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Old 10-09-2020, 10:41 AM  
Space Hamster
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 13
Unhappy Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

Hello hamster friends, hope you are all well <3

After a long time we have finally got a new hamster friend! Our little chap is a Syrian, still awaiting a name as we'd like to get to know him a bit first but our problem is...we hardly ever see him! He is in a Savic Hamster Heaven (minus the awful tubes and penthouse, just 1 solid shelf installed inside; other toys include bendy bridges, wicker tube, igloo, puzzle playground, various chews, trixie wheel) with a nice deep bedding of Kaytee Clean & Cozy. His cage is in a room where I spend lots of him, so he should hear and smell me during the day. I've been giving him human-scented tissue, but he isn't taking it to help build his nest; he's tunneled into the bedding and made his own burrow system.

Things were good to start with. We left him to his own devices for a few days to settle in. He was out and about in his cage in the evening, finding his wheel and running on it, having a look around his cage. I began sitting and talking to him when I saw him around. We then moved on to offering treats which he took with barely any hesitation, then stroking him gently whilst he was eating, then luring him on to a hand to sit and eat. There were a few small hiccups along the way of course e.g. him chomping my finger to see if it was more food, making me jump, which then made him jump or moving and accidentally spooking him, but nothing drastic.

We then had an 'unsuccessful' evening where he was not really interested in taking food form me and using his wheel to 'run away.' I wondered if maybe I'd pushed a little too far too fast and decided to ease off for a couple of days, let him settle in more, then start from the beginning again.

Trouble is, seeing him out and about during human waking hours is becoming rarer and rarer. I don't even see or hear him get up to drink! We had one great evening where he was up, so we managed to convince him to walk into a jar and set up some 'bathtub bonding' which went fine, apart from I was a bit stiff after sitting in there! The next evening it was quite late before I saw him, but since I was ready for bed I got him in the jar and transferred him to the inside of my dressing gown; my previous hamsters have all loved going round and round in there and playing tunnels up and down the sleeves, and our new chap seemed quite happy with this. I thought it might also help get him used to my human smell. We then played 'pass the hamster' back and forth a few times before popping him back home, and he was happy to be handled - just didn't like being picked up yet.

Since then...I haven't seen him awake of an evening since! He's now keeping really late hours, and there's no way I can stay up waiting for him. I tried to encourage him out last night, but he didn't want to know. I had his cage in my bedroom last night to see if he really was getting up and about. I listened to him running on his wheel and digging in his corner potty around 12:30pm-1am then I had to move him back to the other room so I could get some sleep

If he turns out not to be a very sociable ham, that's fine, but I at least need to get him to the point where he can be handled for health checks, for his own good! He's been quite sneezy/snuffly/snotty the past few days, sounds like he has a cold, and it's really hard to keep an eye on him. I've had to dig him out and wake him up a couple of times which I really hate and he really hasn't appeciated! Right now I'm fearful of a scenario that leads to a vet visit since he's not tame. I fear that the stress of it would be detrimental both to his health and to any trust he's begun to develop in humans.

I've tried feeding earlier in the hopes that it might encourage him to be up and about when he's expecting food to arrive, but it hasn't worked. (Note: I also scatter feed to encourage him to forage about) I feel terribly guilty at the thought, but I have to ask; is it fair to wake him during the evening so we can continue taming and also hopefully get him used to being up at that time?

Disturbing him every evening seems like it may just encourage further distrust rather than help forge a bond, but I don't know what else I can do. At the moment all he'd leanring to do is avoid us! Maybe I have inadvertently taught him this?

I've also considered taking a few toys out of his cage and reducing the volume of his bedding just until he's tame, so he can't keep burrowing away and avoiding us. But then it also seems terribly unfair to disturb his new home when he's only just beginning to settle in...

I would hugely appreciate any advice you might have to offer. We just want to be able to make sure our new little chap is keeping well and have the chance to make friends if he wants to.
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