Hamsters don't bite for fun, and they don't do it out of malice. They bite when they’re scared, stressed, or a bit confused. If you've been bitten by your pet, don't take it personally. There’s almost certainly a reason for the behavior, and the likeliest scenarios are that you haven't hand-trained him yet, or that he's frightened of something else - an object, another pet, or a noise, perhaps - and therefore super-defensive.
The hamster could also be in pain, or he might have mistaken your finger for some food - especially if you've been handling food and haven't washed your hands thoroughly.
A scared hamster will bite first, and won't even bother asking questions later! A bite is his only real defence
A Hamster's Sense of Smell
Once the hamster is used to the odors of his new home - including the ones associated with you and everyone else in the household - he will begin to relax. Hand-training a hamster is largely about getting him used to the sensation and scent of your hand. That nose may by small, but it has a very powerful sense of smell!
Training Your Hamster Not To Bite
The hamster's dilemma of 'to bite or not to bite?' is not down to chance. It's all about when and how to handle your pet. Knowing this will increase your confidence. Follow these simple steps, and there will be no biting, simple as that.
- If your hamster is not yet hand-trained, wear strong gloves when you handle him. That way, any little bite he gives you if he becomes startled won't penetrate the flesh.
- Avoid picking up the hamster in the first week of ownership unless you absolutely have to (to examine him for signs of illness, for example). Start the hand-training in the second week.
- Hand-train your pet at his own pace. Let him come to you to sniff and explore.
- Carry out the hand-training - which you can also view as an anti-biting training session - in the evening when your pet is at his liveliest. Try to fit in two or three handling sessions a day, and try to stick to the same time each evening.
- Make sure there are no other pets, noisy kids, or other possible sources of stress in the vicinity.
- Speak gently to your pet during the training - that way he'll come to identify your voice with the gentle play sessions, and you will then be able to use that reassuring voice whenever you want to pick him up or stroke him.
- Wash your hands before each hand-training session. You want to avoid smelling of food or anything else that's not the real, unadulterated 'you'.
- Offer treats as you train, to encourage the hamster, and hold these in plain view rather than concealed, so that he realizes it's not simply an edible part of your hand!
- Be gentle, be patient with the progress, and avoid sudden, fast movements that might startle him. After two weeks the hamster should be happy and confident enough to approach your hand when you offer it, and hop on board - with no biting.
- If the hamster struggles in your hands, he's had enough. Gently set him back on the floor of his enclosure.
- If you offer your hands and the hamster doesn't approach, don't try to force him. He's not in the mood.
- If the hamster is asleep, don't wake him up. Like you, he won't be in the best of moods if he's been woken up prematurely!