I asked this question on another hamster forum and I got a lot of advice, which I tried, but which ultimately has not helped, so I thought maybe someone here would have a tip for me.
We are first time hamster owners and we bought Pippa at Pets at Home. From the look of her she was probably about 8 weeks old, at least - bigger than the 6 week old babies I see them selling now.
She was (and is) tame enough not to startle when we open the cage, and she will take food from our hands. She also climbs into her hamster ball if I hold it in the cage for her, to go for a roll around the house. I can also pick her up in an emergency (like when she's trying to crawl out of her cage) as long as I'm careful not to let her have time to get her head around to bite my hand.
The thing is that I am not really sure why she's biting. People keep telling me she's scared, but she doesn't act scared. If I am wearing a glove, she will crawl into my hand, but then look down and start biting the hand through the glove. If I hold my bare hand down inside her playpen or her cage, she will come up and sniff it, then bite down hard. Sometimes she will even sniff once or twice before finally biting on the third sniff.
Someone suggested i buy a brand new toothbrush and rub it on my arm to put some of my scent on it, then stroke her with it to get her used to being touched. All that happens is she thinks i'm giving her a chew toy. I put the toothbrush down, and i may be able to pet her with it a couple times, but when she sees there's something in her cage, she grabs it and gnaws it viciously. she doesn't even want to let go of it -- she wants to drag it off like it's a toy.
So basically we have a hamster that gets lots of playtime in terms of being outside the cage because I am able to transport her using a cup or hamster ball. But we cannot cuddle her, pet her or anything because she bites every time.
Is there anything at all we can do? We have already been feeding her treats from our hands (washing hands well afterwards so we don't smell like food) and we can often stroke her flank while she is eating and she doesn't mind. but, the minute we try to stroke her when she is unoccupied, she will sniff and then bite.
thanks for any help
edited to add: we have had her 3 weeks.