If you’ve got a hammy you might be wondering if he likes being held. I wondered the same thing about my teddy, and I’m here to help you better understand your hammy’s need for affection and touch.
We’ll talk about whether hammies like being held, how to train them to be comfortable with your hands, and a bit about their personalities in general.
So do hamsters like being held ?
This is not a straight answer. The short answer would be yes, but there are many things that must happen before your hamster is okay with you holding him.
Hamsters are prey animals, and as such are not comfy with being picked up. They’ll have an instinct of pulling away, or trying to escape.
The key is making your hamster comfortable enough with you that he will allow you to pick him up. Once he is comfy with you, he does indeed like your touch.
Hamsters can bond with their owners, though not all hammies do this. There are many personality aspects that need to be taken into account, and we’ll get right to it.
Also keep in mind that once you’ve tamed your hamster, you’ll need to constantly handle him. Otherwise the bond can grow cold, and your hamster will need to be tamed again.
About your furry friend’s personality and habits
Let’s look at what the hamster goes through in the wild, so we can understand the pet hamster. After all, there isn’t much difference between wild hamsters and pet hamsters.
They’ve only been with us for about a century so far, and rodents aren’t as easy to domesticate as dogs for example.
In the wild a hamster will pretty much run for his life, all his life. He is hunted by almost every other animal that’s larger than him.
That being said, hammies have an instinct of being afraid of everything, and will run away or jump off if they feel threatened.
Aside from all that, hamsters are solitary animals. Yes, some types of hamsters can live together, but only under certain conditions. They must be the exact same hamster type, siblings, never separated, and carefully watched.
Even then, tensions come up, one is dominant, and sometimes bullying and fighting ensues. Best to keep them separated, even the Dwarf types.
Now imagine a slightly grumpy, panicky, small animal, who likes being left alone, being comfy with two hands bigger than his own body picking him up.
Even your first reaction would be to panic. Still, it’s possible to get your hamster to be comfortable with your big, human hands. It takes a lot of patience and consistency, but it’s totally doable.
Important note, though:
Even after you’ve made every effort to make your hammy comfortable, his personality is key here.
If he’s a very independent, active hamster, he wont stay put. No matter how hard you try, your hamster can possibly be one of the independent types who would rather you put them down.
Respect your hamster’s personality, and don’t force him into anything.
My Teddy is like this. I’ve tried and tried again, with every trick and bribery I know, to get him to stay. He won’t stay in my hands for more than a few seconds at a time. There’s always something more interesting he has to see, and he’s just itching to go.
He’s barely ever bitten me to let him go, and I doubt he’s stressed when I pick him up. He won’t come up on my hand, but he won’t object to me picking him up either. Bribing him with a bit of food works wonders though.
Still, he’s a hamster of his own, and I love him the way he is. I’ve learned that not all hamsters are cuddly, and mine’s great just the way he is.
Training your hamster to be comfortable with being held
Whether your hamster will actually stay put in your hands or not, you can still train him. Hamsters are skittish, jumpy furballs, so of course they won’t stay for very long. Still, some might stay put in your hands.
But in order for them to stay put, they first need to know your hand is a safe place, and they’re okay there.
So let’s go through a few quick steps. This is part of the taming process, and you can find more info on taming your hamster here.
Do keep in mind that the hamster can be tamed in a few days or a few weeks. It varies from hamster to hamster, and you need to give him time.
Start small, but be consistent and patient with your hamster
A hamster is a skittish at first, and he won’t trust you. This is why you need to start slow, and feed him bits of food through the cage bars at first. This is aside from his usual meals.
Your hammy will come to know your scent, and your voice, and associate them with food.
When the hamster is okay with your smell, you can start putting your hand in the hammy’s cage. Have a treat on your hand, and he will come close. He might not have the courage to touch you and get the food, but he will come close.
Keep doing this until the hamster eventually touches your hand to reach the food. Keep things like that for a couple of days.
Then you can place both hands inside the hamster’s cage. Place a bit of food on the hand farthest away from the hamster. This will make the hammy have to walk over the first hand to get to the food, and thus get used to being in both hands.
Once your hamster is okay with all of these steps, you can move on to the next one.
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Graduate to lifting the hamster off the ground for a inch or so
Once your hammy is okay with you, and your hands, you can place both hands on the floor of the cage and once he’s on them, lift them gently and slowly.
Not much, just by an inch/2-3 cm or so. The lifting will possibly scare the hamster, so you might have to practice this for a longer time.
Always keep the hamster off the ground only for a short amount of time, like 2-3 seconds. Once he’s okay with being held above the ground, you can practice cupping your hands over him.
Again, only life the hammy an inch off the cage floor, and use the second hand to sort of cup/hold the hammy. Then put him back down after a couple of seconds.
Your hamster need to get accustomed to being held, with both hands, and off the ground.
Pick him up with cupped hands when you think he’s okay with it
Once your hamster is okay with being held in cupped hands an inch of the ground, you can pick him up higher.
This is probably a few days or weeks into his taming. So do not expect quick results. Once the hammy is okay with being picked up like this, he’s pretty much tamed.
He might want to walk around, so you can use your hands as mobile platforms for him to walk on. Only do this very close to his cage, or right above his cage, in case the hamster jumps.
Having a bit of food nearby to feed him while he’s in your hand is going to help him relax some more.
Hamsters and affection – do they like it ?
Alright, now your hamster’s tamed and can stay in your hands. At least for a few seconds. But does he like it ? Does he see it as a form of affection ?
Well, yes, he does like affection. He’s not against it, but hamsters don’t show affection like most pets – cats and dogs for example. They’re not overly friendly or cuddly, and won’t seek you out for a hug.
That being said hamsters that have bonded with their owners do like it when they’re cuddled. Any other hamster might find it as too touchy-feely.
You can find out much more about whether hamsters like human affection here. And you’ll also find out a bit more about a hamster’s way of building relationships, and how he views other creatures, including you.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hamsters do a lot of running around, but we do like being held by the person we trust. Only after a lot of taming though.
If you want to know more about us hammies, you can read the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe.