Hi! My name is Emily, I’m a caregiver here at Presidential Pet Care. While a great deal of my work at PrezPets is with cats and dogs, I’m passionate about many types of animals, including hamsters! I have three hamsters in my furry crew right now, a Syrian and two Roborovskis. They’re such cute little creatures and I am excited to share some of what I know about them with you! I’m going to take you through what “hand taming” is and my experiences with hand taming hamsters.
Hand taming: the process of helping an animal (in our case a hamster) get comfortable with being handled
During the years I’ve kept hamsters, I’ve learned that hand taming is a long process that requires a great deal of patience and consistency! Of course, this is the key when training any animal, no matter the size. I had to really make sure that they’re 100% comfortable with each step that I take, or else they could regress to the previous one. Even though it can take a while, it just makes it that much more rewarding when they trust you enough to climb up into your hands.
Why is Hand Taming Important?
Just like other animals, hamsters all have different personalities and may not want to play with you. I’ve had hamsters that just aren’t fond of human contact but will tolerate me for a certain amount of time. Hand taming is important for things like when you have to take them out to clean their enclosure or take them to the vet. Even if you have a hamster that doesn’t like snuggling, they’ll be ok as long as you provide the best love and care you can.
Step 1: Leave them alone
The first thing I do after bringing a new little friend home: leave them alone for a few days. I know it’s tempting but they just had a big move and are very stressed out. You don’t want to add more stress by constantly poking around their new home, no matter how cute they are. I might stand a little ways away and quietly talk to them so they get used to my voice. Hamsters have poor eyesight so as long as I’m not moving around too much and casting shadows, they’ll be fine.
Step 2: Let them get used to your hand
After the adjustment period, I’ll start interacting by snaking my hand down into their enclosure as far away from them as I can with a tasty treat like a sunflower seed. I don’t go down from above them, this isn’t a claw machine. The point is to move slowly and not chase them around. I also make sure that my hands are clean; I don’t want my hamster mistaking my fingers as food!
*tip: “bathtub bonding” is a great way to bond with your hamster. Cover the tub with some towels or an old blanket and sit in there with your hamster. Add a few toys and give them some space to run away if they need it
Step 3: Pick them up
My next step is to see if they’ll stand on my hand (again I don’t progress to the next step unless my hamster is comfortable with the previous one). To do this, I place a few treats in the palm of my hand and lay it flat on their bedding. If they eat next to or on your hand, great! See if you can wiggle your fingers a little without them scurrying off. If they’ll let you, try lifting them up a little while they’re standing on your hand.
*tip: if your hamster isn’t comfortable with you picking them up by hand, see if they’ll let you pick them up via a paper towel roll, a mug, or by using gloves
When you take your time with hand taming, it can be quite rewarding. If you’re interested in learning more, here are a couple of my favorite hamster/small animal YouTubers where I picked up a lot of helpful tips:
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