HANDLING YOUR HAMSTER
When you purchase a hamster always make sure that whoever is selling it, handles it. Never buy a hamster that has been chased into a box or has been caught by someone wearing gloves so that you are the first person to touch it. When you get your newly acquired hamster home, place the cage in its intended position, avoiding draughts and direct sunlight. Leave overnight for the hamster to settle down and get used to its new surroundings. Talking quietly to your hamster will help it get used to your voice.
Always approach the hamster gently with no sudden movements, so as not to scare it. If it is asleep, gently tap the cage or nest to wake it up, and let it walk out of its nest. Never just grab the hamster while it is asleep in its nest. You will startle it and it might bite you in fear.
For the first few times it might be better to remove the top part of the cage, if possible, so you can pick up your hamster more easily without having to chase it around the cage. It is a good idea to place the cage inside a large box first, so that when you lift the top off the cage the hamster cannot run away.
You can pick up your hamster by placing one hand firmly but gently around its body, with its head pointing towards your wrist and placing it immediately into the palm of your other hand or you may wish to cup both hands together and lift your hamster up. Either way is suitable, use whichever you find the easiest.
Lift the hamster gently just a few inches from the cage, then, if it should jump out of your hands it will not fall and hurt itself. Speak gently and quietly as you handle your hamster and stroke it gently, avoid touching its head. If it struggles to escape your grasp, never tighten your grip as you may hurt it and again it may bite.
Therefore, if it struggles place it back down and a few seconds later try and pick it up again. Repeat this process until it feels more secure in your hand. Once it knows that you are not going to hurt it and you both become more confident you will find your hamster waiting to come out to be handled. They also like to sit on your arm held close to your body and cupped with the other hand; it makes them feel safe and secure.
It is a good idea not to give your hamster a house for the first few weeks as this can make encouraging the hamster out more difficult. Once the hamster comes to your voice the house can be introduced should you so wish.
One rule to remember is always making sure your hands are clean before handling your hamster. They cannot see very well and rely on their sense of smell, so if you have been eating anything nice such as sweets etc., it may take a nibble of your finger thinking it is something nice to eat!
Finally as a matter of hygiene always wash your hands again once you have finished handling your hamster.
© National Hamster Council -