Handling Hamsters

Most hamsters can become tame in a very short space of time with gentle regular handling. Hamsters normally only bite because they are frightened.

If the hamster is a bit jumpy or nervous it is a good idea first of all just to get it used to your hand before attempting to lift it out of its cage. Try gently stroking the hamster while it is in its cage and offering it pieces of food from your hand. It will soon realise that it has nothing to fear.

Next try placing your hand in the cage and letting the hamster investigate, and step onto your hand, whilst keeping your hand still.

Once it is happy that there is nothing to fear, take off the top of the cage if possible or open the door of the cage, and gently scoop the hamster up in both hands. Do not hold it too tightly or squeeze it as this may frighten it.

Don’t lift your hamster too high as if it jumps from your hands and falls it may injure itself. It is always best to handle your hamster whilst you are sitting down so that if it does jump it does not have far to fall and will simply land in your lap.

Once you have taken your hamster out of the cage, and are sitting, face the hamster towards you - they seem less inclined to jump if facing towards you. Let the hamster walk from one hand to the other. If your hamster does attempt to jump, let it and then simply pick it up again. It is better to do this than try and hold onto the hamster which may cause it to become frightened. Once it is happy to step from one hand to another, gently start to curve your fingers around it’s body so that it can begin to get the feel of being held.

Before long your hamster should be happy to walk from one hand to another with your fingers wrapped around its body and you can then start facing it away from you whilst you are sitting down and letting it walk again from one hand to another.

Some hamsters are more nervous than others and may take a little longer to become accustomed to being handled. Be patient and gentle and your hamster should become very tame.

If your hamster is really frightened or has had a bad experience being handled and bites whenever handled, try handling it whilst you wear a pair of gloves and handle it as indicated above. The wearing of gloves will help your confidence which in turn will help the hamster. Once the hamster stops biting you can move to handling the hamster without gloves.

Don’t handle your hamster directly after you have been handling food. Hamsters have extremely poor eyesight and rely on their sense of smell - if you’ve just been eating an apple, the hamster will smell this on your hand and think that your hand is an apple and may have a nibble!

Syrian Hamsters are quite easy to handle because of their larger size. Russian hamsters tend to be a little more lively and are not quite so easily handled by small children. The Chinese Hamster is often a delight to handle as they just sit on your hand and use their paws to cling to your fingers - it is often difficult to remove a Chinese from your hand! Another point worth noting about Chinese is that if they are nervous they have a habit of emptying their bladder on your hand! Roborovskis are extremely lively and fast and therefore not a pet that is easily handled. They need to be cupped in your hand to avoid them running away, but they very rarely bite.

Younger children should be supervised when handling hamsters as they may unintentionally squeeze a hamster, causing it to nip or injuring it.