pet physically busy and playful. In that case, I’d suggest toys like the ones I described earlier, games, puzzles, and other physical stimuli.
You can create many do-it-yourself toy options if you prefer a more personal approach or deal with a tighter budget.
Popular ideas for hands-on toy construction include using toilet paper rolls or paper towel tubes—these make for great homemade tunnels. Add in some paper towel sheets so your pet can take a shot at making its own little nest. You can also try hiding nutritious snacks under scraps of paper.
Though these toys might not be as elaborate or complicated as the products you’ll find on the market, your little friend is sure to enjoy them just the same.
A simple way to keep your hamster happy and well-bonded to you is to keep its cage clean and sanitary. Unfortunately, in this busy world, well-meaning owners often overlook this step.
However, this is a critical process to ensure your pet hamster remains happy.
For example, one study found hamsters who dwelled in clean, hygienic cages with significant mental and physical stimulation were significantly happier than hamsters who lived in more barren surroundings.
Luckily, cleaning your hamster’s cage is a simple activity that any owner can perform regularly. It entails washing dirty or unsanitary toys and decorations, frequently changing the cage’s bedding, scrubbing out dirty water or food bowls, and emptying the hamster’s house of waste.
Not enjoyable work by any means, but there is a price to pay for enjoying these beautiful animals’ company!
Lastly, a fundamental solution to hamster discomfort that many owners forget to consider is to move the cage to a location your pet seems to enjoy better.
If you’re interested, the Omaha Animal Medical Group offers several reasons for picking the optimal spot in your home for the hamster’s cage.
One primary factor listed is temperature—a cold or sweltering room is likely to discomfort your pet, as these animals generally prefer a room temperature of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (~21 degrees Celsius.)
Another situation where you might consider moving your hamster’s cage to a new spot is if there are loud, frequent noises. These pets typically thrive in quiet, more tranquil environments, so placing the cage away from open windows or other familiar noise pollution sources is often a good idea.
Besides noise, you might also want to avoid windows with direct sunlight. While hamsters can appreciate a certain amount of natural lighting, placing them right in the sun’s path is not recommended.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for forging a close bond with your new pet hamster, there are vital guidelines that almost every owner could benefit from keeping in mind.
Importantly, you should start cautious and work your way up to more affectionate interaction.
These creatures are nervous and easily frightened, especially when settling into a new environment. Overwhelming the hamster with too much stimulation right away will probably be counterproductive.
That said, if you work hard on building a furry friendship, you’re sure to have a close bond with the pet, even if it takes a while!
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- Why Is My Hamster Sleeping So Much?
- What Does Hamster Diarrhea Look Like?
- Why Does My Hamster Poop So Much?
- How Much Should I Feed My Hamster
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more