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How to Train a Hamster to Be Tame (7 Proven Methods)

Nicole Cosgrove

Bringing home your hamster and introducing them to their new forever home is super exciting. You handpicked this little guy or girl and you’re ready to add them into the family. While this is a fabulous time for you, your hamster is going to feel a lot of different emotions at first.

Their entire environment is about to change, and they will be experiencing things that they never have before. It’s tempting to pick them up out of the cage and snuggle them silly, but you must remember that these animals need time to warm up to the situation.

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All About Pet Hamsters

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Image Credit: SgH, Pixabay

Hamsters are incredibly popular when it comes to small pets. It’s easy to be smitten by their adorable looks and timid personalities. These little guys need plenty of exercise, time, and attention to be fantastic pets.

Some of the most popular breeds of hamster to keep as pets are:

  • Dwarf Hamstersthese little guys are the smallest of all the hamsters you can find. There are all sorts of varieties to choose from. They tend to be friendly and easy to handle.
  • Teddy Bear Hamster—these hamsters are larger than others with sweet expressions and curious demeanors.
  • Chinese Hamster—These hamsters are tiny with big personalities. They tend to be attentive and attached to their handlers.
  • Syrian Hamster—Syrian hamsters are a bit more active than others. They need adequate exercise and toys to occupy their energy.

Hamsters generally live between 2-6 years in captivity.

1. Let Your Hamster Get Used to Their Environment

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Image Credit: Piqsels

Setting up your hamster’s cage before they arrive is essential. Make sure to do your research to choose the appropriate cage, bedding, food, and all of the necessary supplies. The cozier your little guy can be when they come home, the easier it will be for them to adapt.

It’s best for the first few days to take a more hands-off approach to the situation, letting them sniff around and get comfortable in their new home.

Aside from having a safe cage, make sure also to give them a hideout or two. Hamsters love to borrow and stay out of sight. So, if you give them a nice little hut to call home, they can take cover when they are a little unsure about what’s going on.


2. Be Around Your Hamster Without Touching It

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Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Take every opportunity you can to go up to your hamster’s cage and talk to them through the bars. Don’t unlatch the cage or touch them—simply let them get used to the sound of your voice. In a chaos-free environment, use calm, soothing tones to ease any nervousness.

As they get familiar with your voice, you may notice a wiggly little nose popping out of its hide when they hear your voice. That is a great sign that they are starting to get curious about what that voice is.

Try to make sure that they’re in a room where it’s peaceful for most of the day. Noise is inevitable. But having them in a very busy room can make things harder. If they’re in a brand-new environment with a ton of commotion going on, it’s going to make them feel very unsure.


3. Reach Your Hand Into the Cage Without Picking Up the Hamster

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Image Credit: Cindy Parks, Pixabay

Once you notice that your hamster is relaxing a little bit, you can stick your hand inside of the cage and invite them up to see you. When you open the cage to put your hand in, make sure you do everything very quietly and slowly, so you don’t spook them.

Some more social hamsters might even come up and give your fingers to give you nibbles or sniffs. That is a big indicator that they are finally starting to warm up. This action helps them get used to your scent, so they familiarize themselves with you as a person.


4. Hand Feed Your Hamster

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Image Credit: Cindy Parks, Pixabay

Hamsters are little hoarders, and they absolutely love snacks. Once you’ve taken the time out to let them get used to your hands being inside of their cage, start putting hamster treats out for them to investigate. Your hamster might snatch it out of your hand and quickly hide it away somewhere.

They are probably starting to think this is a pretty good deal. This big giant with a pleasant voice that comes to see you is now giving you lots of goodies. You’re one step closer to gaining a friend.


5. Pick Up Your Hamster

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ImageCredirt: Attila Bódis, Pixabay

After filling their tummies full of deliciousness, it might be time to try to pick them up. When you try to hold them for the first time, make sure that you cradle them so they don’t feel insecure with the movement.

Keep them close to your body, as hamsters have depth perception. If they’re not entirely sure what’s going on, being high up in the air with no support can make them feel pretty scared. Cup your hands and gently keep them safe inside until they’re feeling a little braver.

If you have a shirt or a hoodie, you can even put them inside, so they feel protected and safe. Putting them inside of a piece of clothing also helps them recognize your familiar scent. Try not to entice too much playfulness at this stage because they’re still getting used to having you around.


6. Spend Time With Your Hamster Daily

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Image Credit: Ikiwaner, Wikimedia

It is especially essential and the first several weeks to never skip a day interacting with your hamster. Since they are very small, they do have short memories. They won’t tame down as quickly if you aren’t constantly interacting with them.

Create a play routine and stick to it. Always make sure to get them out of their cage and hold them for at least 15 minutes a day. You can increase it anytime. Make sure to supervise any floor time closely. These guys are tiny, fast, and adventurous.

On the opposite side of the coin, you can handle a hamster too much. They need their space, too. To reduce stress, try to time outings.


7. Let Them Out to Explore

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Image Credit: NanaSod, Pixabay

Once they are completely comfortable with you, it’s time to start letting them play. You can get hamster-appropriate exercise balls so they can run around the house freely without the risk of scurrying off or getting injured.

You can also buy playpens made for rodents so they can safely run around. Hamsters love having little mazes and activities to do. You can sit in the enclosure with your hamster, allowing them to run around at their leisure and get a little bit of exercise.

You’ll find your hamster running up to you to see what you’re up to when they take a break from exploring.

Other Tips

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re interacting with your hamsters.

  • Wash Your Hands

Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after you hold your hamster. You might have food on your hands, which can cause accidental bites. Hamster bites are no joke! If they try to snatch your finger thinking it’s a snack, it can definitely draw blood.

Since hamsters live in an area where they also use the bathroom, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands afterward as a preventive. While hamsters don’t often carry many lethal diseases, they can have salmonella and E. coli in their poop.

If bacteria comes in contact with your hands, there’s a chance of it getting into your mouth. The sicknesses are pretty severe and can leave you feeling very ill. It’s always best to be safe than sorry.

  • Respect Your Hamster’s Boundaries

Your hamster is an individual creature with its own personality. It will take some of them longer to warm up than others. Some of them might always be timid or shy, while others will be outgoing and ready for play.

If your hamster is taking longer to get used to you, don’t try to force the process. They might never reach the level of comfort you want. Always make sure to respect your hamster and their body language. If they don’t wish to be handled at the moment, give them their space.

  • Maintain Your Hamster’s Environment

Your hamster needs to be happy and cozy in its own space. If you offer lots of toys, mazes, exercise stations, and sleeping spots in their cage, they will have a better life quality.

  • When Considering Multiple Hamsters

Many hamsters prefer to live alone. However, dwarf hamsters can live in same-sex pairs (if they accept each other.) Don’t ever have male and female hamsters together, as they reproduce very quickly.

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Taming Your Hamster: Final Thoughts

If you follow these steps and tips, you will have a well-socialized, confident hamster that will bond well with you. Even though each hamster will react differently to handling, they will get used to you in time. Some might even come up to the cage and demand snuggles.

Regardless of the type of hamster you have, you can form your own relationship by offering patience, affection, and respect.


Featured Image Credit: Sandra Cheng, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.