How To Play With a Hamster [Helpful Guide]

Hamsters are delightful pets that love interacting with their owners in the United States of America. However, you need to be gentle when playing with them because they’re so small.

Here are some ways you can play with a hamster:

  1. Put your hamster in a hamster ball.
  2. Allow your hamster to climb on you.
  3. Set up a hamster playpen.
  4. Train your hamster to perform tricks.
  5. Introduce new toys into the cage.
  6. Create an entertainment cage.
  7. Play hide and seek with snacks.

How to play with my hamster

After reading this article, you’ll have some fun ways of spending quality time and playing with your hamster.

How To Play With a Hamster
How To Play With a Hamster

1. Put Your Hamster in a Hamster Ball

Placing your hamster in an exercise ball is one of the most popular ways of playing with a hamster. This Fediya Hamster Exercise Ball from Amazon.com is made from eco-friendly materials and is transparent so that you can easily check on your hamster’s wellbeing in the ball.

It has the added benefit of allowing your hamster to explore areas outside of the cage in a safe way. It’s advisable to put your hamster in the ball while he’s still in the cage to prevent accidental escape.

Settle down on the floor and place the hamster ball close to you so that you can enjoy your hamster’s company.

Sessions in a hamster ball should typically last between 20 and 30 minutes. This ensures that he gets enough exercise but doesn’t overheat due to a lack of water.

Hamster balls come in various sizes to accommodate your hamster, and you may need to experiment with a few models to determine which one your hamster enjoys the most.

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2. Allow Your Hamster To Climb on You

The simplest way of playing with your hamster is to allow him to climb on you.

If your hamster is new, you may need to give him time to get used to you first before having a long play session together. Start by allowing your hamster to sniff your fingers each time you approach the cage, and then gently hold him for a minute or two.

Your hamster will become used to your scent and will begin to feel more comfortable being handled if you gently stroke him.

After a few weeks, your hamster should be ready for an interactive play session. Gently place him on your arm, remain still, and don’t make any sudden movements while your hamster explores your body.

Your hamster will likely enjoy running up and down your arms, into your sleeves, and over your hair.

Instead of sitting with your hamster, consider lying down so that you can make obstacle courses for him with your arms, legs, feet, and hands. You could also make a tube shape with your hands for your hamster to run through.

A grooming session is another way to have touch-based fun with your hamster. Most hamsters enjoy being groomed as long as the grooming is gentle.

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3. Set Up a Hamster Playpen

Unlike rats or mice, hamsters don’t have long tails, making balancing and climbing difficult for them. Therefore, setting up a tent, such as this Amakunft Small Animals Cage Tent from Amazon.com, is a great way to play with your hamster. It features transparent walls for peace of mind and is a compact, pop-up model.

Hamster playpens are widely available at pet stores and big box stores, and you can place them close to you so that your hamster can have a play session while you’re watching TV or working.

For a change of scenery and to make life fun for your hamster, place his playpen outside on the grass when the weather is pleasant.

An empty hamster playpen will soon become boring, so you need to include some toys. Examples of toys that hamsters enjoy include the following:

  • Seesaw: Running over a seesaw and feeling the platform underneath them falling makes playtime interesting for hamsters.
  • Bridge: Placing a bridge into your hamster’s cage is an excellent idea as it provides a circular running surface and forms a hideout space underneath.
  • Hammock or swing: Serving the double purpose of allowing your hamster to have fun swinging or relaxing while suspended, hammocks and swings make excellent hamster toys.
  • Plastic slide: Hamster slides look like mini water slides and allow your hamster to get to the bottom of the cage after climbing onto a platform.
  • Bell roller: Similar in appearance to a dumbbell, bell rollers are popular hamster toys.

You can buy the above toys from pet stores, big box stores, or online, and you can choose from wood or plastic. Some retailers sell them as a bundle, giving you value for money. These Sofier Natural Wooden Hamster Toys from Amazon.com come in a pack of eight different toys to keep your hamster occupied for hours.

For your hamster’s playpen, try and include toys that he doesn’t already have in the cage.

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If you have limited funds to spend on hamster toys, consider making them yourself or finding natural toys in your backyard. Below are some interesting DIY hamster toy ideas:

  • Different-sized twigs and sticks. Gather a few twigs and sticks from your backyard, suspend them from your hamster’s cage or fashion them into a swing using some non-toxic glue and string.
  • Hollowed out branches or bamboo. Hamsters love crawling through tunnels, and you can make a DIY hamster tunnel with hollowed-out branches or bamboo sticks from your backyard. Consider making them look more colorful with a lick of non-toxic paint.
  • Paper mache hideout or playground. It’s easy to create objects with paper mache. After wetting some paper, mold it into a hideout or elaborate playground with tunnels and hills for your hamster to climb. Let it dry completely before allowing your hamster to use it.
  • Empty toilet roll tunnels. Connect a few used toilet rolls with packaging tape and fill them with grass or hay to make a fun tunnel. Your hamster will love running through it for exercise.
  • Tree bark ramp. If you notice a large piece of tree bark when outdoors, keep it as a textured ramp for your hamster’s cage.
  • Popsicle stick hamster house or obstacle course. Instead of throwing away used popsicle sticks, clean them and collect them. Make a hamster house or obstacle course using non-toxic glue when you have enough. You can also buy inexpensive packs of popsicle sticks from craft stores.
  • Pinecone. Hamsters enjoy rolling around and exploring different textures. Pinecones offer both, allowing your hamster to tumble around and explore the bark-like surface. 
  • Corrugated cardboard igloo. With its many tiny holes, corrugated cardboard makes an exciting material for hamsters as the holes are perfectly-sized for their little feet to explore. Create a cardboard igloo out of some spare corrugated cardboard you have lying around.
  • Matchstick ladder. Most people have matches in their homes, and you can use a few to make a matchstick ladder for your hamster. Use two popsicle sticks for the sides and the matchsticks as rungs.
  • Tissue box hamster house. Stack two or three empty tissue boxes together and secure them with non-toxic glue. After cutting out a few entrances and exits, fill it with hay and small toys, and it will likely keep your hamster occupied for ages.

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4. Train Your Hamster To Perform Tricks

Hamsters are intelligent animals with the ability to learn tricks surprisingly quickly.

Teaching your hamster to perform tricks is an exciting way to play and spend quality time with him.

Once your hamster is used to being handled, you can teach him to perform tricks. With your hamster in his cage, use healthy hamster treats to encourage him to perform tricks like standing, jumping, and rolling over.

Holding the treat in your hand so that your hamster can see it but not reach it, tell him to stand and praise him when he performs the movement.

Your hamster will soon learn that he gets rewarded with a snack when he performs the movement, and, over time, he’ll be able to perform the trick without a treat.

To keep your hamster motivated to perform tricks, continue rewarding him with a snack now and then.

Once your hamster has mastered the “stand” command, you can teach him a new trick. Although hamsters cannot jump very high or far, they will jump a little if offered a treat.

By positioning the treat so that your hamster needs to perform a small jump, you can teach him a new trick.

If you notice that your hamster isn’t interested in standing or jumping for the treat, don’t force him and try another day again as he may be tired.

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5. Introduce New Toys Into the Cage

Hamsters enjoy playing with toys but can become bored with them after a long period.

For regular play sessions with your hamster, remove one of the older toys and replace it with a new one.

Gently encourage your hamster to play with the new toy and interact with him by using your fingers as an obstacle or slowly pushing him on a swing.

You could also interact with your hamster for a play session in the cage by introducing interesting objects and allowing him to sniff or explore the object.

Examples of interactive objects include:

  • Feathers
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sandpaper
  • Rope
  • Small tubs of sand

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6. Create an Entertainment Cage

An excellent alternative to a hamster playpen is investing in a second cage for your hamster for entertainment purposes.

Fill the new cage with toys that your hamster doesn’t typically play with while in his regular cage so that he can enjoy an exciting play session.

To make things even more exciting for your hamster, place the entertainment cage outdoors or in another room.

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7. Play Hide and Seek With Snacks

A fun game to play with your hamster is snack hide and seek. This involves placing a few healthy hamster snacks in the hay, toys, and hideouts in the cage.

Your hamster will soon smell the snacks and will begin looking for them. Once he has found the snacks, consider another round but monitor his snack consumption as eating too much food can cause health problems.

Examples of healthy hamster snacks include:

  • Fruit: Hamsters particularly love strawberries, pears, and bananas.
  • Raw vegetables: Broccoli, artichokes, bell peppers, and carrot tops make popular hamster snacks.
  • Sunflower seeds: Hamsters love nibbling on a few sunflower seeds and holding them in their tiny hands.
  • Prepackaged hamster snacks: Alternatively, you could buy ready-made treats from your local pet store. You could also buy this Vitakraft Crunch Sticks Hamster Treat (available on Amazon.com) that has a natural wood center to promote sound hamster dental health.

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Final Thoughts

Playing with your hamster is a wonderful way to spend quality time with him, but you need to ensure that your hamster is safe and having fun, too.

Exciting ways of playing with your hamster include:

  • Allowing him to run over your body.
  • Placing him in a hamster ball, entertainment cage, or playpen.
  • Teaching him tricks.
  • Playing hide and seek with snacks.