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Old 10-01-2018, 09:09 AM   #1
AliceJayne
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Default Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Hello Everyone!

I got my Syrian male hamster 'Cappuccino' on the 6th of September and at that time he was around 9 weeks old I have had two hamsters years ago and both were very laid back and easy to tame, but I could tell instantly that Cap was not laid back. He jumped at every single sound and movement and seemed extremely scared all the time.

So I left him for about 6 days and then slowly started feeding him treats from my hands. He was actually very quickly trusting of me and took the food, but he remained to be extremely jumpy and skittish and any little noise would make him jump and shake, even noises that I didn't make or couldn't even hear. He would even jump so much that he would throw whatever he was eating up into the air! He would also jump so often that occasionally it would look like he was having a fit! (I am certain he wasn't but just to illustrate how much he would jump).

I have now had him almost a month and haven't made much more progress than in the first 8 days. He will sit occasionally on my hand and eat his seeds, but not long enough for me to lift him, however he is slightly less skittish.

I have tried the bathtub (or in my case shower) method 3 times now, and he is so frightened he just desperately seeks a way to escape. I am thinking of trying a taming bin now instead and I just put my arm in there?

So I am wondering what my next steps should be? Should I just start trying to pick him up or continue to wait? Any help or advice would be great!

Thank you!
Alice x


Also, he has not bitten me once yet! He also lives in a 145 Litre bin cage, I believe the measurements are 80cm by 62cm so he has a lot of room!
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Old 10-02-2018, 01:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Try the taming box. The larger space of the bath might have been scary to your hamster. You can add the wheel and toy(s) from the cage, so he can smell his scent. It can help hamster to relax. Some people add a small amount of substrate from the cage so it smells familiar.

Keep the taming sessions short to start with, then gradually increase the length of he sessions. Let your hamsters behaviour guid your next step.
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:08 PM   #3
adrien
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

be sure to give toys and hidey holes to your ham. if you want to start in a small space, that might be a good idea, but i also suggest something your hamster feels safe in as a way to transfer your hamster onto your body in the tub/shower.

i used this method for both my robo and syrian, and they both handle fine (even if my robo hates it, and i dont unless i need to, at which point he just needs a bit to chill out).

i found my syrian usually won't go from cage to my hand just because he'd rather explore the floor, but picking him up isn't an issue, either. so i think it might be a judgement call......
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:50 PM   #4
AliceJayne
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Thank you for your replies

So I tried him in the playpen bin and the first time he hated it, he ran all along the sides with his belly rubbing against the plastic sides, trying to jump out, and he was squeaking constantly which I have never heard him do before! I put his ball in and he jumped straight into it and I put him back into his cage. There was bedding on the ground and a few chews and treats, I'm not sure why he was so scared!

But I tried again last night and he was much calmer. He ate for quite a while and let me stroke his back and as soon as I saw him pacing the sides I put his ball back and he jumped straight in again haha.

So if he is okay tomorrow night I will finally try and scoop him up!
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:28 PM   #5
AliceJayne
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Hello, so although I wrote that last reply 6 days ago we have not made any progress at all, in fact we have gone backwards

He has become even more jumpy when I try and stroke him, and occasionally wont even take treats from between my fingers. He also chatters at me more now.

This evening has been completely disastrous. I tried him in his playpen for the third time, as all the other evenings he didn't wake up till much later or when he was awake I could tell he wasn't in the mood. I transported him from his cage by his ball which he loves hopping into to, and he seemed okay in the playpen at first, but wouldn't take any treats from my hands at all. Then he kept freezing, the first one lasted almost 5 minutes. I left him alone whilst keeping a close eye on him and once he came round I put his ball into the playpen to put him back into his cage and he would not go into it, which he usually runs over to.

I am currently sat next to his playpen as he has been in there for over 40 minutes now. He will not go into his ball, keeps freezing and trying to escape. He is so skittish that the slightest noise is sending him crazy and he is trying to leap out of the playpen! He has also been excessively grooming and scratching behind his wheel. I tried to move the wheel very slowly after about 20 mins as I was having no luck in getting him out and he went crazy running around and around his cage.

I literally don't know what to do right now, it currently looks like I will have to keep him in his playpen tonight and add some food and water.

Any advice at all would be helpful regarding taming him in future
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:05 PM   #6
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

He does sound very scared. He's only a baby really Our current Syrian was hand-tamed when we got him (breeder hamster) but he still got startled very easily as a baby and jumped at the slightest noise.

I would go back to square one and leave him alone in the cage for a few days. Can you rig up a playpen big enough for you to sit in as well? If you have the floorspace and can afford to buy one, this one from Zooplus is very good (sat in front of me right now!). I used to sit in it with our hamster and he'd run over my foot - you have to keep away from the edges though or they use you to try and climb out!

It's just going to be time and patience with this little guy I think. He sounds very active as well as nervous - he will settle and mellow as time goes on I reckon. But right now just take it slowly. It's frustrating when you want to handle them but worth the time and patience.

It took 2 months to tame our last Syrian. He was really quite neurotic and didn't like coming out of the cage at all really, but once he was out (after he was tame) he used to go to sleep on my knee or sit on the sofa between us!

I did bathtub taming that time and stuck with it. A couple of times a week. They can't come to any harm in there - they usually just slither up and down the sides trying to get out and you can occasionally stroke them on the back wth one finger. When he stops reacting to that you are nearly there.

Shower tray could be tricky as it doesn't have high sides - so maybe try the playpen idea? Taming bin I havent found great as your hand coming in feels like a threat in a smaller space.

He sounds very excited, scared and a bit maverick They freeze when they hear something - it's quite spooky.

Is there anything else that could be stressing him out generally? Is his cage big enough? Enough substrate in it? A house that's dark inside? If he can develop normal behaviours in his cage he'll be more relaxed out of it. Normal behaviours include enough substrate to be able to dig in or burrow down in/bury hoards in, enough space to roam around at night, a wheel big enough so they can run without bending in the middle (ie the back) - a shelf to sit under or on. House ideally should be open underneath and sat on top of the substrate so he can burrow down and bury hoards. A cardboard shoe box makes a good sized house. They need a large-ish house so they can build a big nest in winter to keep warm. Cut the base out and use the lid for a lift-off roof to check inside and cut a hole in one side for a door. If you put a bendy bridge over the door it makes it darker inside and they like the tunnel entrance.

Temperature is another thing. It's getting colder - our hammy doesnt like coming out when it's cold and they panic and want to get back to the cage and get snug in bed. He likes it when the heating is on!

Also cleaning - have you cleaned him out much? That can really stress them, especially initially. There's no need to do weekly cleans - if you have at least 4 inches depth of substrate you can just spot clean the wee corner - and if you use a litter tray the cage stays clean and dry and you just empty the litter tray.

I go a couple of months or more without changing the substrate by using a litter tray - they tend to use it if you put it in their chosen pee place. Also don't clean everything at the same time. You can do the wheel one week and any other toys at a different time as and when they need it. It means there is always something familiar smelling. Also don't move things around in the cage or change things - they scent mark to find their way around andit stresses them. I also leave the hoard and nest alone - if you do have to remove them if pee soaked then always put new food back to replace the hoard in exactly the same place and try and leave a bit of the old nest behind - a dry bit even if slightly whiffy.

Their nest and hoard are their most important things - so they do get stressed if those are taken away or interfered with - occasionally it's necessary but mostly they can just be left alone.

Has he got plenty of nesting material to build a big nest? Torn up strips of plain white toilet paper are best for nesting - just put a heap somewhere in the cage for him to forage for and take to his nest.

Sorry if you know all this already. This is the playpen

https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small...g/73299/453205

Our current Syrian was very skittish for quite a while - and he was already tamed! It was the change of environment and getting used to new people I reckon. Plus noises! Every time the back door closed he hid. But he did like running around in the playpen with lots of toys in. They are funny when they're like this - make the most of it as they can get very laid back in later life! I found it a real shock to go from a slow old Syrian to a baby again!
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:22 AM   #7
hamsterbasil
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

I agree completely with serendipity7000. All her advice is excatly what I would have said too!
My hamster took a very long time to tame, I felt defeated and frustrated and I thought I would never get there! I would think I was getting somewhere and then it would all go wrong and I would have to start again. I can really relate to this! It takes time and A LOT of patience. Don't try and rush it, take it in really really small steps (like reaaaally small). My hammie really hates some sounds still, but he used to be so jumpy and gradually he became used to them. If he is still really bad, I would reccomend starting from scratch. Leave him in his cage for a week maybe? If they are not feeling safe in their home they are much more jumpy and harder to tame. Make sure his home is an environment that makes him feel safe.
Let us know how it goes!
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:00 PM   #8
AliceJayne
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Thank you both so much for your replies! It is nice to hear others that have had skittish hamsters and know what I am going through

serendipity7000 :
I will do as you say and leave him be for a few days, I am hoping the lack of treats will make him desperate for them when I do try hand feeding him again haha I did actually make a floor playpen myself and I sat inside it before I tried the shower taming but he spent the whole time frantically trying to escape, which is why I then switched to the shower. I feel he was quite comfortable with my hand in his cage and it was there that we had the most progress of taming, do you think I can just stick with that for a while until he trusts me more? It seems to be taking him out of his cage when he goes a bit nuts! I haven't seen any sign of cage aggression yet although I know that doesn't mean he is fully comfortable with me being in his cage, but do you think this will be the best option?

Hahaha yes he is definitely a little maverick!

About his cage, he is in a 145lt bin cage (the largest I can buy in the UK that is suitable for a hamster cage), which is around 32 gallons, and has 770 square inches of floor space. I am using about 5/6 inches of carefresh bedding, and he has either his 12 inch Trixie wheel or his 10.5 inch wooden wheel. His bed is currently a large wooden hamster house, and it is positioned under a large cardboard box (really hard to explain) so he has lots of privacy there but can poke his head out and see whats going on. I also have only cleaned out once properly and have just spot cleaned his wee corner a few times.
Thank you so much serendipity7000 for your thorough reply it really means a lot to me! Please let me know if you think I am doing anything wrong or should change anything. I think I will get my next one from a breeder so it's interesting to hear they can be just as skittish too

Hamsterbasil :
Ah it's so nice to hear you had success in the end! Really gives me confidence with Cap! How long would you say it took you to feel yours was completely tame? I am going to start from scratch like you said and just work my way up again and will make sure to keep you updated

Thank you both again so much it really means a lot and has made me feel much more confident about the situation
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Old 10-13-2018, 12:46 PM   #9
hamsterbasil
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Smile Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

I would say it took roughly 5-6 months for him to be 100% tame. It was a long and very frustrating process but now he is extremely tame and even sleeps on me. Don't loose hope! Some things I did to help the taming process was keep a tissue in my sleeve all day then rip it up and put it in his cage so he is used to my smell and associates it with his home. I hand fed him treats for a few weeks and didn't even attempt to get him out of the cage for a while. Then I only had short sessions where I got him out (maybe 5 minutes) in order to not stress him out too much. Then, when I could tell he was getting less stressed by the shorter sessions, I would increase the time by a few minutes.
These things may or may not work for you, but the main things is to keep trying and take it slow. I know you will get there!!
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Old 10-16-2018, 01:22 AM   #10
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Default Re: Taming a very skittish jumpy hamster - Need help!

Oh I was so happy reading this thread today - Noodles is still very jumpy & skittish and we are working on the taming thing - I like the run serendity posted and think I will look at getting one for us, currently we use a pop up ball pool but he isn't happy in it you can tell, we have gone back to basics and I am rustling his bedding to wake him earlier and try to readjust his routine as he has taken to not getting up until very late at night.
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