Hamsters are more and more present in our homes. Belonging to the large family of New Pets (NAC), they are however very different from rabbits or guinea pigs. Hamsters are low maintenance, but the smallest of them weigh only 20 grams or are only 5 cm. It is therefore obvious that precautions must be taken when handling and caressing them. Here are our tips for making contact and enjoying your pet without hurting it.
Respect the sleep of your hamster
The great rule of thumb, valid for any pet, is to respect the identity and needs of your hamster. Even if his little face appeals to more than a young child, he is not one of the most suitable pets for them. The main reason is that it is an animal with a way of life nocturnal. So it can be somewhat frustrating for a child to see the animal sleeping all the time. However, it is essential to let it rest during the day, otherwise it will develop aggressiveness, ruining your desires for contact and caresses, as well as stress, which will shorten its already short life span. When he eats, it is a question of adopting the same behavior as when he sleeps: it is his moment to him, which must in no case be disturbed.
The hamster is indeed an animal that can be tamed. But it takes time because of this discrepancy with our human lifestyles, except for people who themselves experience an offset life, due to night work for example.
First step in taming the hamster: getting it used to you
Hamsters are lively little animals with excellent reflexes. Also, if you think that surprise will be your best ally in getting hold of your hamster, think again! He will always be the fastest and if he is not willing to be caught, he will undoubtedly seek to defend himself by biting.
The first step is to get the animal used to your presence and that it understands that you do not want to harm it, that you are not a vital danger to it. The approach period is very gentle in the movements, when you clean the cage, bring it food or change its water. As long as there is still mistrust on his part, the best way to get him out of his cage to clean it, is to present the hamster with a paper towel tube blocked at one end: seduced by the hiding place, he will gladly slip into it.
A hamster who is used to your presence and recognizes you is a hamster who knows your odour. As humans, because it is the sense we use the least, we often underestimate the importance of smell in animals. Don’t neglect your voice though: speak quietly to your hamster as you approach the cage.
While you might think that using gloves is a good idea to protect yourself from any bites, they not only cover your scent, but they also decrease handling sensations, making smaller hamsters crush. These accessories are absolutely not useful as long as you are patient.
Second step: establish contact
The best time to take care of your hamster is at the end of the day, when he has woken up and begins his activity period.
The very nature of the hamster works in your favor: it is a small animal. curious. Also, as soon as you put your hand in the cage and do not move (make yourself comfortable beforehand …), the hamster will approach to feel you closer. Even if you’re all excited that contact is finally made, don’t move just yet. It is better to progress slowly and surely, rather than wanting to act too quickly, which could ruin the progress made so far.
After a few days, you will be able to move your fingers. By placing a treat in the center of your hand, the hamster will climb it. He can first take it away to taste it further. But then, if he feels safe, he will gain confidence and be able to taste it in the palm of your hand. It is then with care that you can fold your fingers around the animal, opening them immediately if it tries to go away.
Step three: grab the hamster and stroke it
You will then give it the habit of being worn. To do this, you leave your hand in the cage and lift it 2 or 3 cm. This allows the hamster not to hurt itself if it decides to run away.
Even when you and him are more comfortable, it is important to maintain a security. You are not immune to sudden panic, from a door slamming or some other frightening noise. If he falls from a height, the injury could be fatal. It is therefore better to take your precautions and not move the hamster too high, or ensure a possible fall with a cushion.
Also remember to protect your clothes with a towel because the hamster can pee or poop on you.
At the first signs of nervousness, put him back in his cage so that he calms down.
Never grab a hamster by the skin of the neck! Its framework is fragile, you could injure it. You grab the hamster with both hands from below. If the hamster gets used to handling well and has a calm temperament, you can try to wrap it with three fingers around the body to place it in the palm of the other hand, without leaving it hanging for too long. If you tighten too much, you will know it quickly: it will struggle. So stay light in your grip. As for the caresses, rub gently in the direction of the hair.
You now know all the rules of good behavior to live sweet moments with your hamster. Enjoy !