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Old 07-23-2019, 08:00 AM   #1
detri
Newborn Pup
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 19
Unhappy Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Background:

Got my hamster a week ago from PetSmart, didn't read enough about them and realized his cage was too small, so I got him quite an upgrade with much more horizontal space to run around and a nice platform with a ramp. He's got plenty of toys, and I'm also upgrading him to an exercise wheel that won't strain his back (it should be here tomorrow).

I believe him to be a Campbell's or a hybrid, he's got dark grey fur with a white belly, and fur down to his paws. (He's also insanely adorable for what it's worth).

A few things about him:

He's somewhat territorial, he doesn't like it (bites) if my hand goes near his food bowl or nesting spot while he's near them. He also won't let me move his toys around while he's awake. Otherwise he's already jumping into my hand and doesn't seem to mind being handled too much, so long as I let him have his space.

Problem:

He's been frantic in his old cage, so I upgraded him. When I placed him in his new cage (he jumped in my hand and let me carry him there without a problem), he started trying to escape immediately. He did that for about a half hour. Then he went up the ramp and found his old exercise wheel. For the past hour he's been running on it, jumping off, then back on, repeat. He's also running way harder than normal. I put some of his old bedding in the new cage to make him feel more at home. Is it possible that he thinks running in the wheel will take him back to his old environment? Can I do anything else to make him feel more at home? He hasn't formed a new nesting spot yet.

tl;dr

1. Tried to escape his new cage for a half hour.
2. Put some food in his mouth (presumably intending to hoard it in his old nesting spot?).
3. Running on his wheel nonstop with only short breaks in between bursts.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:55 AM   #2
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Hiya welcome, congrats on your new hammy. What you are describing is normal behaviour of a stressed hamster - the frantic running, short wheel bursts etc. A cage change is hugely stressful for them regardless of whether or not it’s an upgrade. They do need several days up to a couple of weeks to settle in. Good that you’ve added some old bedding in. What I would do now is leave him alone entirely while he settles - not sure how long he’s been in there but I’d give it a week from when you moved him. You’re not going to be able to make any taming progress before he settles so it’s for the best. Make sure there isn’t too much open space either so lots of hides, A nice dark and large area to retreat to to sleep at least the size of a shoe box. Plenty of bedding - minimum of six inches high. And ripped up toilet paper, a large handful of it so he can take it to build a nest. Make sure he has a generous amount of extra food so he can get a nice food hoard going. I’m sure he’ll settle in just fine
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:30 PM   #3
detri
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

He's been doing so much better the past two days, He's got plenty more chews, three hidey spots, TP and nesting puffs for his nest, and his new wheel came in. (He doesn't like the new wheel too much yet, hopefully he realizes it's much better for him than his smaller wheel).

I've been doing pretty much exactly what you've said so hopefully he continues to do OK. He likes to climb into my lap if I open the cage door and sit by it, but I don't force him to interact with me. I'm glad he is so open with me, it should make taming easier when the time comes. I will continue to let him settle in and keep enriching his cage.

Thank you!

Edit: Oh and he did finally make his nest. He seems to be settling down quite well. I gave him lots of bedding, nesting materials, and an empty TP roll as an extra hidey spot. He dragged the TP roll to his nest, too! I love him so much

Last edited by detri; 07-25-2019 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:08 PM   #4
Bearclaw
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Hello there, and congratulations on your new family member! Glad to hear he has been settling in well

Quote:
Originally Posted by detri View Post
TP and nesting puffs for his nest
Just to double check, by "nesting puffs" do you mean cotton fluff, like this?

Those types of materials are actually extremely dangerous to hamsters and can cause serious injuries and even death. Just to name a few, cotton can get caught in a hamster's throat and cause them to choke, it can form a lethal blockage in the gut if eaten, or it can get tangled around the limbs and cut off circulation or cause a sprain.

If you do have cotton fluff in your hamster's cage, I would recommend removing it as soon as possible. Shredded tissue on its own is more than good enough for nesting material
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:16 PM   #5
detri
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Oh no! Always learning something new. They have been removed. Phew. I gave him some more TP to make up for it.
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:49 PM   #6
Bearclaw
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Quote:
Originally Posted by detri View Post
Oh no! Always learning something new. They have been removed. Phew. I gave him some more TP to make up for it.
Glad I could help! Don't stress too much - we all learn new things all the time, and make improvements as we go!

Pet shops don't make it easy - they are often the first port of call for new owners when it comes to supplies and basic information, and people tend to trust that the things they market for hamsters are actually, you know, suitable for hamsters...
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:56 PM   #7
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

Unfortunately, pet shops just don't have any standard to uphold when it comes to actually stocking safe products and giving appropriate information! This certainly isn't isolated to the less "popular" pets like hamsters, but I could easily go into any pet shop and find no less than 20 things dangerous to dogs and they're one of the most popular pets.

The sad reality is that pet shops want to make money, even if the product they sell may seriously harm or even kill a beloved pet. Even some relatively good local stores can have unsafe products!
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Old 07-26-2019, 06:16 AM   #8
detri
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Columbus, OH
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Default Re: Worried about my new dwarf hamster

He's running on his new wheel now and is seeming overall much happier. Less frantic and stressed, more curious and loves to chew his toys!

Thanks for all your help everyone! Really glad I decided to read on my own and found this forum. Pet stores are not to be trusted, and I honestly can't believe they are allowed to sell those tiny unsuitable hamster homes. Habitat is easily one of the most important things for them and I totally took the bait at first, luckily I was able to observe his behavior and get him into a home he's happy with.
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cage, wheel, running, spot, hand, back, nesting, hour, food, fur, jumping, half, feel, put, escape, make, problem, home, ramp, toys, exercise, hamster, space, harder, repeat

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