Even though they’re often thought of as ideal pets for kids and are usually cuddly, affectionate companions, in some situations, hamsters can and do bite. It’s rare for a hamster to actually be aggressive, though, and they typically only bite when they get scared. Those tiny teeth may not do as much damage as those of other animals, but a bite will hurt and should be discouraged. Fortunately, you can gradually train your hamster to accept being handled and stop biting.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a month or even longer to gain your hamster’s trust. And if your hamster settles down and responds faster than expected, you can shorten the time between the steps.
If your hamster is still fearful at any point, go back to the previous step and spend a little more time working on it. Remember, moving to a new cage in new surroundings is very stressful, so this period also gives your hamster a chance to adjust to life in its new home. Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia / Getty Images
Once your hamster is taking treats comfortably, you can begin trying to gently pet it.
What to do if a hamster bites you?
Don’t shake your hamster to get it to release its grip on you. ….Don’t shout at your hamster. ….Clean the wound with warm water, and an anti-bacterial solution, make sure the wound is dry, then use a loose piece of bandage to dress it.
Do hamsters bite to show affection?
Hamsters do give love bites. That’s normal! It means she loves spending time with you!
If you’ve ever had a hamster, you’ve probably familiar with a couple of situations. The first is his chewing a hole in his cage to stage a daring escape and prompt a search and chase throughout the house. The second is his keeping you awake night after night with the cling-clang melody of his nocturnal cage-biting. Hamsters have a good reason for biting the cage bars, so don’t think he’s necessarily doing it just to annoy you.
Wood and plastic cages can be attractive, but are also susceptible to being chewed through, leading to avoidable escapes. If you don’t want him to have any bars to chew on, a glass enclosure such as an aquarium is an acceptable alternative, so long as it gets enough fresh air.
Hamsters don’t bite for fun, and they don’t do it out of malice. They bite when theyre scared, stressed, or a bit confused. If you’ve been bitten by your pet, don’t take it personally. Theres almost certainly a reason for the behavior, and the likeliest scenarios are that you haven’t hand-trained him yet, or that he’s frightened of something else – an object, another pet, or a noise, perhaps – and therefore super-defensive.
Offer treats as you train, to encourage the hamster, and hold these in plain view rather than concealed, so that he realizes it’s not simply an edible part of your hand! Be gentle, be patient with the progress, and avoid sudden, fast movements that might startle him.
After two weeks the hamster should be happy and confident enough to approach your hand when you offer it, and hop on board – with no biting.
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
Why Do Hamsters Bite?
Tame hamsters are those that have been handled regularly, so they’re used to people and don’t get scared easily. On the other hand, hamsters that have not been handled much are usually not very tame, and they often bite if you try to pick them up. When you’re dealing with these hamsters, the most important thing to remember is that they’re biting because they’re afraid, not because they’re aggressive.
How to Stop the Biting
The key to handling a hamster that bites is patience. You need to earn the trust of your hamster, and this is a slow and gradual process. This a good approach if you’ve had a hamster for some time and biting continues to be an issue. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to a new hamster that may be a little shy at first.Don’t be discouraged if it takes a month or even longer to gain your hamster’s trust. And if your hamster settles down and responds faster than expected, you can shorten the time between the steps. If your hamster is still fearful at any point, go back to the previous step and spend a little more time working on it.Over time, your hamster will learn to see you as a source of treats and not be scared of you. It will take a while, but it will be worth it in the end.
Week 3: Offer Your Hamster Treats
By now, you may have discovered some of your hamster’s favorite treats. If not, try sunflower seeds, raisins, and apples. While you should only feed your pet these treats in moderation, they can be great training tools.Offer your hamster these goodies from the bare hand that you’ve been putting in its cage. Eventually, it will probably come over to eat, which will help you gain its trust.
Week 4: Pet Your Hamster
Once your hamster is taking treats comfortably, you can begin trying to gently pet it. If it tolerates this, you can move on to the next step of picking up your hamster. Otherwise, continue to patiently offer treats and petting.
Week 5: Pick Up Your Hamster
If your hamster accepts treats and allows you to touch it, it’s time to try picking up your pet. Once again, go slowly and let your hamster guide how far you get in each session.A good approach is to entice your hamster onto your hands with the treats. Then, you can try scooping it up with both hands.Place one hand on either side of your hamster and then bring your hands together under its belly. Gently cup your hamster in your hands, rather than tightly gripping over its back. Hamsters sometimes find pressure over their backs to be threatening at first.Don’t hold your hamster high off the ground in case it tries to jump out of your hands. At first, try holding it just off the floor of its cage, gradually lifting a little higher. Holding a hamster facing your body may make it less likely to try to jump away.
Hamsters are nocturnal animals, and they’re good about entertaining themselves. But they still want a little love sometimes. If your hamster is chewing on the cage bars, it’s oftentimes because he wants your attention. Hamsters should get individualized attention every day, even if it just means taking him out of the cage for a little cuddling or time in the exercise ball — during his waking hours only; don’t wake him regularly. Staying inside his enclosure all the time can lead to something like cabin fever. In such a case, a hamster won’t hesitate to let you know he needs some attention.
Love of Chewing
Plain and simple, hamsters love to chew. It may not seem like a particularly intellectually stimulating way of entertaining oneself, but to the hamster, it just feels good. This is due largely in part to their biology, particularly the teeth. Unlike your teeth, which remain the same essential size and shape your whole life, a hamster’s teeth constantly grow. Hamsters grind them down constantly by regular chewing. Chewing on a hard object, like his cage bars, is an evolutionary imperative that keeps his choppers in good condition if no more suitable source for gnawing is available.
Because hamsters sometimes can’t resist chewing on their cage bars, you should keep a hamster in a cage with metal bars. Make sure that the bars are nontoxic so he doesn’t do any damage to himself when he wraps his gums around them. Wood and plastic cages can be attractive, but are also susceptible to being chewed through, leading to avoidable escapes. If you don’t want him to have any bars to chew on, a glass enclosure such as an aquarium is an acceptable alternative, so long as it gets enough fresh air. A secure wire top will suffice.
A Hamster’s Sense of Smell
Once the hamster is used to the odors of his new home – including the ones associated with you and everyone else in the household – he will begin to relax. Hand-training a hamster is largely about getting him used to the sensation and scent of your hand. That nose may by small, but it has a very powerful sense of smell!