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Old 05-06-2018, 10:56 PM   #1
jperez
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Join Date: Apr 2018
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Default New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Hi everyone, first time hamster owner here! I am a bit concerned of my hamster's recent behavior. Three weeks ago I got a young Syrian, they told me he was 3-5 months old. At first he (Pancake) was curious, active, ate all his food, came out when I opened his food bags and was even slightly aggressive when I tried to give him treats - he bit me, then I tried using garden gloves. He did not like them and would attack the gloves. Then I started to give him treats with my bare hand, rubbed my scent on his nesting material. He seemed less aggressive last week and would go for the treats, a little tentatively, but he would come out. Seemed like taming was on the right track.

Then lately, for maybe a few days, he has seemed more withdrawn, shy, and scared than he was when he first came home. When he hears me trying to call him he chatters his teeth, which seems like he feel threatened or annoyed. I know he is awake, but he just stays in his house until super late at night when the lights are out. I understand this is nocturnal behavior, but he used to come out for food. He is active on his wheel and eats and drinks enough, his eyes, fur, and butt appear clean of discharge, diarrhea, he is not lethargic (just shy or unfriendly), no signs wet tail from what I could see and understand. He just seems really grumpy, skittish, and different. What could cause a change in behavior? Should I continue trying to tame him? Then again, it has only been maybe three weeks.

A note: I had to do a cage cleaning two days ago, I put him in a ball for a short while and redid his cage (40 gallon aquarium) - added new bedding, new chew toys, a tunnel, sand pit, and litter box. The whole shebang. I kept some of his old bedding and soiled bedding for his new cage, but he seems unhappy, maybe he's not yet used to the change. Regardless, his behavior has changed and I don't know what the cause could be, if he is just adjusting, this is his unfriendly personality, or if he could be sick. Help me understand him please?

Thanks for any tips or advice,
Jeyna
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:21 AM   #2
IamKat
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Hey! Congrats on the new ham! Taming can be a bit arduous with some hams, but don't let that put you off, there are still plenty of things to try.

It doesn't sound like he is sick, and sometimes taming can backtrack a little, especially with a cage clean. Plus if you have added lots of new toys his environment has totally changed, and that might have freaked him out and set you back a bit. I wouldn't recommend adding anything new or doing a big cage clean for a while. Let him get his scent over all his new things and bedding, and don't try and handle him for a while until he has done this. Does he just use the toilet in one area of his cage? This can make it much easier and all you need to do is spot clean there, and will hardly ever need to do a full cage clean.

Have you tried a bath taming session? These can be really helpful, you can put some treats in a mug or tube and wait for him to climb in, then bring that into the bath (with the plug in) and allow him to climb over you, whilst avoiding picking him up or touching him with your hands, at least at first. This can be repeated every day or every other day, for 10 minutes or so at a time. One of the issues with a tank is that to come near him you are probably coming down from above, which for a prey animal can be a little intimidating. I'd recommend spending lots of time near the cage, talking, and keep on putting tissue in his cage with your scent on it. Then when putting your hand In the cage just be aware of not coming in above him, and just begin putting your hand in the tank, perhaps with some treats on, but without trying to actively touch him for a while.

As I said, don't let it put you off, some hams can be more shy than others, and some take a while to tame! Keep at it, and stay patient good luck.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:43 AM   #3
jperez
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Hi IamKat, Thank you for your reply! I thought he might have been allergic to the previous bedding, and I thought 3 weeks was long enough to wait, but maybe I should have waited a bit longer. He did seem hesitant about his new cage for sure. I was just so excited to give him more things to do. He seems ok with his cage now, thankfully.

Also, Pancake has just progressed to eating treats out of my hand! It's so cute, he digs through the seed mix and sits in my hand while nibbling. I try to make sure not to go above him and slowly enter my hand in the cage where he can see it. He did bite me and draw blood yesterday though... so, I will do this for maybe a week and get him used to my hand and treats. I have heard of bath taming! I will try to do that next. I can't wait to tame him so I can cuddle him, he's just too cute.

Thank you for all your suggestions and support!!
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:55 AM   #4
dreamtree1234
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Hi and welcome to HC! Congrats on getting Pancake, too!

I am sorry that Pancake bit and drew blood during your last taming session. I ditto all of the excellent advice that was given by IamKat. I would just like to add that you can also rub your hands in his substrate so you can smell even more familiar to him as well. The tissue trick does wonders for taming, too. A lot of times a hammy will be more territorial inside his cage so the biting, nibbling will probably not happen once in a playpen or tub as described. Good luck.
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:56 AM   #5
IamKat
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

I'm sure all the new stuff will be great for Pancake I totally understand wanting to spoil him and it won't have done any long term upset (just a few days setback). it does sound like you're making good progress although I'm sorry he nipped you. Dreamtree gave some good advice there. There could also be an element that he is still getting used to what's food and what's not, although it may also be a territorial thing like Dreamtree said. Don't let it deter you, I've had some early nippers that have turned out to be the sweetest hams I ever owned, if at all possible, try not to be too nervous around him expecting a bite. He does sound like he's a bit nervy, so give him time and love and I'm sure you'll get there. It sounds like you're doing all the right things though, the bath thing has always worked for me so fingers crossed it works for you too.

I'd love to see some pics when he is settled
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Old 05-13-2018, 10:52 PM   #6
jperez
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the great advice! I have some follow up ones. Pancake is awake at night but hides until the lights are out to get food. He hasnít been finishing his food as much as before, I have been using a Kaytee fiesta seed mix as a treat for taming, could this cause him to be full and no longer like his old food, even fresh veggies? Iím having a hard time getting him out at night at all to try the tub taming, any suggestions? He only comes out in the morning, is that just his preference or something weird?. Here is his 40 gal cage, is his setup maybe a bit crowded, and could the play tube be causing some kind of cautious behavior? He still seems very nervous compared to before.
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Old 05-13-2018, 10:54 PM   #7
jperez
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Here is Pancake, and his 40 gal cage with a house (which I will upgrade soon, he's gotten bigger!), play tube, sand bath (I later took this out), wheel, log, another straw hideout, litter box, food n water bottle and chews. Is this too much for him? Could the tube be causing him to be more cautious?
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:33 AM   #8
cypher
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

They don't really eat very much in a day so it could be that he's having enough of the Kaytee fiesta seed mix & veg to not need much of his main mix, you could cut back a bit on the treats so he eats enough of his main mix.
If he only comes out in the morning then I would do some taming/bonding time out of the cage then, that should help him gain confidence & may then begin to come out earlier in the evening or once he's used to it you could try gently waking him a little earlier than his normal time in the evening for some out of cage time & see how that goes.
It doesn't look like he has too much in his cage at all tbh, there's still quite a lot of open space there, if he doesn't seem to like something like the play tube then you could try just taking it out & putting something else in for him.
He looks really sweet in that first photo.
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Old 05-14-2018, 02:44 AM   #9
IamKat
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Pretty much what Cypher said! Just follow his routine and try taming when he is awake and you might find his routine changes as he gets more settled. His tank looks fine, and he's super cute !

If you find he sleeps in his tube or becomes protective over it then it might be worth removing it (it's not a good idea to let them sleep in the tubes). I have had it before where nervous hams won't leave tubes - perhaps feeling as if they need to protect it (just a theory).. and then when I have removed them they seem to gain confidence. Once settled I've put the tube back and they seem to have a much healthier 'relationship' with it if you get what I mean. So you could try that if you think the tubes are making him nervous.
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:23 PM   #10
jperez
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Default Re: New Syrian Hamster Behavior

Thank you all so much for your help! That is reassuring. And yes he is super cute! Thank you.

Tried some out of cage time for the first time today, in an exercise ball for a bit while cleaning and then in a little playpen, he didn't pay much attention to me but walked around and investigated a bit. Slowly but surely he will love me haha.
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behavior, bedding, treats, food, understand, cage, weeks, gloves, change, days, bit, ago, give, unfriendly, shy, active, syrian, aggressive, hamster, tame, continue, diarrhea, lethargic, discharge, clean

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