Getting a hamster can be an exciting experience, especially if you have wanted one for a long time. Unfortunately, the first hamster cuddle can be scary for some first-time hamster parents, especially if you’re scared of being bitten or hurting the tiny furball.
Here is how to pick up a hamster when you’re scared:
- Let your hamster adjust to the new environment.
- Let your hamster get familiar with your presence.
- Put your hand in your hamster’s cage a few times a day.
- Wash your hands before you pick up your hamster.
- Ensure that the room is quiet.
- Put on gloves.
- Have the hamster come to you.
- Pick up your hamster.
- Prevent your hamster from jumping off.
- Help your hamster associate you with a good time.
- Keep your hamster close to your body.
- Talk in a soft voice.
- Discipline them by blowing in their faces.
- Give your hamster breaks between sessions.
- Put your hamster back in its cage.
You can kickstart the rewarding journey as a hamster parent by applying the above methods. In the rest of this article, I will discuss each tip in-depth and look into some common questions about handling hamsters.
1. Let Your Hamster Adjust to the New Environment
Hamsters tend to be very sensitive toward change, and going from a pet shop to a new home is scary enough. The new and unfamiliar environment can trigger survival instincts, which increases the chances of bites should you pick your hamster up before they fully acclimate.
Experts recommend allowing your hamster to adjust to the environment for about 2-3 days. This period will give them time to settle into their new surroundings and get comfortable with you being around them.
Letting hamsters settle and acclimate to the new environment means minimal handling. If your adorable furball has a lot of anxiety, you can also cover the cage with some thin cloth.
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2. Let Your Hamster Get Familiar With Your Presence
Your hamster will need to get used to you being around. In the beginning, your hamster might act defensively or hide away due to a lack of trust. By familiarizing your hamster with your presence, you can make it feel more comfortable.
An excellent way to tame your hamster is to get it accustomed to its scent. Each time you enter the room during the first three days, hold your hand outside the cage until your curious hamster comes to investigate.
Repeating this several times a day can help your hamster settle faster and speed up the taming process. After a few days (or weeks) of repeated visits, your hamster will be increasingly comfortable around you.
3. Put Your Hand in Your Hamsters Cage a Few Times a Day
After your hamster has adjusted to its new home, you can now start interacting with it. One thing to keep in mind is that slow and steady wins the race! Introducing physical contact to your hamster is gradual and should not be rushed.
You can lay your hand in the cage one to three times a day and let your hamster explore and investigate.
If your hamster is a bit more nervous, you can place some food in the palm of your hand. Your hamster will associate this activity with good experiences and get more comfortable with you.
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4. Wash Your Hands Before You Pick Up Your Hamster
Washing your hands after handling any animal is essential, for it prevents the transmission of certain diseases and bacteria. But did you know that your hamster can also get sick from the germs on your hands?
Always wash your hands before and after you handle your hamster. This step can prevent the cross-contamination of Salmonella and other diseases and keep both you and your hamster safe.
Washing your hands also eliminates the smell of any food you might have eaten before. The scent of food on your hands can confuse your hamster and tempt them to take a bite!
5. Ensure That the Room Is Quiet
Hamsters are naturally nervous creatures and get easily startled by loud noises. We as pet owners always need to consider that our pets differ from us, and everyday occurrences can affect them significantly.
When handling your hamster, make sure that you are in a quiet room.
Excess noise can startle your hamster and cause a fight or flight reaction due to anxiety. You can easily block unwanted noise by closing the door and windows and dimming the lights. This setup will create a calm environment for you and your hamster to bond.
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6. Put On Gloves
For first-time hamster owners, picking up your small pet can be terrifying! Hamsters are highly popular in Arkansas, Delaware, and Georgia, but surprisingly many hamster owners across the USA fear being bitten or scratched by their pet.
To settle your mind and protect yourself from being bitten, you can wear a pair of material, disposable, or leather gloves. Generally, any type of glove can be used and is only there to help until you and your hamster settle with each other.
This method should help you feel more confident when handling your new furry buddy since your hamster will be calm and confident when you are calm and confident.
7. Have the Hamster Come to You
Picking up your hamster the correct way is highly crucial! Hamsters have tiny bodies and can get harmed relatively quickly. Following recommended guidelines on picking up your hamster the right way can help you and your hamster.
Gently and slowly put your hand in the cage while your hamster is awake! If you rouse your hamster by suddenly putting your hand in the cage, it will frighten them and increase the chances of a negative reaction.
It would be best to leave your hand in the cage, palm facing down, for a little while so your hamster can get used to your presence.
As a rule, you should never grab your hamster from its cage, for it can frighten or threaten them, leading to you getting bitten.
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8. Pick Up Your Hamster
Finally, the moment has come where you can finally pick up your hamster. The first time picking up a hamster is always the scariest, but I can assure you that it is temporary. Once you and your hamster get to know each other, it is all smooth sailing.
Once your hamster has adjusted to your presence, you can slowly turn your palm facing up and wait for your hamster to crawl to you. If your hamster is reluctant to go to your hand, you can lure your hamster with a snack.
This process generally gets easier the more you do it, and your hamster also gets more comfortable with you being around. If your hamster does not want to come to you, you can gently (and slowly) try to scoop it up from the bedding. You can also scoop up some bedding to make your hamster more comfortable.
Scooping up your hamster with the bedding will give you and your hamster a little barrier. This technique can help your hamster feel more grounded and calm.
9. Prevent Your Hamster From Jumping Off
Now that your hamster is in the palm of your hand, you should keep your hand inside the cage for the first few times. Because this is a new experience for your hamster, they might try to jump out of your hand.
Once your hamster is used to getting picked up, you can slowly move it away from the cage and gently hold your other hand on top to prevent them from jumping.
Experts recommend keeping your hamster as close to the ground as possible, and this can prevent them from falling a long distance, should they decide to jump.
Hamsters are expert squirmers, and even the most trained vets struggle to prevent the little escape artists from jumping.
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10. Help Your Hamster Associate You With a Good Time
Like other pets, hamsters learn behavior with repetition. Your hamster will get into a routine by scheduling playtime at a specific time each day.
While handling your hamster, you want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible, and what do hamsters adore? Food! You can create a habit of giving your hamster treats (healthy) and fruits to help them associate you with good times. This can help ease anxiety and significantly smoothen the taming process.
11. Keep Your Hamster Close to Your Body
You can start getting closer to your beloved hamster after you’ve allowed it to get used to being picked up regularly. Nothing is better than a good cuddle, and it withholds many benefits.
Whenever you pick up your hamster, it is best to move slowly and keep it close to your body to feel safe and secure. This will also give you more control over its overall positioning while allowing your body to act as a wall so your hamster can’t jump off.
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12. Talk in a Soft Voice
Hamsters have very heightened senses, including their hearing. As such, loud noises or even laughter can startle your hamster, resulting in bites and scratches as a form of self-defense. This explains why you should always keep things calm when approaching your tiny furry friend.
Try to talk in a calm and soft-toned voice when handling your hamster. Talking to your hamster will ensure it gets familiar with your voice, which will make it increasingly comfortable when being held.
It is vital to stay calm while handling your hamster, as these tiny pets can quickly sense fear and anxiety from humans.
13. Discipline Them by Blowing in Their Faces
Hamsters are intelligent animals and can learn new behaviors fairly quickly. Hamsters that tend to bite are not pleasant to have as a pet. Luckily, you can help them abandon the nasty habit of biting by enforcing some violence-free discipline.
Whenever your hamster attempts to bite you, you can quickly blow on their face.
The sudden gust of wind will stop your hamster in its tracks. Your hamster is intelligent and will soon learn to associate biting with bad behavior.
After a few discipline sessions, your hamster will ditch the biting, and you will have a sweet bite-free fur tiny companion to love and hold.
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14. Give Your Hamster Breaks Between Sessions
Owners should not hold hamsters for extended periods. It is best to hold them for only a few minutes and then put them back to rest and reset their little brains for the first few times. Remember that this new experience can be tiring for your hamster, and they need their rest as well.
You can repeat this process 2-3 times a day until your hamster associates your hand with being picked up and comes to you independently. Before you know it, your hamster will be up and ready for playtime each time you walk into the room.
15. Put Your Hamster Back in Its Cage
Once the time has come to put your hamster back in its cage, the correct tactics can help prevent your hamster from jumping before he is in the cage.
And since falling long distances can be harmful to your hamster, you need to take preventative steps to ensure its safe return to the cage.
To put your hamster back in its cage, slowly move towards the cage’s opening and keep your other hand steady on top (so your hamster does not jump off).
Be sure not to squeeze or restrict any movement of the hamster, for this can make it feel claustrophobic and cause anxiety and panic, which leads to biting.
Once your hand is in the cage, you can slowly put your hamster down and gently move your hand out of the cage.
Picking up your hamster for the first time does not have to be a traumatizing experience.
As long as you consider your pet’s reactions and how your actions affect them, you can easily pick up your hamster, even if you are scared. Remember that confidence, patience, and a dash of bravery can benefit you and your hamster.
By following these easily applicable tips and tricks, you will be best friends with your hamster in no time.
You may like the following hamster’s articles:
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- How To Travel With a Hamster
- Can Hamsters Eat Guinea Pig Food?
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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