A cute, fuzzy hamster can pack a sharp little bite with the teeth he uses to so ably whittle wood. Cut down on nips by following good hamster husbandry practices to discourage biting of human hands. Reward rodents after a nip-free play session with bit of dried fruit or a chew-friendly twig.
Your hamster may be nipping simply because he's nervous. If you've just acquired your pet and cant' wait to play, don't. You need to let him settle in first. New surroundings and new people can put a hamster on the defensive.
Let your hamster acclimate to his new home for a few days before bringing him out to play. The Humane Society of the United States recommends draping a lightweight cloth over his cage for the first day or two to enable your hamster to get used to his immediate surroundings. As you bring him food and water, he'll get used to your presence as well as to your hand being in and near his cage.
Put your relaxed hand in the hamster's cage for a few moments at times other than mealtime, so he doesn't associate your presence with food only. Acclimating him this will will eventually allow you to handle him with less risk of a fearful nip.
Give your hamster proper housing, and abide by his nocturnal schedule to inhibit biting behavior: Let a sleeping hamster sleep. Rousing these nighttime creatures from daytime slumber is asking to be nipped by a grumpy rodent. Ensure that your hamster is not in a living situation where he will be fighting others hamsters, or that aggression may be passed on to you when you try to hold them. Don't keep mixed-gender hamsters together unless you want a lot of baby hamsters.
Syrian hamsters, which are the larger hamsters in a pet store, including the long-haired "teddy bear" variety, must be housed alone; otherwise they will fight. If you want to keep more than one, put the cages next to each other. Make sure your hamster's cage is spacious and out of reach of predators such as dogs and cats; this will help lower your hamster's stress level.
If dwarf hamsters were not raised together, they should be introduced slowly, with cages next to each other for two weeks after the initial two-week quarantine period. Dwarf hamsters living in same-sex groups should have plenty of room, such as a 20-gallon aquarium, to keep their stress low.
A hamster wants to take a bite of what smells yummy or interesting. If you've been handling his food pellets, hay, fruits, veggies or even chicken before you pick up your hamster, he's going to smell that residue and be tempted to take a taste. If he gets a whiff of another hamster you've been handling, he may get territorial and take a bite.
Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling your hamster to cut down on nips from residual scents. Wash your hands after handling your hamster for good hygiene.
Hamsters may nip if they feel threatened by rough play or simply want to be left alone. Let your hamster see you as you securely lift him, supporting his entire body but not squeezing too tightly. Move slowly, be gentle and speak to him in a soft voice to keep him calm. Kids should sit on the floor when handling hamsters to reduce the risk of injury from falling.
Don't get angry if you do get bit. If a hamster does sink his teeth into skin, gently blow in his face to get him to stop, instead of screaming or roughly handling the rodent. If there isn't any apparent reason for biting, or if a hamster who is usually easy to handle starts biting, take your pet to a veterinarian, as there may be an underlying medical problem.
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