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Need advice on my new dwarf hamster!

Discussion in 'Small Animal Chat' started by Rachel_Louise5, Apr 9, 2020.


  1. Rachel_Louise5

    Rachel_Louise5 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    i’m new to this site but hoping this post will find some of you with more expertise than myself. Last Monday (9 days ago) I got a male winter white dwarf hamster - this is the second time i’ve had one of this kind. I know it’s very early days and i’m probably worrying about nothing, but the way he acts sometimes seems odd to me. He seems to have gotten to know me, eg he will come and press his nose up to my finger through the bars when he sees me come near (without biting) and he seems to know what kind of time i’ll feed him every day as he always awakes at this time. He even takes a treat from my hand without biting me. However on the couple of occasions that i’ve tried to get him out of the cage to run around in his playground/to be held, he won’t climb out or simply into my hand, even with the temptation of a treat, despite appearing eager to leave the cage (eg running up to the door when he hears it opening). I’m keen for him to get out the cage to get some exercise as he has tons of energy and doesn’t seem to have discovered his exercise wheel (even though i’m confident it’s a suitable size for him, he’s only small!). I don’t remember having this issue with my last hamster although she was female and much younger when i got her, stitch (the new hamster) is around 18 weeks and i’m wondering if that could be making a difference.

    I understand from reading other posts on here that some hamsters simply don’t like to be held - which could make sense as he seems happy enough once he is out and in a playground (i had to get him out via a tube so i could clean the cage) - but i is would love to be confident he is comfortable with me holding him.

    Mainly i’m looking for 1. any reassurance that him not wanting to be held now doesn’t mean he’ll never want to be 2. advice on how to get him to use his wheel, as i think that would burn off a lot of his energy 3. other ways to tempt him into my hand than simply holding a treat? he will come and sniff my hand, take the treat and doesn’t bite me which i suppose is a good thing but i wish he would stay there longer.

    Thanks everyone :) x
    (sorry if this was very rambly and didn’t make complete sense! happy to clarify anything below)
     
  2. Susanna11

    Susanna11 PetForums Junior

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    This all sounds quite normal. It is correct that many hamsters enjoy human company, but don't like being held. Human hands are hot and damp to hamsters, and can be uncomfortable. New hamsters also often like to keep a bit of control on their side. When they're out of your hand, they can always run away, but when in your hand they're not so free, which is scary for them.

    It's quite possible that when he trusts you enough he will hop onto your hand, so keep trying. One thing that might help is, rather than holding a treat between your fingers, put the treat on the end of your fingers and hold your hand out to him. Hopefully he will come up and take the treat. Then you can gradually move the treat further up your hand, until it is in your palm and he has to step onto your hand to get it.

    Keep taking him out of the cage for exercise if he enjoys it, but use a jar/tube/mug to pick him up in so that he doesn't associate the positive experience of out of cage time with the negative experience of being picked up.

    How big is his wheel? A wheel for a winter white dwarf should be 8 inches or 20cm. It's essential that his back is straight when he runs, Sometimes a hamster will have a straight back on a smaller wheel, but it may not be very comfortable for them, so 8 inches is advised. Also make sure the wheel runs smoothly and isn't too heavy for him to turn. He may be using the wheel when nobody's around to see. You can see if this is the case by putting something (a bit of bedding or a treat) on top of the wheel, and seeing if it is gone by morning.
     
  3. Rachel_Louise5

    Rachel_Louise5 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks so much for replying, we have actually made some slight progress since I posted that in a panic a couple of nights ago

    He now seems to have discovered his wheel, which is about 18cm i think although hard for me to measure due to where it’s positioned in the cage. He is very small and seems to fit nicely in there. He seems to love the wheel now which is great as he’s stopped chewing on the bars at the top of his cage since discovering this, so it must be doing the job of burning some of his energy off.

    I did actually try what you suggested last night about holding the treat in my hand rather than out to him. He climbed out his cage, sniffed my hand, grabbed the treat then took it straight back into his cage to eat it in there!! (Very cheeky of him) So although he didn’t climb onto my hand to eat it, this still feels like progress as he didn’t bite me or anything

    The only frustrating thing is that when I hold my hand just outside the cage for him to climb into, so that I can move him into a larger play area for him to run around in, he seems interested in climbing out and will start to then he quickly retracts back into his cage, so I have been using the tube method to transport him. I’m sure we’ll get there in time and as you say, I should just accept that some hamsters don’t like to be handled and not worry about it. I will keep trying though. Thanks again for the fab response
     
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