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Old 10-09-2020, 10:41 AM   #1
Space Hamster
Newborn Pup
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 13
Unhappy Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

Hello hamster friends, hope you are all well <3

After a long time we have finally got a new hamster friend! Our little chap is a Syrian, still awaiting a name as we'd like to get to know him a bit first but our problem is...we hardly ever see him! He is in a Savic Hamster Heaven (minus the awful tubes and penthouse, just 1 solid shelf installed inside; other toys include bendy bridges, wicker tube, igloo, puzzle playground, various chews, trixie wheel) with a nice deep bedding of Kaytee Clean & Cozy. His cage is in a room where I spend lots of him, so he should hear and smell me during the day. I've been giving him human-scented tissue, but he isn't taking it to help build his nest; he's tunneled into the bedding and made his own burrow system.

Things were good to start with. We left him to his own devices for a few days to settle in. He was out and about in his cage in the evening, finding his wheel and running on it, having a look around his cage. I began sitting and talking to him when I saw him around. We then moved on to offering treats which he took with barely any hesitation, then stroking him gently whilst he was eating, then luring him on to a hand to sit and eat. There were a few small hiccups along the way of course e.g. him chomping my finger to see if it was more food, making me jump, which then made him jump or moving and accidentally spooking him, but nothing drastic.

We then had an 'unsuccessful' evening where he was not really interested in taking food form me and using his wheel to 'run away.' I wondered if maybe I'd pushed a little too far too fast and decided to ease off for a couple of days, let him settle in more, then start from the beginning again.

Trouble is, seeing him out and about during human waking hours is becoming rarer and rarer. I don't even see or hear him get up to drink! We had one great evening where he was up, so we managed to convince him to walk into a jar and set up some 'bathtub bonding' which went fine, apart from I was a bit stiff after sitting in there! The next evening it was quite late before I saw him, but since I was ready for bed I got him in the jar and transferred him to the inside of my dressing gown; my previous hamsters have all loved going round and round in there and playing tunnels up and down the sleeves, and our new chap seemed quite happy with this. I thought it might also help get him used to my human smell. We then played 'pass the hamster' back and forth a few times before popping him back home, and he was happy to be handled - just didn't like being picked up yet.

Since then...I haven't seen him awake of an evening since! He's now keeping really late hours, and there's no way I can stay up waiting for him. I tried to encourage him out last night, but he didn't want to know. I had his cage in my bedroom last night to see if he really was getting up and about. I listened to him running on his wheel and digging in his corner potty around 12:30pm-1am then I had to move him back to the other room so I could get some sleep

If he turns out not to be a very sociable ham, that's fine, but I at least need to get him to the point where he can be handled for health checks, for his own good! He's been quite sneezy/snuffly/snotty the past few days, sounds like he has a cold, and it's really hard to keep an eye on him. I've had to dig him out and wake him up a couple of times which I really hate and he really hasn't appeciated! Right now I'm fearful of a scenario that leads to a vet visit since he's not tame. I fear that the stress of it would be detrimental both to his health and to any trust he's begun to develop in humans.

I've tried feeding earlier in the hopes that it might encourage him to be up and about when he's expecting food to arrive, but it hasn't worked. (Note: I also scatter feed to encourage him to forage about) I feel terribly guilty at the thought, but I have to ask; is it fair to wake him during the evening so we can continue taming and also hopefully get him used to being up at that time?

Disturbing him every evening seems like it may just encourage further distrust rather than help forge a bond, but I don't know what else I can do. At the moment all he'd leanring to do is avoid us! Maybe I have inadvertently taught him this?

I've also considered taking a few toys out of his cage and reducing the volume of his bedding just until he's tame, so he can't keep burrowing away and avoiding us. But then it also seems terribly unfair to disturb his new home when he's only just beginning to settle in...

I would hugely appreciate any advice you might have to offer. We just want to be able to make sure our new little chap is keeping well and have the chance to make friends if he wants to.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:36 PM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

How long have you had him now? It does sometimes. happen that they’re very active & inquisitive when they first come home & everything is new then go through a phase of getting up later probably when the novelty of everything has worn off.
I wouldn’t reduce the substrate, the hamster heaven base isn’t that deep for a Syrian & I think you may just end up stressing him out & making things worse.
If you have a photo of his cage set up that would help just to see if there may be anything you could change to make things work better.
Some hams do get up very late, it varies a lot from one ham to another so you may have to try to find ways to try & tempt him out I wouldn’t force him to come out or wake up if he really isn’t ready.
There isn’t a simple answer as all hams are different but it seems that taming has been going well when he was coming out so it may just be a case of waiting for a while to see if he will begin to get up earlier again.
Some hams that are up l ate at night are awake later in the morning so there’s a chance you may be able to interact with him a bit more then if you see hiim.
Is the temperature in the room where he is kept around 18-20C day & night? The nights have really started to get colder now & if the room isn’t warm enough that could be a reason for staying in bed longer, some of my hams have tended to get up later when the weather’s cold even though the heating is. on, somehow they seem to know!
I think maybe you just need to give him time, they all go at their own pace so on’t worry too much.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:58 PM   #3
ColaTheRobloxian
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Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

personally i don't recommend trying to tame your hamster so soon after adopting them and taking them home. i usually let my hamster settle in for at least 2 weeks before trying to interact with them to really let them get used to the smells and atmosphere of my home. then i really take my time with them. i got my hamster to be tamed by sitting in a bathtub with him and letting him crawl on me to get used to how i smelled. then after a little while of doing that, i let him crawl into a mug or something then i would put him onto my arm where my sleeve or something else was covering it. after about a couple of weeks of doing that, i was able to get my hamster to walk around on me without me worrying about my hamster biting my arms or hands. my hamster took about 3 and a half months to get fully tamed.

i don't know if this has helped with anyone else, but it has helped me a lot. every hamster has different personalities and could take a longer or shorter period of time to get tamed! so, if what i said doesn't work, or if your hamster doesn't get tamed too soon, do not worry. just be patient with them and they will eventually earn your trust!
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:48 AM   #4
Space Hamster
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Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
How long have you had him now? It does sometimes. happen that they’re very active & inquisitive when they first come home & everything is new then go through a phase of getting up later probably when the novelty of everything has worn off.
I wouldn’t reduce the substrate, the hamster heaven base isn’t that deep for a Syrian & I think you may just end up stressing him out & making things worse.
If you have a photo of his cage set up that would help just to see if there may be anything you could change to make things work better.
Some hams do get up very late, it varies a lot from one ham to another so you may have to try to find ways to try & tempt him out I wouldn’t force him to come out or wake up if he really isn’t ready.
There isn’t a simple answer as all hams are different but it seems that taming has been going well when he was coming out so it may just be a case of waiting for a while to see if he will begin to get up earlier again.
Some hams that are up l ate at night are awake later in the morning so there’s a chance you may be able to interact with him a bit more then if you see hiim.
Is the temperature in the room where he is kept around 18-20C day & night? The nights have really started to get colder now & if the room isn’t warm enough that could be a reason for staying in bed longer, some of my hams have tended to get up later when the weather’s cold even though the heating is. on, somehow they seem to know!
I think maybe you just need to give him time, they all go at their own pace so on’t worry too much.
Hello Cypher, thanks so much for taking the time to reply! To clarify, we've now had him for a little over a fortnight. I've just started a new post over in the housing suggestion showing his cage, I'd love to hear any ideas you have for improvements I can make to help my little guy feel more settled.

I got to see him the other day when he decided to sleep beside his wheel for the day. When I heard he was awake I'd sit beside the cage and just talk to him in a low quiet voice, offering some broccoli, but he wasn't very impressed and chittered at me. I don't know what I've done to offend him but it must be bad!

Since then he's vanished again, though I hear the very occasional noise or bit of nibbling going on somewhere under the bedding. I'm truly baffled that he doesn't seem to need to come out and drink during the day! The only way I know he's still okay is that I see his food and water levels have decreased each morning, though sometimes he ignores the food I've placed about his cage. Maybe he's just a lazy little so-and-so who doesn't like foraging!! I've gone back to mostly putting his food in a bowl just so I know he's actually eating.

I do worry about him, and in particular that if he was poorly or unwell I wouldn't really know...potentially until it's too late

This room can be a little cool (bit hard to make a fair judgement thought since once the weather shifts and autumn begins, I am one of those people who are just perma-cold... ) so I'm going to invest in a small heater to benefit the both of us. It'll be interesting to see one the clocks change at the end of the month whether our schedules might align a bit better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColaTheRobloxian View Post
personally i don't recommend trying to tame your hamster so soon after adopting them and taking them home. i usually let my hamster settle in for at least 2 weeks before trying to interact with them to really let them get used to the smells and atmosphere of my home. then i really take my time with them. i got my hamster to be tamed by sitting in a bathtub with him and letting him crawl on me to get used to how i smelled. then after a little while of doing that, i let him crawl into a mug or something then i would put him onto my arm where my sleeve or something else was covering it. after about a couple of weeks of doing that, i was able to get my hamster to walk around on me without me worrying about my hamster biting my arms or hands. my hamster took about 3 and a half months to get fully tamed.

i don't know if this has helped with anyone else, but it has helped me a lot. every hamster has different personalities and could take a longer or shorter period of time to get tamed! so, if what i said doesn't work, or if your hamster doesn't get tamed too soon, do not worry. just be patient with them and they will eventually earn your trust!
Hi Cola, thanks for your input. I've backed off and will just give him whatever time he needs to settle. Taming seems impossible at the moment since I so rarely see him, but I'll just have to hope his timetable and mine will align in the future so we can begin getting to know one another.

It's a bit disappointing and worrying after we got off to what seemed like a positive start, but my main concern is just knowing that he's okay. At the moment the only way I can tell is that I see his foodand water have gone down each morning. Hopefully I'll get the privelege of watching the little cutie eating his dinner later down the line
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Old 10-12-2020, 11:35 PM   #5
cypher
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Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

I’ve just seen your other thread about your cage & there’s some good advice there that should help.
Plenty of enrichment in the cage which is great but it is important to make sure your ham has the basics first so do try make or buy a better house for him, one that is large enough & really dark inside, no base & lots of substrate underneath, if you get a house like the Rodipet ones with the roof that lifts off it makes it a lot easier to just check on them now & then & you can use the roof of the house as a shelf which is better than using the plastic ones that come with cages.
You might find that just making a few simple changes could help to build up his confidence without him being so inaccessible you can’t keep an eye on how he’s doing.
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Slave to Zak, Calyanwë & Gusto.
Always loved, never forgotten, forever in my heart
T'ycor, Ziggy, Zephyr, Flynt, Mickle, Little Whisp, Zen, Zeki, Tinwë, Zylvan & Míriel
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Old 10-14-2020, 06:33 AM   #6
Ria P
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Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

I also have a fairly reclusive young Syrian boy living in a Hamster Heaven.
Rory gets up very late around midnight and i've never seen him during the day. Like yours, he was more active at the beginning but once settled that changed a bit.
It may help to adjust his set up to make him more accessible for taming. I have taken all the HH shelves and tubes out and started with an empty cage.
Syrians usually love their houses and will move in. They need a large bottomless house with a removable roof so you can now and again check on them to make sure they're well and check their hoard for gone off fresh food without disturbing their nest. I use the inexpensive Ferplast guinea pig sized houses.
The house is in the left side of the cage, almost submerged into the substrate and plastikoted with a green/blue striped roof.
If i stay up till 01.00/02.00, chances are that i will see Rory coming to his door asking to come out to free roam in the room but i work and can't always stay up that late.
He wakes up around 22.00/22.30 because i can hear him scrunching and cluttering around inside his house and i had to try and tame him.
SO, once a week at around 22.30 i call his name and carefully remove the roof of his house and check if he's awake in which case i leave the roof off. If he's still fast asleep then i put the roof back on and try another night.
Ok, he's awake but minus his roof so he looks at me and sniffs around while i talk to him nicely. He sniffs for a while then grabs something to eat from his hoard and eventually climbs out of his house and goes into his coconut outhouse where he has a long and thourough wash. While he does that i put the roof back on and put everything back in its place.
He's not a hamster to be rushed and the whole sniffing, snacking, washing routine takes around 30-45 minutes.
Then he comes over to his open door and tries to climb out of his cage and onto my hand so i help him out and put him on my lap for some taming exercises. You can also take a hamster out by letting him walk into something like a jug. If he doesn't want to you could put a treat in it and if that doesn't work then he really doesn't want to come out and you have to try another night.
On my lap i started with stroking him and progressed to pick up exercises to gradually get him used to getting picked up.
After the exercises i let him roam around in a hamster proofed room and sit on the floor with him so he can still smell me. Roaming around is what he wants to come out for in the first place and he's so eager to get off my lap and onto the floor that we do this catch exercises where he starts to run like a wind up toy mouse and i catch/pick him up before he gets away and put him back to starting point to do a couple more reps.
It may be worth a try with your hamster but you need to be very patient which i'm sure you are to let the hamster do things in his own time.
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Old 10-17-2020, 04:24 AM   #7
Space Hamster
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Join Date: Jul 2018
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Posts: 13
Default Re: Help taming our hideaway hermit hamster!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
I’ve just seen your other thread about your cage & there’s some good advice there that should help.
Plenty of enrichment in the cage which is great but it is important to make sure your ham has the basics first so do try make or buy a better house for him, one that is large enough & really dark inside, no base & lots of substrate underneath, if you get a house like the Rodipet ones with the roof that lifts off it makes it a lot easier to just check on them now & then & you can use the roof of the house as a shelf which is better than using the plastic ones that come with cages.
You might find that just making a few simple changes could help to build up his confidence without him being so inaccessible you can’t keep an eye on how he’s doing.
Hello again cypher, how are you? Thankyou for taking the time to have a look at my cage and sharing your suggestions; I've just been on the rodipet website and ordered one of their labyrinth houses along with some other bits and bobs. I'd thought about ordering one before I got him but couldn't decide which to choose and then never got around to it. I'm really excited on behalf of the little guy, I hope he's going to love his new things!

I saw him out and about early the other morning and we had a funny encounter last night. I had stayed up late (oops) and had refreshed his waterbottle, went to fit it back to the cage without realising the little black hamster was in the very dark corner of the cage right where the bottle goes....welll...I don't know who was more suprised! The sound of the waterbottle made him jump, which then made me jump, then we both sat and stared at each other a few moments I have noticed though that he didn't seem to all out "panic" like he did at the very start, he instinctually bolted a little way across the cage but then stopped, like he realised it wasn't a huge threat after all. Much better!

He seemed curious, so I opened the door and let him sniff my hand for a couple of minutes. He had a little run on his wheel while I talked to him and then I slipped him a couple of the choicest pieces from his foodbowl and he happily let me rub his little head between his ears while he muched away. Very happy I'm starting to see him around again, and very happy to note he didn't sound sneezy or sniffly at all in contrast to when we first got him. Phew!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
I also have a fairly reclusive young Syrian boy living in a Hamster Heaven.
Rory gets up very late around midnight and i've never seen him during the day. Like yours, he was more active at the beginning but once settled that changed a bit.
It may help to adjust his set up to make him more accessible for taming. I have taken all the HH shelves and tubes out and started with an empty cage.
Syrians usually love their houses and will move in. They need a large bottomless house with a removable roof so you can now and again check on them to make sure they're well and check their hoard for gone off fresh food without disturbing their nest. I use the inexpensive Ferplast guinea pig sized houses.
The house is in the left side of the cage, almost submerged into the substrate and plastikoted with a green/blue striped roof.
If i stay up till 01.00/02.00, chances are that i will see Rory coming to his door asking to come out to free roam in the room but i work and can't always stay up that late.
He wakes up around 22.00/22.30 because i can hear him scrunching and cluttering around inside his house and i had to try and tame him.
SO, once a week at around 22.30 i call his name and carefully remove the roof of his house and check if he's awake in which case i leave the roof off. If he's still fast asleep then i put the roof back on and try another night.
Ok, he's awake but minus his roof so he looks at me and sniffs around while i talk to him nicely. He sniffs for a while then grabs something to eat from his hoard and eventually climbs out of his house and goes into his coconut outhouse where he has a long and thourough wash. While he does that i put the roof back on and put everything back in its place.
He's not a hamster to be rushed and the whole sniffing, snacking, washing routine takes around 30-45 minutes.
Then he comes over to his open door and tries to climb out of his cage and onto my hand so i help him out and put him on my lap for some taming exercises. You can also take a hamster out by letting him walk into something like a jug. If he doesn't want to you could put a treat in it and if that doesn't work then he really doesn't want to come out and you have to try another night.
On my lap i started with stroking him and progressed to pick up exercises to gradually get him used to getting picked up.
After the exercises i let him roam around in a hamster proofed room and sit on the floor with him so he can still smell me. Roaming around is what he wants to come out for in the first place and he's so eager to get off my lap and onto the floor that we do this catch exercises where he starts to run like a wind up toy mouse and i catch/pick him up before he gets away and put him back to starting point to do a couple more reps.
It may be worth a try with your hamster but you need to be very patient which i'm sure you are to let the hamster do things in his own time.
Hello Ria, thanks so much for taking the time to reply and for sharing your experiences with Rory. Nice to know I'm not the only one with a guy who likes to party late at night! Some of my previous hamsters have been just like Rory in that they seem to like to take their time waking up and getting ready to come out, lots of grooming and snacking etc. Just like humans, I suppose - I know I wouldn't want to get out of bed and go straight for a run!!

I have a feeling once my guy finds out there's a big exciting outside he can come out and roam around and explore, it'll do wonders for encouraging him to come out. I feel like I'm starting to see him around a little more and recent interactions have been brief but encouraging, so I'm feeling a lot more hopeful.

Thanks also for sharing a picture of Rory's lovely home - I particularly love his stripy roof, wow!
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