Hamster Behaviour & Training Tips

Understanding your hamster’s behaviours can help you get to know them better and build a great bond.

Understanding hamster behaviours

Understanding your hamster’s behaviour is vital to making sure you keep them happy and healthy – and have lots of fun together! Their behaviour depends on their breed:

Dwarf hamsters

Dwarf hamsters can make great pets. but, because they’re so tiny and fast, they suit older children best. They’re inquisitive, gentle-natured and very energetic. Good things come in little packages, they say; spot on for Dwarf hamsters. Dwarf Hamsters are crepuscular, most active at dusk, so they’ll spend most of the day sleeping. But in the evening and at night, get ready – and let the fun begin.

Syrian hamsters

A Syrian hamster makes a great pet for children and adults. They’re inquisitive, gentle-natured and very energetic. They’re also crepuscular, most active at dusk, so they’ll spend most of the day sleeping. But in the evening and at night: the fun begins.

Taming your hamster

Taming requires time and patience. Don’t rush through the steps, and take time to get to know your hamster and respond to its cues. The key here is to earn your hamsters trust, so it can be sure that it has no reason to be afraid of you. Remember, if you push your hamster too far, too fast, it will be stressed. This will make it harder for you to earn its trust. Be sure your hamster is not stressed by any of these steps before moving on to the next one:

Step one: allow your hamster time to become comfortable in his or her new environment. Signs include your hamster eating, drinking, exploring and playing when you are present.

Step two: spend more time around your hamster’s cage and quietly talk to it to get it used to your voice. Don’t know what to say? Try reading a book out loud or singing softly to your hamster!

Step three: offer some favourite treats by hand. Start by offering treats through the bars of the cage if you have a wire cage, otherwise just offer them right at the edge of the cage door. Once your hamster scurries over for treats, try putting your hand just inside the cage. Don’t try to touch your hamster — let it come over to explore your hand.

Step four: place the treat on your open hand inside the cage, so that your hamster has to reach onto your hand, and perhaps place a paw or two onto your hand to get the treat. Again, don’t force it — let your hamster come to you.

Step five: place the treat so that your hamster has to climb on your hand to get the treat. Once your hamster is bravely doing this try to gently scoop up your hamster and lift him or her up within the cage. The first few times your hamster will likely jump right off, but just be gentle and persistent, and eventually your hamster will realise your hands are safe.

The amount of time this takes depends on the age of the hamster and its personality and previous experiences. Your hamster may quickly accept being picked up, or it may take a month or more.

Can hamsters be aggressive?

Well socialised, tame hamsters can be cuddly, friendly pets. It is unusual for a hamster to bite, but when it does it’s normally for a good reason. Your hamster could feel scared or threatened. Making sure you follow the steps to bonding with your hamster will help keep the bond between you strong.

Quick tip

Your hamster should be kept in a large, clean cage in a quiet place indoors.
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Did you know?

Hamsters don’t have very good eyesight, they are short-sighted so they rely on their senses to find their way around.

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If you should have any concerns about the health of your pet, always consult a vet.