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APPROACHING YOUR HAMSTER-

Wash your hands before handling your hamster. Hamsters rely on their noses to navigate their worlds, and strong smells can cause them distress. Washing your hands before handling your hamster will help your hamster feel more comfortable. Use an unscented or very lightly scented soap, and rinse it off your hands thoroughly. Dry your hands, since hamsters don't like to get wet.

  • This is especially important if you have more than one hamster, or if you have other pets in the house. Hamsters are territorial. If your hamster smells another animal on your hands, he may become agitated.

Give your hamster time to get used to you. If you just brought your hamster home, chances are he needs a little time to get used to you before he'll enjoy being handled and held. Instead of just grabbing your hamster, crouch near the cage speak in a soft, friendly voice. Make sure your hamster can see you and that he knows you're a friend, not a predator.

  • Speak softly to your hamster every day for a few days before you attempt to pick him up.
  • Open the cage and see if he comes to you willingly; some hamsters are ready to be picked up right away, while others need more time to get acquainted.

Let your hamster investigate your hand. Once your hamster seems comfortable with your voice, place your hand near him. You can offer a seed or small hamster treat to entice him to come near. Don't make any quick motions; simply rest your hand nearby and wait for the hamster to get curious and come to you.

  • When the hamster comes near, gently pet his back so that he gets used to the feeling of being touched.
  • Don't swoop your hand into the cage from above, since this could simulate the experience of being attacked by a bird. Make sure the hamster knows where your hand is coming from and doesn't feel startled.

Never disturb a sleeping hamster. You may want to pet and hold your hamster when you see him cuddled up in his nest, but resist the temptation. Wait until he's awake and ready to play. If you try to pick him up while he's sleeping, you'll startle him, and he may become afraid of you.

  • Hamsters naturally burrow in tunnels underground, and they aren't used to being disturbed in their sleep. If you wake your hamster up he may think of you as a predator.

PICKING UP YOUR HAMSTER-

Crouch low in plain view. Make sure your hamster can see you before you pick him up. Get down near the cage and talk to him a little bit so he knows you're there. You might want to pet him a little bit first so he feels calm and ready to be handled.

Use both hands to pick up your hamster. Slip one hand underneath his body and place the other hand horizontally over his back. Picking him up with two hands will prevent him from feeling squeezed by one. This way you have more control as you hold your hamster, and he'll feel a lot more comfortable.[3]

  • Remember, don't grab your hamster; pick him up gently. You can carefully nudge him into the palm of your lower hand, then hold his back with your other hand. The whole process should be very gentle, with no jerky motions that could startle your hamster.
  • If your hamster resists being picked up, don't make him do it. Wait until another time when he's in the mood.

Cup your hamster firmly, but not too tight. Once he's in your hands, cup his body so that he can't fall out of your grasp. Hamsters don't generally try to jump away when they're being held so there's no need to hold him in a tight grip, but you want hold him securely enough that he won't accidentally fall. Do not squeeze him; you could very easily damage his bones and internal organs without meaning to.

Hold you hamster close to your chest. Cup him near your chest if you need to carry him or if you're standing. This is the most comfortable and secure position. Don't hold him outstretched away from your body, over your head or low near your stomach; you might accidentally drop him. Keep him safe and secure near your chest.[4]

  • Do not swing the hamster around or play "airplane" with him. Hamsters are very easily startled and won't appreciate the feeling of swooping through the air!

Lower the hamster carefully into the cage. When you're finished holding him, lower him gently back into the cage, making sure his feet are on the ground before you take your hand away. You can spread out your palm and allow him to simply step off your hand. Do not drop him, even an inch or two, or he could end up getting hurt.

HANDLING A SHY HAMSTER-

Try offering a little food. Some hamsters take a long time to get used to being handled. If you have a very shy hamster, try offering a little food to get him to come near. A tiny treat will usually do the trick. Place a small piece of carrot or another nutritious hamster food in the palm of your hand, then lay your hand near your hamster and wait for him to come take it.

Use the plastic bottle method. A great way to get your hamster used to the feeling of being touched is to use a plastic bottle or cup to pick him up. Set a plastic bottle or cup that's wide enough for the hamster to walk through in the cage, and wait for him to walk inside. Carefully lift the cup and cup it with your hands so that your body warmth can be felt through the plastic. The hamster will get used to the feeling of being in contact with your body heat, and will soon feel less shy about being handled.

  • Make sure the container you use has a sufficiently wide mouth, so the hamster won't get stuck trying to come back out.
  • Do not use glass, since it's too slippery and the hamster could end up falling.

Blow gently if your hamster bites you. Hamsters don't usually bite as a way of attacking; they usually just do it because they're confused. If your hamster begins biting down on your hand, lower your face and blow very gently toward your hamster's face. The hamster will take a step back and blink, wondering what he just smelled. This gives you time to free your hand from his grip.

  • Don't blow too hard or fling the hamster away. You'll scare the hamster and make him afraid of you in the future.

Never punish a hamster. Hamsters do not learn as a result of being punished. Scolding or physically punishing your hamster will simply cause him to feel fear when you're nearby. He'll probably start hiding when you come into the room, rather than coming out to play. Always be kind and gentle to your hamster. Make sure his needs are being met to keep him happy. If he exhibits aggressive or unwelcome behavior, talk to your vet.