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Old 01-27-2019, 07:54 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1
Post dwarf suddenly starts to bite/nibble hard after a month

I got my dwarf hamster about a month ago and I let her settle in for three days before I started the taming process. From the beginning she was willing to crawl onto my hand and let me hold and pet her, which didn't surprise me too much because one of the pet store employees did say she was one of the most friendliest hamsters there. But even so, I would only handle her at night when she is fully awake and only a little bit at a time (15 - 30 minutes). The only times I interact with her during the day is if she voluntarily comes out, I would never disturb her while she's sleeping.

But last night, around 5:30 am, I realized she had woken up because when I had walked passed her, she ran towards my direction, stood up against the bin cage, and started patting (digging) at it. She always does this, and I assumed it's because she was trying to get my attention for a treat so I gave her three sunflower seeds (handed two and placed one on my palm). But she was still trying to get my attention afterwards, so I assumed she wanted to come out and play. I wash my hands (with a soap that I've been using for the past three weeks) and placed it down in front of her. But instead, she bit me (just hard enough to bleed a tiny bit) and I instinctively pulled back and lifted her about an inch and a half up in the air before realizing that I shouldn't have moved and quickly put her back down. She didn't let go of my finger even after I twitched it a bit and said "ouch". She stopped when I gently blew at her but immediately started nibbling so I pulled away and washed my hand again.

When I came back and sat in front of the cage bin, she still continued to stand up against the bin, pawing at it and so I tried to give her my other hand, and she bit my other hand as well. It wasn't hard enough for me to bleed this time, but it still hurt pretty bad. But when I took my hand away from her, she stood up, almost looked confused, and ran towards my direction again. I felt AWFUL that I had pulled back and could have potentially startled her so I thought I would give it a couple more tries and she bit me 4 out of 5 times I placed my hand in front of her. However, at the end I handed her a small piece of millet and tried to see if she would let me pet her, and she was completely fine with it. I didn't want to stop giving her attention but I didn't know how to give it to her with her constantly nibbling so hard.

She currently lives in a bin cage (27.5 gal, 650 sq inch) and has a silent spinner, a potty, plenty of toys and puzzles (which she shows no interest in unless food is involved AND easily accessible), two connected paper towel rolls, a popsicle stick platform, and 4 inches of bedding on the right half of the bin and 2 on the left half (I set it up this way to ensure that she won't fall off the platform and just walk directly onto bedding instead). There hasn't been any change in her poo or pee.

The only thing that's changed about her is how she started running on the wheel. I knew she didn't run before because it was covered in dust and I have stayed up a fair amount of nights (up till 6 am) and noticed that she spent most of her time destroying toliet paper/paper towel rolls. At the pet store, she didn't have one and since she is ~7 months old (that's what the employee told me) I assumed she just didn't know how to use it so I removed it from the cage for a day and put it back in to maybe peek her interest and it worked, but now she's biting me.

I'm not entirely sure what to do. I have read forums about using gloves but wouldn't that stop her from smelling my scent? It was 5:30-6 in the morning, so I didn't disturb her. I wasn't eating anything and washed my hands beforehand. I, however, didn't refill her food bowl despite it being empty for the first time because I had filled it not even two days ago and she hoarded everything into her nest. This is the first time she's moved all the food so quick, but would me not providing food in her bowl every time it's empty cause her to bite? But I didn't want to overfeed her since she didn't start exercising until two nights ago.

She had just woken up a few minutes ago and I decided to put my hand in there again and almost immediately she bit my pinky. I try to stay calm but since I feel a little on edge, my hands can't help by get clammy now and I hope that doesn't make this situation worse.

I apologize in advance for the length and thank you for your help.
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Old 01-28-2019, 07:31 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Wales UK
Posts: 23,318
Default Re: dwarf suddenly starts to bite/nibble hard after a month

It can be a real shock when they suddenly start to bite but you've handled it well. It could be that she's getting a bit territorial in her cage now, maybe taking the wheel out then putting it back could have triggered it or that may just be coincidence, it's hard to tell really.
I would try handling her out of the cage only for a while, if she'll climb into a tube, mug or something you can safely transport her in carry her to a playpen or other safe area & try interacting with her there, give her some toys & things to explore as well & begin to introduce your hand to her again & see how that goes, giving her treats from your fingertips in the cage might still be ok.
I've only had one female Russian & she was very territorial, once she'd got used to being handled out of the cage she would tolerate my hand in the cage just doing basic necessities like food & water & she would walk onto my hand if it was by the door of her cage but she was never really happy with hands in the cage. I don't think she ever bit me once outside the cage.
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