5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop It

A biting hamster is never fun. For example my Teddy used to nip at my fingers when I first brought him. I figured out why he wanted to bite and how to stop him as well. 

As it turns out, hamsters do a lot of things with their teeth, and half the time they have their teeth on you they’re not really biting.

hamster biting

So why is your hamster biting in the first place ?

Hamsters bite when annoyed or scared, and they’re very easy to scare.

That’s the most common reason, but a list of possible reasons could be:

  1. Your hamster is scared/irritated – hamsters get defensive real fast, and that often means biting or scratching
  2. The hamster could be hungry or you could be smelling of food
  3. He found an unfamiliar scent on you, or you might be a new person – he might bite strangers
  4. Your hamster might be a difficult hamster, or one that doesn’t like being handled at all
  5. He might be hurting and you’re touching that part of him

There are times when you might mistake a nibble for the beginning of a bite, draw your hand fast, thus scaring the hamster, and end up bitten anyway.

I’ve found this out with my Teddy when he was young, and I was trying to earn his trust. He still nips from time to time, since he is a hamster after all.

Hamsters are very curious things, and will want to explore everything. Since they can’t see very well, they’ll use their paws, nose and teeth to try everything out. Let’s talk about that for a bit, since it can often be mistaken for a bite.

Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including you

This doesn’t mean you’re a snack for him, he knows that. It’s just that hamsters have very very poor eye sight. Just enough to see right in front of them, but not enough to tell distances or certain things apart.

So, hamsters use their ears, whiskers, paws and nose to figure out the things around them. This, combined with a natural curiosity will make them want to touch and feel everything. That means that your hamster will also try nibbling on things to get a feel for them.

Much like baby humans, actually. Except hamsters never grow out of that phase. That, and the fact that a hamster’s front teeth never stop growing. Ever. So they need to always file them down on something, and that’s an instinct as well.

So the next time you feed your hammy from your hand, don’t be surprised if he starts inching towards the edge of your palm, or the crease of the palm. He’s naturally drawn there, and will try to chew on any ends and bits, even if they’re your fingers.

When this happens, draw your hand away slowly. Try to suppress your reflex since any quick movement will scare your hamster. And once you’ve scared him, he will definitely bite. So take your hand away gently and you hamster will leave it alone.

Until you present it to him again, since he is very curious, always. But draw your hand away gently, and he won’t bite.

Teddy: Us hamsters are a curious bunch, and we’ll want to try to get a feel of everything. Don’t make any sudden movements, we scare easily !

Reasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about them

These are things I’ve tried myself, and things I’ve discovered from talking to other hamster owners. Most of these can be managed easily enough.

Your hamster is scared or irritated

These are in fact the same thing, at their core. A scared hamster is an angry, jumpy hamster, so we want to avoid this as much as possible, for the hamster and for you as well.

For more info on why your hamster can get scared of you – or anything else, really – you should go here. It’s an article on exactly why your hamster might be scared, and what you can do to calm him down. Also, you find out how to avoid most of the reasons your hamster gets scared. Do take note that some hamsters are just too easy to scare, and that’s just their personality.

In short, any scared or irritated hamster should not be handled immediately. Give the furball some time to relax and calm down, speak to him softly. Talking to him helps a lot, but keep you voice low since hamsters have very sensitive hearing.

Using food and treats works as a way to get the hamster used to you, and he will calm down much faster with a peanut in his paws than not. Unsalted peanut, no peel.

Your hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled food

This is very true, and something that is easy to forget. Like dogs, hamsters have very keen senses of smell. So if you’ve handled some food, wiped your hands on a towel, then went to pick up your hamster, he might bite.

This is because he can smell the food on your hands, and not figure out that it’s your hand, not a piece of chicken.

So wash your hands very well before handling your hamster. Use a soap that doesn’t have a strong smell, and avoid any fruity soaps. Make sure you get under the nails since some food particles might get stuck there, and your hamster might go straight for those.

And sometimes, your hamster might be very hungry in that particular moment, and you’ve chosen to handle him when he wanted to eat. So, never handle the hamster when he is eating, same as you would leave alone a dog or cat when they’re eating.

You might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just met

Most hamsters are skittish, they don’t trust very easily and get defensive fast. That’s normal when you take into account how many predators they have in the wild.

Now, if your hamster that you’ve had since forever and used to pick up easily, suddenly shies away or even bites your hand, there is a reason. What have you handled recently ? Another animal’s scent might have picked up on you, like a stray cat you played with, or the neighbor’s dog.

It might be on your clothes, not necessarily on your hand. Or, it could be a strong smell like citrus – winter time with orange and clementine peels, maybe. A strong perfume, or anything new your hamster doesn’t recognize.

My Teddy hates citrus oil and scrunches up his face whenever I peel an orange. Coffee grounds is again a scent he doesn’t like. I mean he gets close to the edge of the cage, gets a few whiffs, then makes the most disgusted face. He always does that, even if he’s smelled my coffee every morning. Maybe I make terrible coffee, who knows.

As with the food on your hands, make sure you wash your hands before handling your hamster. And if you’ve got any heavily scented clothes on you, consider changing out of them.

But what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ?

That’s a whole other story, and the hamster will not want to be around you at first.

Most hamsters are distrustful, so you should not try to touch them right after seeing them for the first time. A very clear example was when a neighbor came with his daughter to see the hamster. The little girl is blind, so she needs to see with her hands.

But since Teddy never met her, and I didn’t know better, and she tried to ouch him, Teddy started squeaking and tried to catch one of her fingers. I had him in my hands, and got him away fast enough.

No one ended up bitten, but I learned a very important lesson that day. Strangers need to be introduced slowly, and the hamster will take a few encounters to accept someone new.

So if you’re meeting a new hamster for the first time, first let him smell your hand through the cage. Then, feed him a bit of food through the cage.

After a few tries, or better after a couple of days, you can then try to place your hand inside the cage, with a bit of food on it, to encourage him to touch your hand.

Your hamster might be difficult to handle

Some hamsters just don’t like being handled, no matter how much time or effort you put in. That’s just their personality, and there’s not much you can do about it.

If you do find yourself with a difficult hamster, still try to be nice to him. Try finding his limit, and don’t cross it. If he will eat from your hand, but absolutely will not climb onto your hand or let you pick him up, then stop.

That’s where his comfort ends, and there’s no point in pushing him any further. He may be your pet, but there are certain limits you both have.

If your hamster is exceptionally difficult, try going to your local vet. He might be able to figure out something that you can’t, like if your hamster has an illness or maybe he’s seen cases like this before.

It might take a very very long time to tame a difficult hamster. It might even take months, but you should still try. This is especially true if it’s a hamster you’ve picked up from a shelter or previous owner. There might be some bad things that the hamster can’t forget.

Always approach the hamster with a treat or food, and it will be easier. If you want to know what treats or foods are safe for your hamster, you should check out this hamsters food list. It’s got what you can and can not feed hamsters, and what kind of treats hamsters can eat.

My Teddy is a bit difficult

In that, he will not sit still for more than 2 seconds when you hold him. He is a hamster, most of them don’t sit still anyway. But my Teddy is a very strong and independent hamster, who don’t need no man.

Seriously though, there are times when he will stay in my hand, but most of the time I have to do the hand-washing motion when I handle him. You know, putting one hand in front of the other while he keeps trying to climb out.

He rarely ever bites anymore, he used to a while back. But this was mostly because it took me a few weeks to tame him. This is when I found out that hamsters can lose trust in their owners sometimes. I had a period when I was too afraid to touch him, so I had to re-tame him.

But now Teddy and I are friends again, he only nibbles my hand when I feed him, and he doesn’t shy away like he used to when I reach for him.

Whatever I write here is what I’ve tried or found out with my Teddy, and I hope it helps you befriend your hamster faster than I did.

Your hamster might be hurting

Sometimes hamsters hurt themselves and it’s not obvious. Like maybe he fell from a level in his cage, or bit himself while grooming, or possibly sprained his foot in the wheel.

It could be anything. But sometimes it’s not noticeable straight away, like a whole mess of blood and fur. Sometimes it’s a slight limp, or maybe not even that.

But when you go to pick up your hamster, he might bite because you’re touching a very sensitive part of his body. If you had a sprained ankle and someone tried to pet it you’d hate it too.

If you notice anything like this with your hamster, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your hamster might be sick or hurt, and need medical attention.

Most of the time minor injuries heal by themselves, but with small creatures like hamsters you need to be very careful.

A few precautions when picking up your hamster

Most of the time the biting happens because the hamster is scared. And a few things need to be done properly before you try to pick up your hamster.

Make sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements.

So no picking up the hamster under the Christmas tree with the fairy lights on with loud music, for example. Hamsters are easy to scare. A calm, quiet, predictable atmosphere will keep the hamster at ease.

Do not pick up your hamster from above.

As in, do not use your hand like a claw to close it around your hamster. You’re scaring him, since it feels a lot like when his ancestors were swooped up by birds of prey.

Instead, use a scooping motion. Come from the front, with an open palm and let the hamster climb in on his own. You can use a treat in your hand to make the hamster come closer.

Then, place your other hand on top of the hamster, like a shield. Hamsters are active and fidgety and they will not sit still in your hand.

Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smell

Perfume, fruits, motor oil, coffee, whatever you’ve used recently. When you wash your hands, avoid fruity soaps since your hamster will truly believe that’s an apple or strawberry you have on your hand, and will try to bite into it.

Avoid any sudden movements.

Hamsters can’t see very well, but they notice your movements. You don’t have to be extra slow, but do not be too quick with your hands.

Dwarf hamsters are more jittery

The smaller hamster breeds are a bit hyperactive, and will rarely sit still. An adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy might come up to you … normally, I’d say. But a dwarf will scurry and race every where. So, they’re harder to handle and bite easier.

If you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster.

This is because hamsters will nibble on everything that sticks out, so your nails are a great for that. And if the hamster chews on nails that are done up ? The nail polish is toxic for him, so make sure he doesn’t get his teeth anywhere near your nails.

This is something my girlfriend discovered shortly after we got Teddy. Luckily she wasn’t wearing anything on her nails at the time.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

hamster biting

If all else fails, you can use a garden glove

In no way is this a good way to handle your hamster on a regular basis. But if you’ve got a very difficult hamster, and you need to pick him up for a short amount of time (like checking his body for injuries or rashes) then you will need protection.

A gardening glove is great for this, since it’s made of thick, sturdy material the hamster can bite into without hurting himself or you. There are a few things to be careful about when you handle the hamster like this:

  • be careful to not squeeze him hard
  • be careful to hold him firmly enough, since he will wiggle his way out
  • keep the handling very very short, very close to his cage in case he jumps

A hamster is a very light creature, and he’s hard enough to feel in your hand anyway. All that fluffy fur, combined with a light weight, you don’t really know where he starts and where he finishes.

But this is so very important with the gardening glove. You will not be able to feel him on your hands, but you will see him. So you must be careful to not squeeze him too hard, or hold him too lightly either.

A few other options when handling your hamster

Depending on why you need to handle your difficult hamster, you have a few other options aside from the gardening glove.

You can place the hamster in a tall, plastic cup if you need to weight him on a kitchen scale. Just place the Cut laid down in his cage, and wait for him to climb in on his own. Of course, you need to account for the cup’s weight.

You can use the hamster’s exercise ball if you need to move him from one cage to the other. Place a treat in his exercise ball, and wait for him to climb in. Then, scoop him up and place him in his new cage.

You can also use a series of tubes your hamster can climb into to get him from one cage to another. Just tap the place you want him to be, and he will soon try to find where the sound is coming from. Then you can block off the tunnels he went through once he is where he wants to be.

A gardening glove is never a good option for constant handling, but it works if you’ve got absolutely no other method of literally picking up your hamster for a good reason.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for. I know us hamsters can be a bit difficult sometimes, but we never mean you any harm. We’re scared more often than not, so there’s that too.

If you come to us with a bit of food and a slow steady hand, we probably won’t bite. So if you want to know more about the kind of food we can eat, or what kind of cage suits us best, check the articles below.

Related blog post
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideIt can be great fun and very rewarding to own and look after a Syrian hamster, but in terms of treatment and cost, it can be a major burden and a long-term commitment. Syrian hamsters are small animals with a great deal of character. Their needs are very complicated and they can be easily injured. Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and become active at night and in the evening. This implies that for people who may be out during the day and at home during the evening, they can make good pets. Table of Contents ToggleMale Syrian hamster behaviorAggressive behaviorParental behavior Social behavior of a hamster  Male Syrian hamster behavior Among the most common options for small pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. Generally speaking, it is easy to tame, enjoyable to watch, and reasonably low-maintenance, making it a good beginner’s pet. These hamsters come from northern Syria and southern Turkey’s arid areas. Just as we do, hamsters use body language. They can show several feelings that include being happy, scared, threatened, curious, terrified, angry, and many other feelings. When conversing with others, they also use sign language to a limited degree. That doesn’t say, with all that said, that they won’t use an auditory method of communication as well. To call their mothers, babies use ultrasonic sounds, females have mating calls to attract a mate, and a hamster will squeak when it feels threatened or aggressive. Many of these sounds are brief and often unrecognizable to the human ear. Learning all the behaviors of your Syrian hamster means that you will be able to understand it better, thus taking better of him. If you notice your hamster is upset, mad, or ill, you can change the way you care for it. Sometimes, when you put your hands in the cage, you may just need to create more confidence with your pet so that it doesn’t act aggressively or get afraid. If the hamster is burrowing or digging its bedding it just means that the hamster is happy. The hamster is just playing around and by digging it is searching for snacks he buried earlier. Hamsters in the wild are extremely good diggers and will develop deep underground burrows. Make sure that your hamster has a dense layer of bedding so it can dig and burrow endlessly. If he is standing erect on its legs and watching you, it means that he is curious and is watching his surroundings, but still being calm. But when they’re standing with their dukes up on their hind legs, the hamster tells you it feels threatened and if you don’t back off, he might get aggressive. They are looking for reassurance while it is grooming and feel very happy with all that’s going on. They feel comfortable and relaxed about their present condition as they are stretching their limbs. It’s a sign of fright if his ears are forward with his cheek pouches puffed up and his mouth open. Try to minimize the stress factors that brought on this action. It means that a hamster is insecure about the current situation and is likely to run and hide when it empties its cheek pouches quickly. Another indication of insecurity and uncertainty is that as you approach it gets startled. In this case, he fells unaware of what’s going on at the moment. Also, if he is lying on his back with incisors showing, it’s a sign of a threatened hamster and he is scared. If you just got the hamster and you see him walking slowly and creeping around the cage, it just means that he is insecure around his surroundings. He is not yet comfortable with the cage and needs time to adjust to it. Try burying some snacks in the bedding to keep him active and get used to the habitat. Also, if the hamster is new to the cage, when you approach him, he will freeze in place. When the hamster is afraid, he will most likely play dead by standing still or lying down. He will most likely shy away and hide from you. This means that he is stressed out with the new environment and will need to adjust to, for example, loud noises. If the hamster continues to be unresponsive, you need to make some extra measures. If a hamster has a repeated routine and is doing the same things from day to day, it means that he is mentally ill. You can fix this by giving him toys to play and exercise, or giving him a larger cage. The most indecisive sign of a hamster is its squeak. He might be squeaking for no reason at all. But it can also squeak as a mating call, if he feels uncomfortable, or if he’s scared. This situation is the most difficult to figure out. Most of the behaviors displayed by hamsters does not mean he is ill. Hamsters are very active when they are awake and always find things to entertain them. If you feel the hamster is not acting normally, you can always enrich their time with toys and exercise. Make sure your hamster has plenty of training room and has suitable things to play with, such as tiny boxes, tubes, and mazes. For exercise, a good quality running wheel may provide additional activities. Once you can handle them with trust, you should enable your hamster to spend time out of their cage, but never leave your hamster unattended or overnight out of the cage. As long as the hamster is properly maintained, he will not be bothered and his behavior will remain natural. If you notice something strange, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is unwell. Try interacting and exercising with him. If his behavior is seriously worrying you, consult with the local vet. Aggressive behavior Since they are solitary by nature, Syrian hamsters can never be housed together. If you bring two Syrians together, they’re going to fight eventually. It’s only fine to house them together when they’re either breastfeeding babies or when you’re planning on mating them. Sometimes, almost without reason, hamsters may display worrying or aggressive behaviors. Acting this way is also not an indicator of the nature of the hamster – there is generally a very good explanation of why the animal behaves this way. If two grown male Syrian hamsters are kept together, they will show aggressive behavior. When one violent hamster attempts to bite the underbelly of the other, encounters will intensify into a wrestling match. To drive the hostile hamster down, the subordinate hamster will rise up, open its mouth, puff up its cheeks and stretch its arms out. When the hamster doesn’t want any trouble, its paw may be held out, its tail flicked, and does not maintain eye contact with the dominant hamster. This action can be interpreted as a retreat. However, a wrestling match can break out if one hamster does not initially back down. The wrestling match starts when one hamster stands up on his hind legs and attempts to bite the underbelly by lunging at the other. The two hamsters start rolling around in unison, trying to get the advantage. When one of the hamsters admits defeat, it will give up by lying on its back and freezing in this position. The wrestling match is generally over when this happens, but often, no hamster wants to give up that quickly. This is when they can intensify the wrestling into a fight. A fight looks a lot like a wrestling match but takes on a more violent and physical tone. Biting can become even more extreme and can lead to severe injuries. More pronounced squeaking may also be present. In the end, a hamster will give up and escape from the fight. When the subordinate hamster runs away through a hamster tunnel and hides in another habitat compartment, the battle always ends. If the hamster cage is not big enough for the hamster to run and hide, by chasing after it, the winning hamster can continue to fight. When it comes to this, it’s probably best to physically remove one of them to separate the hamsters. Hamsters can and do bite in certain cases. However, it is uncommon for a hamster to actually be aggressive, and they generally only bite when they get frightened. The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with these hamsters is that they’re biting because they’re scared, not because they’re aggressive. Tame hamsters are those who have been handled daily, so they’re used to people and are not easily frightened. Hamsters who have not been approached often, on the other hand, are typically not quite friendly, and if you attempt to pick them up, they sometimes bite. It can bite out of fear if you grab your hamster without allowing it time to readjust to your presence. If you do not physically hold them correctly, hamsters can even nibble you, which can be very painful for them. Hamsters are nocturnal, and if you wake them up during the day, they will be quite disoriented and very agitated. If they are scared and afraid, when you try to pick them up, they are likely to bite you. When it’s awake in the early evening and night, it’s going to be a lot more active and will potentially be more comfortable playing with you. Hamsters have very bad eyesight, and when they’re uncertain whether anything is edible or not, they are likely to experiment. If you stick food through the cage bars, then when you do the same with your finger, it will also believe it is a tasty treat and will bite you. When it comes to biting hamsters, it’s important to be patient. You will need to gain the trust of your pet and do so gradually. Don’t be brought down by the fact that it may take a month or a few months to fully succeed in this. Gaining a hamster’s trust can vary from week to week. Spend time sitting near the cage and talk to your hamster. Remember, moving to a new cage and new environment is very stressful, so this period is also habituation to a new home. After a week, try putting your hand on the cage. Place your hand next to the door or top of the cage, then extend it a little further each following day. Don’t try to touch the hamster, but if he becomes curious, let him explore your hand. When the hamster explores your hand, use that trust to slip him some treats and let it eat them from your hand. When your hamster starts eating treats relaxed, you can try to gently pet it. If your pet accepts treats and allows you to cuddle him, try lifting it. First, try to direct it so that it climbs into your arm, by placing the treats in it.  Parental behavior The Syrian female hamster has anatomical characteristics that are different from other species. They mature from 8-10 weeks of age and have an estrous period of 4 days. She frequently prefers to mate with an alpha male who, more often than any subordinate males present, will flank the mark (a scent-marking activity associated with aggression and competition). Male offspring are at greater risk of permanent effects from maternal social stress than female offspring. It is always recommended to separate the male hamster from the mother and the babies. There are many cases in which the father eats the babies, but it sometimes happens with the mother as well. In expectation of their babies’ birth, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A female hamster is pregnant for only around three weeks and up to 20 babies will evidently appear in a hamster’s nest overnight. If by nesting and consuming a little more food than average, a hamster has prepared for a regular birth, then it may be particularly shocking to see a hamster kill and eat its own offspring. But while the reason this happens could be a shortage of food, there are a few other explanations that a hamster will eat its babies. For anyone, even a hamster, getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and caring for multiple babies is really exhausting. If a hamster is too stressed, its babies will be eaten. She may feel that caring for her young is more than she can do. The same goes for when the hamster is scared. This is especially true with young hamsters. This can be caused by the fear of other pets, loud noises, and many other things that will intimidate the hamster. A hamster mother spends a lot of time grooming and caring for her youngsters. The fragrance left on each infant helps the mother to identify the babies. The mother could become confused and not know her own babies if a new smell, such as the scent of a human, is detected on the babies. The shortage of food is the most apparent explanation of why a hamster eats its own babies. Every animal that is pregnant or breastfeeding needs more energy than it can normally need. Therefore, there is so much more food required. From the lack of food, the hamster may be starving and fear being unable to provide for its baby. To prevent the mother from eating her babies, provide a quiet place for them. This can include keeping kids and other pets out of the space where your hamster lives, keeping the noise down in your house so that your hamster is not bothered, and maybe even covering the cage so that no potential threats or tension can be noticed. The most obvious precaution to take is to provide the hamster with plenty of food, during and after pregnancy. Make sure that you offer a high-quality hamster diet with plenty of protein as soon as you know that your hamster is pregnant. Also, make sure it always has clean water. You may want to split the hamsters if your pregnant hamster lives with another. This would make the babies safer and prevent any adult battle. If you find that you have a male and a female hamster living together, this will probably eliminate any pregnancy in the future. But, if both male and female hamsters are cared for properly, both of them will show high parental behavior. The male hamster will also contribute to building a nest, caring, grooming the young. Male hamsters will even pick up and carry the babies more often than the female. Even though the female hamster is more likely to eat the babies, male hamsters will injure them more. When trying to lie down, the male will accidentally lay down on the babies, almost suffocating them.  Social behavior of a hamster  Hamsters are normally solitary creatures and may be aggressive to other animals, often leading to significant injury or even death. In particular, Syrian hamsters are not inherently sociable and they are best kept on their own. The Syrian Hamster lives alone in the wild and is intensely territorial, threatening any intruders or other hamsters that it might face while traveling. In separate burrows, Syrian hamsters live a distance away from some other burrow of another hamster. Hamsters create unique odors that they use to communicate, so avoid housing unknown hamsters and hamster cages next to each other, as they can find this disturbing and can start fighting. In the house, they can also find the presence and scent of other animals stressful, especially animals such as cats and dogs that would usually eat small animals such as hamsters. Never let other pets rest on or interact with the hamster’s cage. By using their body language to exhibit emotion, you should observe your hamsters communicating and engaging with each other. As a pet hamster owner, understanding when all is well in the cage or when you may need to resolve a dispute is crucial. These hamsters are one of the most solitary species in the wild. As pets, they should always be alone in a cage. Young hamsters often tolerate cage companions for a little while. But there’s a fair chance they’ll become violent when they age, even battling to the death. Hamsters will stick their noses up to each other’s muzzles when they face each other head-to-head. Through smelling their scented gland that is located in that region of their face, they would be able to tell who the other is. Several things may then take place once their identity is established. If one hamster recognizes the other like a dominant hamster, he will point its ears up, lean backward in fear, turn, and leave. The female could do a walk where she arches her back and then goes into the lordosis position, if the encounter is between a male and a female, showing she is ready to mate. For two hamsters, circling is another way to find out who each other is. To scent its glands, one hamster will put its head up under the other hamster’s belly, then another will take its turn to smell the other. This hamster action may often look a little aggressive if there is an over-eager hamster involved. Often, it can escalate into wrestling in this case. Syrian hamsters are generally friendly, and many owners say that they are a good choice of pet since they can develop a very close bond with their owners. They are the biggest and one of the most common pet hamsters, partially because their size makes it easier to handle them. These hamsters are slower than any of their smaller counterparts. Another factor adding to their popularity is that this hamster breed should be kept on its own, as for fun and excitement, it focuses more heavily on its owner. Because they do not have a hamster friend to play with, during the hours you are both awake, it will be more open to forming relationships with the owners. Hamsters may not interact with a variety of people like many other pets do. Instead, hamsters are most happy sharing time with one, often two, owners. A hamster will learn to recognize the owner’s smell and might be scared of anyone he doesn’t know. Hamsters are reasonably independent and can amuse themselves for long periods, provided that their housing is sufficiently enriched with toys, bedding, burrowing, and climbing opportunities. Also, the hamster should undergo regular handling and contact to be comfortable and well-adjusted. Some hamsters are cuddlier, while others are more independent. Syrian hamsters are usually easier to tame, so they will be a little more affectionate than other types of hamsters. But this is only because the Syrians are much bigger than the other hamsters, which makes it easier to treat them. You should pet your hamster’s body or their head very softly to express your affection when they’re either in their cage or in your hands. Hamsters often seem to prefer to sleep on their owners once the trust point has been achieved. When they’re active, you can also speak to them with a quiet and soft voice (the talking approach also works when you’re trying to develop trust in your hamster). So, it’s important to be around them and connect with them daily to create a deeper relationship between you and your hamster. Even though hamsters show affection to their owners, they will not be so affectionate and lovable to other hamsters. One shouldn’t be too affectionate with the hamster. Remember that in the wild, hamsters live alone. It’s their natural instinct to play, explore, and eat on their own. They should have plenty of time by themselves, and they will find any kind of entertainment. Some owners tend to think that hamsters get lonely and want to touch them all the time. When you’re developing a relationship with a hamster, you should maintain a routine that your hamster will follow. Don’t pick it out of the cage anytime you wish. The hamster will not appreciate it if you pick him up constantly and it can become aggressive if he is not left alone. Especially during the daytime, when it is sleeping. Set up a routine so your hamster knows when he will play with you and it will not get stressed out. [...] Read more...
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save Them
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save ThemIt sounds like a horror story, a mother hamster eating her babies. But it can happen, and it’s never fun to watch. There’s a few ways you can save the babies, but you have to be careful.  You can’t save them every time, but you can still do your best to make sure they don’t end up horribly. There are some reasons though, why the hamster mothers do that. Those are very important to understand, in order to save the babies. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters eat their babies ?How to save the hamster babies from being eatenDo not stress the motherLeave food/protein for the mother before she gives birthGive the mother plenty of space, in a large cageDo not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birthDo not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks)Separate the father from the litter at all timesSome things you can’t change or saveHow to tell your hamster is pregnantAbout hamster fertility and breedingA word from Teddy So why do hamsters eat their babies ? Mother hamsters are not as emotional as human mothers.  There are a few reasons a hamster mother might eat her young, and here they are: She feels stressed/threatened like if you constantly check on her and the litter Her personal space in too small, the babies take up too much space in a cage that is too tiny She is very hungry after giving birth Accidentally storing them in her cheeks to carry them Biting them too hard when she carries them She thinks something’s wrong with them (diseased, or something physical they can’t survive) You or someone else have touched them (changed their scent) and she doesn’t think they’re hers Father hamsters are liable to eating their young as well  These are mostly reasons that can be avoided, or can be worked on so the mother is comfortable.  Rodent mothers are not the most careful mothers in the first place, compared to other mothers, for example cats or dogs. All animals can eat or kill their young, if they consider something is wrong with them. But rodent mothers, and hamsters are rodents, are much less attached to their babies. So let’s get into every reason the mother can eat her young, and how you can avoid this from happening, and/or possibly save the babies. How to save the hamster babies from being eaten Many times when the mother decides eating her young is an option, there’s not much you can do. But, you can save the babies 90% of the time by not putting the mother in a position where she thinks she needs to eat them. Here are the most common examples, and how you can save those babies by helping the mother. Do not stress the mother This is the major reason hamster mothers end up eating their young. The stress and effort of giving birth, especially her first litter, combined with you checking up on her constantly will annoy her.  Once you notice the mother is approaching her due date (18-22 days after mating), start giving her much more food than usual, and bedding and nesting material as well. She will find the most hidden corner, or use her hideout, to give birth, and you must leave her alone during this time. Best to even leave the room. Fortunately it will probably happen at night, when you’re sleeping. So if you know your hammy is about to give birth, be careful when approaching her in the morning. Do not poke at her or the cage, talk to her, or try to interact with the babies. Keep her warm and well fed, and make sure she has plenty of quiet and small children or other pets can’t reach her. Leave food/protein for the mother before she gives birth If you notice that your hamster has give birth overnight, bring her some protein. This is the food that will help her regain her strength immediately. Something like cooked egg white, or cooked plain chicken is good for your hamster.  You could leave her pieces of chicken every evening until she gives birth if you want, but it’s best to not give her something that will leave a tasty smell on the bedding right before she gives birth. She might get confused as to which one is chicken and which is her baby.  So only give her chicken or egg after she gave birth, only  while you can see her. Even if you don’t stay more than a few minutes, make sure she finishes the piece and not the babies.  In the mean time, continue feeding her through the bars, without placing your hand inside the cage. You can introduce a teaspoon through the bars to give her dry food, or sprinkle some on her food bowl. She will have a stash of food anyway, but right now would be a good time to give her more. For a list of safe foods you can give your hammy, check out this food list article. Give the mother plenty of space, in a large cage This is again something that will always come up. Space, lots of it, is something that hamsters need. The absolute minimum for a hamster cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and it’s what I’d recommend for a dwarf hamster as well. A hamster mother giving birth to 6-12 babies at once is going to fill up a cage fast. In those times, even her large cage might seem a bit cramped for her.  So always get your hamster a large cage, larger than you’d think. Especially if it’s a female you will want to breed later. You can find out more about hamster cages here, since you’ll get a rundown of all cage types and which is best for your hammy. If you’ve got 2 or more hamsters housed in the same cage, remove the mother-to-be and put her in a different, large cage long before she gives birth. She needs to adjust and feel comfortable in her new home as soon as you put her there, so place some of her old bedding and nesting material in her new temporary cage. Do not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birth This is because the mother is very tired ans started and jumpy while her babies are still very young. So do not open her cage, or change the bedding, try to put her in an exercise ball or separate her from her babies. Hamster mothers will do their best to raise and wean every one of their young, but they can scare very easily and end up eating their babies. This includes feeding the mother as well, feed her through the bars with a teaspoon or sprinkle some dry food onto her bowl. Do not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks) Touching the babies is a big mistake, when they’re so young. A baby hamster can only be removed from his mother after 3-4 weeks, and can be given for adoption immediately after. You will notice the mother has weaned them when she pushes them away after they try to nurse from her. In this period it’s important to provide her cage with even more food, since the babies will now need ‘adult’ food, like a food mix or some safe foods from your fridge or pantry. Touching or handling the babies before they are weaned will make the mother think they’re foreign, and not hers. She will reject or even eat them, so it’s best to wait a few more weeks. Separate the father from the litter at all times If the father was in the same cage as the mother, and you didn’t know she was pregnant, remove the father from the cage. Surprises happen, especially with dwarf pairs, since their sex is difficult to tell sometimes. So you might end up with a male and female pair that will give you a surprise litter one morning. The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage. If you don’t want any more litters, keep the male and female separate at all times. Hamsters can mate again, right after the mother gave birth, so keep them apart. Some things you can’t change or save Even if you do you best to keep the mother safe, warm, well fed, not stressed, and on her own in a very large cage, she still might eat at least some of her babies. This is mostly due to accidents, like her biting too hard on the baby when she tries to pick him up. Or maybe she stores the baby in her cheeks to move and forgets that’s her baby. It sounds horrible, but small animals can get clumsy like this too. If this happens, there’s not much you can do. If the baby is not weaned yet, you can not touch it because the mother will reject it and then definitely eat it. Unless you want to raise the litter on your own, since they are just a few days old. But then they will lack the important interaction they need with their mother, to learn how to ‘be’ hamsters. This is a very touchy topic, and one I’m not about to breach here. The same goes for hamster mothers who kill the babies on purpose, because they think there’s something wrong with them. Like they might be sick or have something wrong with their body, that only she can tell. She might kill them if this is the case, because she thinks they will not survive on their own. This is again something that can’t be helped, and it’s sad but it can happen. How to tell your hamster is pregnant Maybe you ended up with a pregnant hamster when you bought her from the pet store. Or maybe you notice that one of your dwarf hammies is looking a bit odd. Whatever the case, here is how the pregnancy happens and how you can tell your hamster is pregnant. First, the pregnancy lasts from 18 to 22 days, time in which the hamster’s midsection will become larger and larger. You will notice she eats much more, and doesn’t exercise as much. She is saving her strength. She will become more and more irritable as her dues date approaches, and will look for hidden, safe corners n her cage. At this time it’s best to remover her from her cage mate, and place her in a large cage on her own, with plenty of familiar old bedding and nesting material, and plenty of places to hide. If you’re not sure if your hamster is pregnant, but she seems to suddenly be a bit larger and is constantly digging and burrowing and building a large nest, best to separate her from her cage mate. If you’re wrong and she’s not pregnant, that’s okay and you can place her back. But wait for at least 3 weeks after you separate her, to see if she does give birth or not. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) About hamster fertility and breeding Hamsters can breed basically every month. In theory, you can have a new litter every month. This is because a hamster can get pregnant within minutes after giving birth. The problem with this that the mother will be dehydrated and malnourished, and won’t be able to care properly for her existing litter. Baby hamsters can mate as soon as their mother weaned them.  That’s around 3-4 weeks of age, so you need to separate the hamsters into male and female cages immediately after this happens. If you don’t, more hamster litters will come in a few weeks. To figure out which is male and which is female, pick the hamster up, and look at his rear end. In females the genitals are right under the anus. In males, there is a more noticeable space left between them. If you tilt a male a bit back while you told him, you might even notice his testicles around his tail. This is more difficult with the smaller breeds, so every breed except for the Syrian. And hamsters do not like to be held this much or in that position, so they will squirm a bit. But you must do this to figure out which is which, in order to separate them. Female hamsters are in heat every few days, during the night, so they can be mated at any point. There is no mating seasons for hamsters, as there is with other animals. A word from Teddy I hope you found out a lot about us hammies here. I know a momma eating her babies is terrible, but it can happen sometimes, and I’m glad you found out how to make sure it doesn’t happen. Us hamsters grow up fast, so make sure you keep us separated by sexes or we’ll make a whole clan in a few weeks. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we freeze, how much food we need, and even why we eat our poop ! [...] Read more...
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideAll animals communicate with one another with their body language, and that includes humans, even though we tend to focus on speaking, more than showing someone what we mean with our body. Hamsters, however, aren’t that good at articulated speech, so the only way they can communicate with other hamsters and with their owners is through their body. They can say “Hello.”, “Back off!” or “I’m hungry.” in many different ways. You’re always going to want to understand your hamster and what it’s trying to say, as that’s the best way of understanding your hamster’s needs and desires. Today, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at all these things that hamsters do to tell us or show us something. In this article, we’ll show you all the ways hamsters can use body language to explain that they need or want something, what does it mean, and what are some changes in hamster behavior that should raise concerns. Without further ado, let’s get started! Behavior Meanings in Dwarf Hamsters. There are many behaviors that may intrigue you with your hamster, so we’ll be explaining all of them. Being active at night – many owners actually don’t know this before they purchase their hamster, but most rodents are primarily night dwelling creatures. You shouldn’t be surprised if you hear your hamster running around their cage at night – that’s a sign of a perfectly happy and healthy hamster. The reason behind this is their poor eyesight, as they don’t really rely on their eyes. Hamsters tend to sniff around if they’re looking for anything and want to identify something, so night and day doesn’t really make too much of a difference to them. You can even hear them running on their wheel during the night, as they need a lot of exercises, as well. Chewing – you’re definitely going to notice that your hamster seems to be chewing a lot on a regular basis, even when they don’t have anything to chew on. This is completely normal. What they’re actually doing is filing and grinding their own teeth. Many animals, for example, sharks, have their teeth growing from the day they’re born until the day they die. Hamsters belong to this group of animals, as well. If they don’t file and grind their teeth regularly they’re going to become too long and that’s going to cause issues when they’re eating. Cheek stuffing – probably everyone knows that hamsters stuff their cheeks, it’s part of what makes them so adorable. They actually put food in their cheeks to carry it back to their den in order to hide it. The reason they do this is their natural instinct. In the wilderness, they would have to hide their food to keep it safe from other hamsters and other animals. Although there may be no need for that when they’re living in captivity, hamsters will still instinctively do this. They’ll stuff their cheeks full of food and bring that food back to their den, where they’ll hide it. Don’t let your hamster fool you into thinking that you didn’t give them enough food, as it’s likely that there’s more than enough, it’s just that they’ve hidden it. Hamster mamas actually stuff their babies into their cheeks to carry them to the den. And if they feel that the babies are in danger, they will even put their babies in their cheeks to protect them. Burrowing – hamsters burrow in order to hide from any potential threat, this is completely normal behavior, and you shouldn’t worry. You have to understand that hamsters have no defensive capabilities, they can only bite their attacker, but that’s almost useless as their teeth can’t do much damage. If a hamster bites you, they’ll likely draw some blood, but that’s about it. Unlike dogs who can bite, cats who can scratch (not to mention large cats who can rip other animals apart), and snakes who can kill with their venom – hamsters are completely defenseless. Evolution has placed them at the bottom of the food chain, and their only defense system is to run and hide. They do this instinctively, and you may even find them hiding long after they’ve bonded with you and started seeing you as someone they trust. It should be noted that hamsters are very scared animals – because they’re naturally defenseless, they fear everything – that way there’s always on the lookout for danger. Your hamster is most likely going to take a month or two to adjust to the tone and color of your voice, your scent, and your presence. However, you’ll probably see it hiding from you even after that. You can’t exactly change this – no matter how much your hamster may trust you, it’s always going to fear sudden movement, loud noise, light flashing, etc. Observing you with its ears erect – this is actually funny, but hamsters will watch you just as much as you watch them. When they feel that they’re not in danger, your hamster will try to observe you and see what you’re doing. We’re saying ‘try to observe’, because they have terrible eyesight and won’t be able to see much. When you notice your hamster watching you with its ears in an erect position, know that it’s just curious about what’s going on. Grooming – Grooming is an essential part of your hamster’s life, and it’s completely normal to notice them grooming a lot. They will spend hours upon hours of their awake life grooming themselves – they’re some of the most well-groomed pets, alongside cats (ironically). It’s important for them to groom as their hair, just like their teeth, never stops growing. Well, it slows down once they get old. Something that you should keep an eye on is patches of skin where there’s no fur. If you notice that your hamster has actually itched or groomed its own fur out, that probably means that your hamster’s sick in some way. It may be something simple, like mites, but you’ll still want to take it to the vet. With age, hamsters will become lazy – but that’s all for a good reason. Their fur will grow less with age, and it’s completely normal for them to spend less time on grooming when there’s no need for grooming. Yawning and stretching – all animals yawn, and all animals stretch, not just humans. When you notice that your hamster is yawning and/or stretching, it’s because it feels comfortable and safe in its current environment. This is actually a great sign for you, as it means that it feels comfortable around you. Stretching leaves the hamster vulnerable, and the fact that it’s willing to do that around you is a clear sign that your hamster trusts you. Eating out of your hand – while we’re at the topic, here’s another great behavior sign that your hamster trusts you. If a hamster is willing to eat out of your hand, it’s basically telling you that you’ve earned its trust. When an animal is eating, any animal (including humans), it’s at its most vulnerable. Snakes like to hide when they eat and remain dormant for weeks after digesting, most animals that live in pits like to move back to that pit to enjoy their meal. If a hamster is willing to eat straight out of your hand when it’s at its most vulnerable – it must really trust you. Biting the cage – you may sometimes notice that a hamster is biting its cage. This is textbook attention-seeking, so it means that you should take your hamster out and play with it. Rubbing their heads against the cage – this behavior has nothing to do with the previous example. Hamsters will rub their heads against the cage, especially the metal bars if they find their cage to be too small. This isn’t something you should ignore – small cages will stress your hamster out. You have to understand that hamsters are very sensitive, and if just one thing is out of order, they’ll lose their minds. If they can’t spend their energy if their cage is too small, or if they’re hungry – the result is always the same; the hamster gets stressed out. This is dangerous because smaller animals, hamsters included, are known to die from stress – their hearts can literally give out from stress. It’s also harmful because the hamster will often lose hair on its face when it rubs it on the metal bars. Biting – if your hamster bites you, it’s out of one of two reasons. Firstly, we’ve already explained that their eyesight is terrible. If you put your finger in the cage and the hamster bites it, it might just be trying to find out if your finger is actually food. This is especially often if you haven’t washed your hands, as you bring many scents with you that way (and if you’ve been eating before that, the hamster will definitely smell the food). That’s why it’s always important to wash your hands before interacting with your hamster. The second reason why your hamster may be biting you is to tell you to back off. Hamsters fear everything, and if you were a small animal and all of a sudden a giant finger was approaching you, you’d likely try to run away from it, as well. However, once they have nowhere to run to, they’ll bite back. Even if you’re well acquainted with your hamster and it knows you well, it’s still likely going to bite you in this situation. You need to interact with your hamster slowly, just how you would interact with a dog – let it sniff your hand. And even after that, don’t poke at the hamster. Nibbling – hamsters will usually start to nibble if they’re being handled and they’ve had enough of it. Return the hamster to its cage. Ears forward with cheek pouches puffed up and mouth open – this usually means that the hamster is frightened. There’s something stressing it in its current environment and you should remove that something. Emptying their cheek pouches quickly – hamsters that do this are usually under some kind of threat and they need to empty their pouches in order to run away quickly. This means that something has startled your hamster. Standing on hind legs with dukes up – this is your hamster telling you to back off. Although this will happen rarely, this is basically your hamster telling you that it’s feeling threatened and it will have to get aggressive if you don’t back off. Acting startled when you’re approaching it – this means that your hamster still hasn’t adjusted to its environment and to you as an owner. This is completely normal during the first few months of your relationship, as it takes a lot of time for hamsters to fully adapt to their owners. Sleeping during the day – completely normal. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals, so the fact that they’re sleeping during the day is the equivalent of humans sleeping during the night, nothing wrong with that. Squeaking – squeaking can mean many things in many different animal languages. Hamsters squeak when they’re in distress or feel scared. This is basically a universal sign for feeling agitated. You’re likely going to notice this when you’re taking the hamster to your home for the first time. They’re also likely to squeak if they’re in pain or if they’re fighting. If you have two hamsters in the same cage and hear them squeaking, they might be fighting. Chattering – if you hear your hamster chattering with their teeth, that likely means that they need more space. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a larger cage, but that you need to back off, give them some breathing room, because you’re irritating them and they might bite you. Hissing – although this sign is mostly connected to snakes, not furry pets like hamsters, they can his too. This usually means that they’re feeling very agitated or afraid, although it can happen when they have been startled too. Ears laid back with narrow eyes – this is actually similar to how humans behave in the same situation, as well. This means that the hamster is suspicious of something going on – they’ve noticed something that drew their attention and they need to investigate it. Lying on its back with incisors showing – this is another sign of a frightened and threatened hamster that doesn’t want to be messed with. Give your hamster some breathing room. Slowly moving around – this means that the hamster is exploring. It’s likely that your hamster will keep exploring for the first few weeks when you bring it home, it’s completely normal and shouldn’t raise any concerns. Creeping slowly along the sides of the cage – this means that the hamster is unsure of their bearings and they’re just trying to figure out where they are. Playing dead – this is one of the techniques hamsters use to evade being eaten or disturbed by other animals and predators. This is actually a method that many animals utilize, and hamsters are no different. If you notice that your hamster appears to be frozen, it’s because it’s playing dead. Unless it’s actually dead, but that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys (check by poking it). Unresponsiveness – if you find your hamster being unresponsive to your presence (which is highly unlikely, hamsters are always going to react to your presence, either positively or negatively, but they’re definitely going to react), they may be ill. Laziness – if you notice that your hamster’s acting lazy or lethargic, it may be another sign of your hamster being ill. Behavior change in Dwarfs hamsters Although it’s not behavioral, we feel that we may need to address that illnesses can be recognized by physical changes in appearance. Especially losing weight and fur. Two hamsters fighting – all males in the animal kingdom fight to assert dominance. If you notice your hamsters fighting, it may be over territory or to assert dominance. Be sure to separate them. Also know that if you have a male and a female hamster, the male hamster is going to try to mate every time the female is in heat (which is literally every four days) – and if the female doesn’t want to mate, it can actually kill the male. So you should keep your male and female hamsters separated if you don’t want this issue, and also if you don’t want literally hundreds of hamsters a year, since hamsters breed like crazy and you’ll be way in over your head very quickly. Repeating a specific behavior all over again – when hamsters do this it’s usually a sign that they’re not doing well mentally. This is most often due to a monotonous lifestyle – we’ve already explained that these animals are crazily active, and you need to keep them interested if you want them to live a healthy and happy life. You should buy some toys and consider purchasing a larger cage. Not eating or drinking – this is always a cause for concern, regardless of the species. When an animal isn’t eating, it usually means that it’s ill in some way. You should definitely take your hamster to the vet. This will often be followed by the animal losing fur and weight. Not chewing – hamsters have to chew to shred their teeth, we’ve already discussed this. When a hamster stops chewing, it usually means that you should be concerned. You will also notice if your hamster’s teeth are too long. You should take your hamster to the vet. Uncharacteristic hiding – we’ve said that hamsters hide when they’re afraid or stressed, but if your hamster keeps hiding all the time for no apparent reason, it should be a sign of concern. There’s something in your hamster’s environment disturbing it and you should try to find out what it is so you could remove it. Female Dwarf hamster behavior Female hamsters go in heat periodically, every four days. That period lasts for 12 hours. When they’re in heat, you’ll notice that they’re crouching and raising their tail. This is an invitation to mate. You’ll also notice a different smell in the air around the cage – these are the pheromones that the female is releasing to attract the male. When a female is pregnant (pregnancy usually lasts between 18 and 30 days, depending on the individual hamster), you will notice that the female is constantly burrowing and digging. This is because it’s building a better nest for her offspring. You’ll notice that these activities are particularly intensifying right before she gives birth. Mothers will be very protective of their young when they’ve given birth, and they won’t allow anyone (not even you) to come near their young. They won’t even allow the father to approach the babies. During this time, you’ll notice the mother becoming very stressed, very active, constantly running around, digging, carrying pellets, etc. When a hamster is behaving similarly to a cat, slinking around its cage, it’s probably trying to tell you that it’s in pain. “Often when in pain, a hamster may hunch his back slightly, and take very small steps,” says Dr. Kerry Kraemer, DVM, of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. “He may also be restless, and possibly show difficulties in getting comfortable. If you observe this type of movement, be sure to handle the hamster carefully, as pain may cause the animal to bite.” Waving their hands – if you see your hamster waving its little paws, it’s actually a sign of them exploring their surroundings. Hamsters have really bad eyesight, so they rely on their other senses to explore. When they want to know what’s around them, they’ll often stand on their hind feet and raise their front feet and wave them around, resembling a human. The hamster appears to be begging – if it seems like the hamster is begging, it’s not actually good to approach it. Sometimes, a hamster will stand on its hind legs with its front paws hanging limply, and many people will judge this as the hamster begging. It’s actually being watchful, and that can turn to aggression. Even though yawning is most often just that – yawning, sometimes it can actually indicate displacement behavior or an aggressive display. Yawning is often visible in aggressive, stressed, and pre-sleeping hamsters. If you see your hamster yawning, it’s best to leave it be. The exact opposite of that would be nipping – as hamsters are known to nip their owners when they want attention. If you let your hamster out of its cage and it nips your finger while it’s playing with you on the couch – it’s probably inviting you to interact with it more. Hamsters are very well known as a sensitive species, and they’ll definitely let you know that as soon as you decide to adopt one. As soon as something isn’t going their way, they’ll be sure to let you know. You should always keep an eye on the signs that your hamster is unsatisfied with something, signs saying that there’s a problem you shouldn’t ignore. You may see hamsters as animals that are just behaving animalistic, but their body language is actually quite complex and they’re trying to send messages. It’s important that you interpret these messages properly and that you behave accordingly. If there’s something wrong with your hamster’s surroundings – change them. Don’t be afraid of interacting with your hamster, most signs that are telling you to back off are going to be pretty obvious – hissing, scratching, etc. We’ve covered all signs of hamster behavior that are available for interpretation and that have actually been interpreted. Dwarf hamsters behave like most other hamsters, the only hamsters that actually somewhat different from their cousins in the behavioral department are Syrian and Chinese hamsters, so you can even use this guide if you have some other breed of hamsters. What’s also important to know is that all progress in a relationship with an animal is going to take some time, so you shouldn’t hurry it. Know how to read your hamster’s body language, know what it means, and know-how you should react to it. There’s no reason for you to not be able to communicate with your hamster, even though it can’t use words. Hamsters can grow to become loving animals, but you’re going to need to learn their language to build a trusting relationship that’s not going to be slowed down by the barrier of understanding. Feel free to consult this guide whenever you’re in doubt about what your hamster’s trying to say. [...] Read more...
Why Is My Hamster Licking The Cage? 4 Main Reasons
Why Is My Hamster Licking The Cage? 4 Main ReasonsHamsters are rodents, they like to try and test things by biting instead of licking. But licking the cage or other objects in it is not unheard of. So let’s talk about a few reasons why your hamster is licking the cage. Before getting to the topic is important to know that hamsters have different personalities and not all of them would have the same behavior for the same reason. So, it is important to know all the possible reasons for your hamster licking the cage, but you might have to decide which is most likely. Table of Contents Toggle4 Reasons your hamster is licking the cage1. Curiosity2. Cooling off3. Thirsty4. Lack of mineralsHow to clean the cage after a hamster licks it?Why does a hamster lick itself?Is it ok for your hamster to lick your hands?Why do hamsters bite the cage?Can you stop a hamster from licking its cage?Conclusion 4 Reasons your hamster is licking the cage Hamster licking the cage happens more often when we are talking about glass tanks and less often for bin cages or regular hamster cages. You can check my article about glass tanks for hamsters if you want to know more about how safe they are and what you should know when you keep your hamster in one of those. Here are a few reasons why a hamster is licking the cage. 1. Curiosity This is one of the main reasons why hamsters lick their cage, so you should not worry too much about it. Those little furballs are anxious by default, and at the same time they are also curious, which might not be the best idea in the wild since they can get into a predator trap but in some situations, it might help them get food.  Here is an article about what hamsters eat in the wild and how their diet differs from a pet hamster. I know that all the hamsters I had were curious, when they would hear a sound around their cage, the first instinct was to hide, but after a few seconds, they would come out to see what it was. You can imagine that this is not the safest behavior for a hamster in the wild but is fun to see it if you have a pet hamster. So them licking the cage, especially a glass tank it, is usually out of curiosity. They want to know if they should chew it and what it tastes like or simply want to explore more. 2. Cooling off If the room temperature is too high, they might lick the glass tank to cool off a bit, as we might eat ice cream on a sunny summer day. Compared to bin cages, glass tanks are cooler and your hamster can easily cool off (and even get too cold) when in direct contact with the glass.  If you want to know more ways to keep your hamster cool, here is an article about 9 ways to do that. But before that, you should check this article to know what is the best room temperature for a pet hamster. 3. Thirsty Being thirsty might make a hamster lick the cage, but this doesn’t happen as often since a pet hamster should always have a water bottle filled with fresh water. But to be sure, you better check that their water bottle is working properly if you see your hamster licking the cage. 4. Lack of minerals Hamsters lacking minerals might be an obvious reason for them licking the cage. However, I’ve put it last since a pet hamster usually gets all the minerals it needs from a pre-made food mix that you can find online or at the pet shop. So a pet hamster should not lack minerals. I gave a mineral chew to my first hamster, and right after that, I wrote an article about mineral chews for hamsters. You can read the article if you want to know more, but long story short, they don’t really need extra minerals, and it might actually be dangerous for them. So, a lack of minerals is not the most common cause for a hamster licking the cage but people usually think this is the main reason because we like to control things and know what the reasons and solutions are. While most of the time, the reason is unknown and you can’t do too much to stop it, but the good news is that the hamster is usually ok and doesn’t need special attention because it licks the cage. How to clean the cage after a hamster licks it? It is not crucial to clean the cage right away, but when you do, it is important to use just a bit of soap or even only hot water. Hamsters are very sensitive to the smell of soap, and if they start licking the cage again, it can be dangerous for them. My advice is not to rush to clean the cage when you see your hamster licking it but rather wait for when you do a complete clean anyway. Why does a hamster lick itself? Hamsters are very clean animals, you don’t ever need to wash them since they are doing a great job themselves and getting wet is dangerous for hamsters. They are always cleaning themselves to stay odor free, or they might leak their scent glands to release a specific odor that helps them confuse and/or scare predators. So a hamster constantly licking itself is normal behavior. You should not worry about that. The only thing that can be bad about that is when they lick and try to bite themselves since that might be a sign of having mites. Is it ok for your hamster to lick your hands? Hamsters can lick the owner’s hand as well, they do this for a few reasons. They try to show affection by doing this, which sounds cute but it doesn’t happen as often as we think. We have to keep in mind that hamsters are not social animals and they don’t necessarily enjoy playing with you. They can tolerate you, but they cannot love you like a puppy would. Depending on the hamster’s personality, some of them might not be bothered by getting picked out of the cage, but to say that they love that is a bit much. This is similar to the first reason they lick the cage: curiosity. They will try to see if it’s safe to eat, so a small bite after they lick your hands shouldn’t come as a surprise. Hamsters explore their world with their mouth and teeth, so that’s how they will explore you as well.  Why do hamsters bite the cage? A more serious and annoying behavior is when a hamster is biting the cage, either the plastic part or the bars. This can be dangerous for your hamster since they can get to eat the toxins from the plastic if they chew it. There are a few reasons for this behavior that I discussed in my article about hamsters chewing the cage bars, but I will shortly touch on them here as well. Small cage. This is one of the main reasons a hamster bites on the cage or the cage bars. They feel like they need more space or they want to evade.  Stress. Hamsters are quite anxious animals, so a lot of things can easily stress them. It can be the food, the water, the temperature, the noises and so on. You might have to investigate more to see what bothers your hamster. Teeth are growing. The hamster’s teeth are constantly growing like any other rodent, and they have to chew something. It might be the fact that they don’t have any other chewing toys, or it might simply be their favorite place to chew on. Curiosity. Yet again, they are curious animals, and more often than licking something to see what it is, they are biting it. Can you stop a hamster from licking its cage? Yes, you can temporarily stop your hamster from licking the cage, but it is not guaranteed that you will always succeed in the long-term. If the reason is the fact that they need to cool of, the solution is quite simple, you have to make to room cooler. If the lack of minerals is the problem, you should be more careful with the food you give and read on the box to make sure it contains minerals and vitamins in the appropriate amount. When it comes to being thirsty, if they use the water bottle properly and the bottle has water in it, this should not be a reason for a hamster to lick the cage. The tricky part is when they are curious, in this case all you can do is to distract them with other toys and tunnels. Make sure you put some treats, and some of their food in those toys and tunnels to ensure your hamster will want to use them. A bored hamster will lick the cage, bite the cars, climb all over the cage, and generally be frustrated. Adding enrichment items will help your hamster. But don’t expect quick results, your hamster might be stubborn and ignore your treats and keep licking the cage. However, this behavior might change in time by itself without any intervention from you, so patience might be the key in this case. Conclusion A hamster licking the cage is not an actual problem most of the time, but you better make sure that reasons 2-4 are not the problem. If your hamster is just curious, that will not put them in danger, it is just how they are, curious and anxious simultaneously. I hope this article helped you better understand your little furball’s behavior. [...] Read more...
Why Hamsters Die (Main Reasons, Some Of Them Preventable)
Why Hamsters Die (Main Reasons, Some Of Them Preventable)Hamsters can die, and it’s never pleasant news to hear your little friend passed away. But why did that happen ? Was it old age ? Was the hamster suffering from an illness or an injury ? Let’s see what the most common causes are. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters die ?When is a hamster considered old ?Health problems hamsters can commonly getDo not confuse hibernation with hypothermiaMaking sure you keep your hamster safeA word from Teddy So why do hamsters die ? Hamsters can die for a number of reasons, and it’s usually a medical condition. Even old hamsters, very old ones, pass away because their bodies simply don’t function as well as they used to, and some critical part of their body no longer works. Sometimes, hamsters can die of diseases or injuries, most of them preventable. Not all are noticeable. Or, if you do notice, you don’t figure out what the problem is until it’s too late. Knowing the usual health problems hamsters can get, and what old age looks like for hamsters will help you know when and if there is anything left to do. When is a hamster considered old ? Usually a hamster is old by the time he reaches 2 years of age. In Chinese hamsters this threshold is lower, since their average lifespan is 2 years. So they can be considered old by the time they reach their first birthday. Most hamsters live 2-3 years, and as such you’ll notice the changes happening to then when they get old fairly quickly. Sparse fur, weak legs, cataracts, a withered look about them, a distinct neck – these are all clear signs your hamster is a senior in his right. Along with old age come a host of health problems, mostly because it’s easier for them to come along. Like wet-tail for example, which can be brought on either by stress or an infection. An infection happens easier if the hamster is not clean, and a very old hamster will stop grooming himself as much. So, an old hamster who develops wet-tail has very little chances of survival, and his death could be attributed to both the disease and the old age. Old age also makes the immune system weaker, and the body weaker overall. Bones don’t mend as easily, sores don’t go away. Any injury to an old hamster is harder to heal than one to a young hamster. Health problems hamsters can commonly get Most health problems can be avoided, like infections, overgrown teeth, cuts and scrapes, injuries from falling and so on. They can also be easily treated with the help of a competent veterinarian. You will need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who will have experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds as well. Antibiotics will take care of infections. Tumors can be removed most of the time. bones can be mended, But there are some diseases or problems that can be… well, deadly. Especially so if not noticed in time and treated. Let’s go over a few of them. Wet-tail is the first to spring into mind. It’s a sort of digestive problem, with symptoms like diarrhea, excessive water drinking, loss of appetite, a sweaty/wet look, a soiled wet hamster bottom, possibly smelly cage. Can be lethal in less than a week if left untreated. If treated within 24h of developing, it can be survived. Longer than that. and the chances are lower. Even after treatment some hamsters still pass away, because they were too drained from the illness itself. It took a huge toll on their bodies and they withered away. Any sort of infection, if it’s not treated right away. By this I mean the infections filled with pus, whether it’s an infected tooth, eye, or ear. All of them can spread to the brain, and inside the body. If the hamster swallows the pus (in the case of an infected tooth or cheek) this can lead to sepsis, which too can be fatal. Lumps and tumors can be deadly as well, mostly because they can be very hard to operate on. The hamster, being so very small, has little chance of surviving anaethesia, although there have been cases. In some cases the tumor is inside the body, and removing it is sentencing the hamster to certain death, with blood loss as the main cause. The surgery would be too big of a risk, again. Chemotherapy is hard to survive even for humans, let alone for hamsters. Injuries, like a broken spine because of a nasty fall, can be deadly too. While a fall from the height of an ordinary table isn’t much for a human, it can be deadly for a hamster. Keep in mind that they’re so very small, and have a fragile frame. This means that falls from heights like your table, dresser, even just your hands while you stand up, can all lead to serious injuries and sometimes even death. Those falls can be deadly either on impact, like a fractured skull, or serious internal organ injuries, and they can also be deadly by result. Like internal bleeding, ruptured organs, and so on. It’s a terrible thought to write about, so please handle your hamster very carefully. When it comes to bedding, and textiles introduced to your hamster, be careful. The extra fluffy, puffy kind of textile sometimes found on or in hamster toys (the ones with very long fibers, like the stuffing inside teddy bears). That is dangerous for hamsters, since they will find it and stuff it in their cheeks, and use it as nesting material. While it does keep them warm, it’s also too easy for them to tangle that material in their teeth or cheeks, or get a foot stuck inside, or in some cases pretty much wrap it around their necks and suffocate. I’m sorry to paint pictures like these, but this has happened before to other hamster owners. Please keep plush and overly fluffy things far away from hamsters. As a sidenote, I have a blanket with a plush side. When I let Teddy onto the bed one day and the blanket was there, he immediately started putting it in his cheeks. They’re very fast, and you need to spot them right away to stop them. Finally, there is another reason for hamsters seeming to suddenly die. Some people have reported their hamsters being happy and healthy yesterday, only to find them lifeless this morning. Those cases, while unfortunate and traumatic, always have an explanation. Most of the time, it’s a circulatory problem. Like a blood clot forming in the brain, or a form of heart attack brought on by a scare in the middle of the night. Hamsters are very sensitive, and scaring them too hard is … well, easier than necessary. This is one reason you should not scare your hamster, or let it get too stressed. Being barked at, handled too often, dangled upside down, continuously poked and prodded and so on. These are very stressful things for a hamster, and can be the final straw in some cases. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Do not confuse hibernation with hypothermia I’ve set this one aside because it’s a common problem. Hamsters do hibernate, but only in the wild. In the wild, they have a weeks and months in advance to prepare for the cold. Gather food, get fat and have energy stored up, dig a big warm nest, get safe. They go to sleep once winter comes and they only wake up from time to time (like once a week !) to nibble on something they’ve stored up. When they wake up, the earth is thawing, they’re hungry and dehydrated. At home, in your warm house, the cold doesn’t gradually creep in over the span of a few months. It never does, because you keep your home warm. So why do some hamsters end up ‘hibernating’ ? Well, they’ve sometimes been left out in the garage for a few hours, or another such space that’s used for storage and is usually cold. Or they were maybe forgotten next to an opened window. Really, it could be any occasion with cold temperatures. The point is that the hamster will go into a sort of hibernation, but in truth it’s actually hypothermia. He did not have time to build an extra warm nest, build a protective layer of fat on his body, but he did store some food. The problem is that this is not true hibernation, and he will likely die if not woken up fast. You might think he is dead, be might be cold. He might not move at all. But a dead hamster will be rigid, like a statue. He will be cold. A hibernating hamster will be cold-ish, but his whiskers or ears might twitch if you touch them. He will be limp, that’s the first major sign he is alright. For more info on waking up a hamster from such a situation, check this article. Always, always attempt to warm him up or wake him before deciding he has passed away. There have been accounts of hamsters thrown away in the trash bin, only to be found by the garbage disposal service later, alive and kicking. Making sure you keep your hamster safe There are ways your can make sure your hamster lives a happy, healthy life. Now, although what I explained above might make you want to keep him under a glass dome, don’t do that. Instead, be a responsible hamster owner and keep him out of trouble. Let’s see what that means: Keep the hamster away from overly curious pets who might disturb him, like a cat or a puppy or even parrots or other rodents. Basically any pet that can move through the house on its own. Always supervise kids playing with the hamster. Accidents can happen, and it’s your responsibility to both teach the child and keep the hamster safe. Only handle the hamster close to his cage, and not allow more than double his height as a falling height. If you’re letting the hamster onto the floor, make sure there are no places for him to get inside or under or between pieces of furniture and be impossible to get out safely. Keep any fluffy textile or materials away from your hamster. Some are sold as nesting material. Stay away from them. Never overfeed your hamster, else he might grow obese and develop diabetes and joint problems. Be careful which foods from your fridge or pantry you feed you hamster. Some are safe, some not. Always clean his cage, once a week, a full cleaning complete with a cage wipe-down or actual rinsing on the shower. Make sure you bring your hamster to the vet, even if it might be nothing. Better to have him checked and find out he’s okay, than leave it to chance and figure out there is a problem when it’s too late. Thees are the absolute basics of keeping your hamster healthy and safe, more info can be found in the related articles below. Until then, read Teddy’s thoughts on the matter. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies are cute and cuddly, but we do pass away. That means we’re sometimes too sick, or we grow too old to fight an injury or sickness. We rely on you to spot the problem and help us out. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
Are Hamsters Blind ? The Truth About Your Hamster’s Eyesight
Are Hamsters Blind ? The Truth About Your Hamster’s EyesightA blind hamster is a bit of a myth. Or is it ? Hamsters don’t have great eyesight, but are they really blind ? I looked around, asked a few questions, and found out if hamsters can see. My Teddy was a bit of a guide here, since I compared what I found out with what I’ve seen Teddy do or how he’s reacted in the past. Here’s what I found out about hamster eyesight. Table of Contents ToggleSo are hamsters blind ?Hamsters don’t rely on their eyesA hamster has a great sense of smellHammies use their hearing for nearly everythingWhiskers and touch help hamsters ‘see’Don’t make sudden movements around your hamsterHamsters are very sensitive to light levelsA word from Teddy So are hamsters blind ? No, hamsters are not blind. They are born blind, like most animals, but they don’t stay blind. The eyesight in hamsters forms after a few days, but it never really develops very well. Hamsters have poor eyesight, but blind they are not. They won’t notice you if you just sit still, since they don’t perceive things that are farther away from their whiskers, or directly in front of them. This also means your hamster can’t judge distances or depth, at all, and he will jump from a higher level in his cage to take a shortcut, and possibly hurt himself. Or jump out of your hands, thinking the cage is just a sneeze away. Alright, so hamsters aren’t blind, but they don’t see well either. How do they navigate and survive then ? Let’s see. Hamsters don’t rely on their eyes Hamsters use their other senses much more than they use their eyes. Even if your hamster becomes blind over time, it won’t impact him very much. This is because hamsters don’t relay on seeing what’s in front of them or around them, as much as they rely on hearing and smelling their environment. If you’ve got a blind hamster, you’ll notice he’s got the cage all memorized and knows where to go and how to navigate. There might be a few things you’ll have to get out of his way that he might bump into, like toys that move (a see-saw for example) or bridges. Other than that, a blind hamster will know where his food is, where is nest is, where the water bottle is, and will recognize your voice. He might be a bit nippy, but that’s about the only change people have ever reported about hamsters that turned blind. A hamster has a great sense of smell Hamsters use their smell for lots of things. Even if they don’t see very well, hamsters can still ‘see’ their surroundings. Us humans don’t rely on smell too much, but hamsters do. Your hammy knows your scent, knows the smell of the house, and doesn’t like air fresheners too much. This means that any strong smell will be overwhelming for your hamster. Like perfume, for example, which can be way too strong for his sensitive little nose. If you’re handling your hamster you should wash your hands before. Depending on what you’ve done before, he might not like the smell and bite, or me might love the smell and try to… well, eat your hand. My girlfriend touched some cooked chicken once, wiped her hands on a towel, and went to pet the hamster. Teddy smelled the chicken and chomped down on her finger, and she’s been afraid of him ever since. Best to avoid that, and wash your hands. Do be careful to use non-perfumed, anti-bacterial soap. An overly floral or fruity soap might have the opposite effect and make your hamster think you’ve really got mango and coconut on your hands. Conversely, hamsters absolutely hate citrus. Teddy shies away from my hand after I’ve peeled any kind of citrus. Even after I wash my hands. He just can’t stand the smell. Hammies use their hearing for nearly everything Hearing is what hamsters use most in the wild to figure out if there’s predators around or not. Have you ever seen your hammy just freeze in place, with this focused, intense look on his furry face ? He’s listening. Veeery very carefully, who knows when a fox might jump through the window to get him. Jokes aside, it’s funny with pet hamsters, but a life-saving trait for wild hamsters. There’s no fox or owl or snake trying to get to your pet hamster, but in the wild, his predators might be just around the corner. They make sounds, even when they’re trying to be sneaky. Your hamster knows those sounds. Hammies need some time to learn every sound in the house in order to feel comfortable and not panic at every floorboard creaking. After a while they’ll stop freezing as often, and be more relaxed. They are hamsters, however, and won’t really ever relax. Hamsters are sensitive to sound, but not the way you’d think. Loud noises are not comfortable for their ears, but don’t phase them much. They’re a bit stressful, but they know what’s going on. So for example in a fireworks display it’s not the loud noises that scare them, but the bright, sudden lights. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Whiskers and touch help hamsters ‘see’ Alright, so your hamster’s got superhearing and dog-level smell. He’s also got ‘the touch’. I mean he sees with his little paws, and his whiskers. In the wild the hamster’s many tunnels are pitch black and winding, so he has to be able to navigate them somehow. The tunnels don’t hum, and they don’t smell, so he has to see with his paws and whiskers. This also applies to his cage, plus the fact that he knows where everything is because he’s memorized it. One of the reasons changing up his habitat is a bad idea. Hamsters don’t like change. When it comes to touch, he’s also sensitive to vibrations. He can sense them both in his paws and his whiskers too. Even if you got out of bed very quietly, and made sure to not turn on the light or step wrong, he still knows you’re up. You every move is a small vibration, and he can sense that. Not in a weird way, it’s just his super-sensitive sense of touch. For example my Teddy keeps sleeping if I just rummage in the room he’s in. But once I speak towards his cage, or stand there for a few minutes, he comes out. He just knows I’m there. Don’t make sudden movements around your hamster If you were sitting down and you suddenly move, chances are your hamster only just noticed you were there. And panicked. Hammies are not very bright, and they’re very easy to scare unfortunately. This means that even if you’re not trying to scare your hamster, you probably still did. Some hammies are extra jumpy and panicky, and will scamper away if they see or hear anything new. But, you can make sure you don’t scare your hamster friend by not moving suddenly. That means that if you’ve got business around his cage, move a bit slower than usual. Try not to turn around too fast, and make your movements slower, deliberate. Another thing that helps is to talk to your hamster while you’re near his cage, so he knows your general position. Hamsters are very sensitive to light levels The final warning about a hamster’s poor eyesight, sunlight hurts his eyes. The light is much too harsh for him, and actually painful. You see hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means their eyes simply can’t handle the amount of light in the daytime. Unlike cats or humans who can regulate how much light enters their eyes, hamster eyes are not as adaptable. Their pupils do adjust, but not by much. This means that the best time for a hamster to use his limited eyesight is dawn and dusk. The light levels are low enough that his eyes don’t hurt, but high enough that he can see. That being said, hamsters have very poor eyesight, even at night. But they don’t necessarily need the light on, or a nightlight at that. Just think of your hamster as your cute, fluffy, incredibly near-sighted friend who lost his glasses. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can be a bit clumsy at times, and we don’t see very well, no. However we’re not blind. We can become blind with old age, or an illness, so we rely on you to help us there. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the related articles below to get more info on how to best care for us. [...] Read more...