Hamsters are pretty popular pets for children and adults that want a pet but don’t want the mess and responsibility of a cat or dog. They are cute and easy to pick up, even with smaller hands. If you think about it, however, you realize that being picked up is probably pretty scary to a creature that’s so small.
That’s probably why hamsters don’t like being held. Hamsters also don’t like being petted and held by different people. In fact, you should limit who you let hold your hamster and even limit how much you hold your pet yourself.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about hamsters and why they don’t like to be held below.
Can I Ever Hold My Hamster?
We aren’t saying that you can’t ever hold your hamster. However, this is a process that needs to be taken slowly. Never chase your hamster around the cage to try and pick him up. If the hamster is running from you, it clearly doesn’t want you to hold it.
You need to build trust and a bond with your tiny furry pet, just as you would with any animal. It takes patience, time, and a whole lot of love for an animal to trust you enough to hold it, and hamsters are no exception.
Which Hamsters Like to be Held?
No matter which kind of hamster you choose to purchase for a pet, they’re all going to have to get to trust you before they are used to being held. A few types of hamsters can tolerate being held better than others. We’ll talk about those below.
The Chinese hamster is a beautiful creature and smaller than others on our list. While they tend to like being around their owners, they get bored easily.
The Syrian hamster is large, certainly larger than the Chinese hamster, and is a strong animal. They are easy to handle and will get used to you faster than many other hamsters. It’s not recommended to put this hamster in a cage with another hamster since they’re territorial.
The Dwarf hamster is the smallest of the group and is not the best pet for children primarily because of their size. It also requires a lot of patience and hard work to begin forming a bond with the Dwarf hamster.
It’s important to note here that some hamsters are extremely independent and never forge a bond with their pet parents. Hamsters are prey animals, and it’s instinctual for them to try and get away when someone grabs them.
Can You Train Your Hamster to Like Being Held?
Some hamsters get used to being held faster than others, and some never do. There are a few things you can do to get your hamster used to being held, however.
Any hamster is going to be skittish around you at first. You need to start small when trying to pick the hamster up to be held. It’s also best to keep children from picking up their new pet until he becomes a bit more comfortable with his surroundings.
Aside from his normal meals, feed your hamster bits of food through the bars of his cage. Do this slowly so as not to startle the hamster. Soon your hamster will start to associate your smell and your voice with food and become a bit more trusting.
Once this happens, you can start putting your hand in the cage and petting the hamster. If he runs away, leave him alone, and try again another day. The best way to get the hamster used to your hand is by holding a treat. Hold the treat in the palm of your hand and let the hamster get used to your hand being in the cage.
Gradually Lift the Hamster Off the Ground
Once you’ve completed the steps above, gradually and gently lift the hamster off the floor of his cage by an inch or two. Don’t just grab the hamster and pick him up; instead, place both palms up in the cage and gently lift him once he climbs onto your hands. If the hamster becomes scared, lower him back into the cage and try another time.
Make sure you only do this once a day until the hamster gets used to being held this way.
Pick Him Up with Cupped Hands
Once your hamster seems comfortable being lifted off the ground, cup your hands and pick him up higher. Let him walk around on your hands, keeping him close enough to the ground so he can’t get hurt if he jumps.
Depending on the hamster, this could take a few days or several weeks, as some tame faster than others. Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to walk around with your hamster crawling on your shoulder. Hamsters are skittish creatures, to begin with, so you’re going to have to be very careful and patient if you want your hamster to let you hold him in the future.
Hamsters need to trust and bond with their pet parents before being held. In reality, however, only some hamsters will want to be held. Many want to be left alone to wander their cages, eat, and sleep.
While you can take steps to get your hamster used to being held, these take a bit of time, and you need to be patient and loving. Eventually, your pet will grow used to your presence and recognize your role as a food provider. When it’s comfortable around you, you can try picking him up.
Featured Image Credit: Attila Bódis, Pixabay