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Which of the following best describes how you felt when you got your first small animal pet?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Hamster Taming Tips

By Catya
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.

Molly, a Roborovski hamster
Photos Courtesy of Catya
Molly, a Roborovski hamster, became tamer during bathtub sessions.
Clare, a white-faced Roborovski hamster
Clare, a white-faced Roborovski hamster, enjoys bathtub time with Catya.

It was wonderful to hear what all of you had to say about your first hamsters! There’s definitely something special about that experience, and it’s always nice to see how fondly hamster owners remember their first hamster.

I’ve had lots of people ask me questions about taming their hamsters, or wonder why their hamster isn’t as friendly as they would hope. I’ve heard stories of hamsters that would constantly squirm and struggle to escape when handled, or even bite. This can happen for several reasons but, most likely, it’s fear. That’s why it’s important to make sure your hamster is totally comfortable with you. Once a hamster becomes familiar with people, its life becomes less stressful and it will be happier.

There are different ways to tame your hamster. My favorite is the “bathtub method.” This works really well with dwarf hamsters, because they are faster and harder to catch than Syrian hamsters. When I have a taming session with my dwarves, I set up the bathtub as a play area for them. First, I make sure that it’s dry and the drain is blocked so hamsters won’t be tempted to explore it. It’s also important to make sure that there are no towels draped over the side of the tub or any other escape routes.

Then I set up toys and hiding places for the hamsters. It’s good to use some toys from their house, because the familiar smell makes the hamsters feel safer.  I also like to hide seeds or treats in the tub – the hamsters always love going on a scavenger hunt! Next, it’s time to get a hamster. Work with one hamster at a time. If the hamster is still skittish, carry it in a mug or tube. Put the object in the cage, wait until the hamster goes inside, and then cover the exits with your hands. When you sit down in the tub, be sure to watch out for your furry pal!

This is my favorite part! You get to spend time with your hamster sitting in the tub, without worrying about it scurrying away. If you’re just beginning to tame your hamster, start slowly – let it get used to your smell and the sound of your voice. Although hamsters don’t speak “human,” they like to hear the sound of a familiar voice. You can hold a tempting snack, like fresh vegetables – maybe your hamster will eat it out of your hands! Eventually, your hamster should enjoy playing with you, sitting in your hands and maybe your lap.

After 20 minutes, it’s time for your friend to go back home. You can do this once a day, but you don’t have to do it more than once a week for it to work well. Once your hamster is used to you, it will be friendlier and happier, and you’ll both enjoy your time together more!

How about you? What’s your favorite way to play with your hamster? Did you ever have a really mellow hamster, and how did you tame them? 
 
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Great blog! I wonder, do hamsters respond to treat-based training like other animals?
Moira, Phelan, CA
Posted: 6/13/2008 8:14:13 PM
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