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Old 01-06-2021, 09:38 AM   #1
Sophie M
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Default Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

My new Campbell hamster Oreo is perfectly fine when I have food on my hand and he will come sit on my hand and eat it. Although, he does get super scared as soon as I touch his back, side or anywhere on him and he goes completely psycho and flips around everywhere, flies into the walls of his 650 sq inch cage and looks terrified. I have had him for two weeks and have been working with him slowly but at this point, I dont know what to do.
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Old 01-06-2021, 03:19 PM   #2
SyrianNamedHarmony
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Default Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

That's kind of weird, he comes and gets the food from your hand, but he seems totally freaked out when you touch him. Do you have a place where you could tame him? Like a taming cage or taming room or something? Maybe you should just leave him alone for a few days before trying to touch him again. Where did you get him? He might just have a bad back story and might just be scared of being touched by people. I recommend just giving him some more time time to adjust to his new home.
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Old 01-07-2021, 06:08 AM   #3
Ria P
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Thumbs down Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

Hi and welcome to HC!

It can take a hamster two weeks just to settle into their new home and for the first two weeks i just talk to them and give them a chance to get used to their new surroundings.

I think that you are rushing things a bit and may be expecting too much too soon.
I would back off for a few days and then start taming out of his cage keeping the sessions very short at the beginning.

What works for me is the following: i sit in a playpen or hamster proof area and let the hamster walk around on my lap without touching him at first but only for a short while. I then move on to lightly touching him while he's eating a treat and increase the length of the sessions gradually. When the hamster is comfortable with touch i cap my hand around him briefly and from there move on to pick up exercises.

It worked for a very scared hamster who used to fly around his cage when i tried to touch him so i stopped that and tempted him into a "hamster taxi" mug with a treat to take him out of his cage.

Taming a hamster can take a lot of time and patience and i had estimated two to three months for my scared hamster but he became tame a lot quicker than that because i was willing to go at his pace and gained his trust slowly.
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Old 01-07-2021, 08:45 AM   #4
Sophie M
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Smile Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
Hi and welcome to HC!

It can take a hamster two weeks just to settle into their new home and for the first two weeks i just talk to them and give them a chance to get used to their new surroundings.

I think that you are rushing things a bit and may be expecting too much too soon.
I would back off for a few days and then start taming out of his cage keeping the sessions very short at the beginning.

What works for me is the following: i sit in a playpen or hamster proof area and let the hamster walk around on my lap without touching him at first but only for a short while. I then move on to lightly touching him while he's eating a treat and increase the length of the sessions gradually. When the hamster is comfortable with touch i cap my hand around him briefly and from there move on to pick up exercises.

It worked for a very scared hamster who used to fly around his cage when i tried to touch him so i stopped that and tempted him into a "hamster taxi" mug with a treat to take him out of his cage.

Taming a hamster can take a lot of time and patience and i had estimated two to three months for my scared hamster but he became tame a lot quicker than that because i was willing to go at his pace and gained his trust slowly.

Yeah I adopted all of my previous hamsters from a rescue when they were young so they had already had some contact with people. Sadly, there were no hamsters and there still aren't any at the one rescue that carries them. I had waited months to find one at the local Humane Society but after about 4 months I decided to buy one from a pet store. I hate supporting mills but there are no local breeders or hamsters on Kijiji at this time in my area. I believe that taming my previous hamsters was easier since they had already had human contact from a loving owner and Oreo had only had minimal if not, zero contact with humans in his past. I will work on basically restarting although, every time I put him in a play pen with a towel down he starts getting freaked out. Thank you for your help and I will start again slower with him.
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Old 01-07-2021, 11:16 AM   #5
Ria P
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Default Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

None of my hamsters really liked the playpen either. They either sat in a corner sulking or tried to get out.
What works here is freeroaming in the hall with a blanket down and lots of floor toys and hides to explore. I close the doors and block the stairs with wire playpen panels.
I sit on the floor and let the hamster out on my lap and the freeroaming/playtime is like a reward and something to look forward to after a little tamung session.
I have a hamster who does not like or want out of cage time or human contact. He's been like that right from the start and i still try now and again but i can see how uncomfortable he is out of his cage. This dwarfie never asks to come out, never bar chews or climbs and doesn't even go near his door. He's happy in his own world and oblivious to everything around him. I can stroke him and he doesn't bite but a couple of strokes are enough, any more and he'll disappear down the nearest hole. He's not scared but annoyed i guess if i overstep my welcome.

I accept my hamsters for who they are so don't have a problem with that.

I think once you get to know your hamster better you'll get an idea of what he likes and what you can use as a taming reward.
A lot depends on his personality as well.

I know what you mean by not wanting to support pet shops but the way i see it is that every hamster deserves the chance of a good life, no matter where they come from because its not their fault they were born in a hamster mill.
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Old 01-07-2021, 09:41 PM   #6
Sophie M
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Smile Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
None of my hamsters really liked the playpen either. They either sat in a corner sulking or tried to get out.
What works here is freeroaming in the hall with a blanket down and lots of floor toys and hides to explore. I close the doors and block the stairs with wire playpen panels.
I sit on the floor and let the hamster out on my lap and the freeroaming/playtime is like a reward and something to look forward to after a little tamung session.
I have a hamster who does not like or want out of cage time or human contact. He's been like that right from the start and I still try now and again but i can see how uncomfortable he is out of his cage. This dwarfie never asks to come out, never bar chews or climbs and doesn't even go near his door. He's happy in his own world and oblivious to everything around him. I can stroke him and he doesn't bite but a couple of strokes are enough, any more and he'll disappear down the nearest hole. He's not scared but annoyed i guess if i overstep my welcome.

I accept my hamsters for who they are so don't have a problem with that.

I think once you get to know your hamster better you'll get an idea of what he likes and what you can use as a taming reward.
A lot depends on his personality as well.

I know what you mean by not wanting to support pet shops but the way i see it is that every hamster deserves the chance of a good life, no matter where they come from because its not their fault they were born in a hamster mill.
Thank you again for the tips. Of course every hamster is different and has a different affection tolerance and I'm just trying to figure out how much he likes. I have a couple more questions if you dont mind. Little Oreo sometimes lays in the corner and sleeps on the surface even though he has about 8 inches of burrowing bedding, plenty of hideouts and he has plastic tubes which he loved until I switched out the order of the pipes. Do you think he is uncomfortable or that I should do something? He is also always itchy and I was wondering if that is something that I should be concerned about. i have read that some hamsters release their scent by scratching but I want to rule everything serious off of the list. Thank you so much!
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Old 01-08-2021, 02:49 AM   #7
Ria P
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Default Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

My dwarf Clarissa does that sometimes and has naps on the surface and i've heard of other hamsters doing the same so i don't think its anything to worry about.

As for plastic tubes, is it just one tube to run through? Plastic tubes can be a problem when a hamster sleeps, nests, pees or hoards in them because they are hard to keep clean and condensation and mould can cause bacteria that can lead to health problems.
Hamsters love tubes though but cardboard, cork, wicker etc tunnels are far better than plastic. I use a long bendy plastic tube in the out of cage time play area and they all love running through it.

What kind of cage does Oreo live in? I find that a cage like the Hamster Heaven with all or most of the plastic removed works really well for a dwarf because the large front door makes interacting easy.

Itching and excessive grooming can be a sign of nervousness and sometimes the hamster grows out of it as they become more settled.
It can also be a sign of diabetes which was the case with one of my dwarfs who was diabetic and scratched a lot but never to the point of making his skin sore.
I would have taken him to a vet if his skin would have been red or inflamed.
It can of course indicate other issues like mites but i wouldn't want to speculate on the reason your Oreo itches. (Personally i would never have one of my hamsters treated for mites without a definite skin scrape diagnosis).

Also, what one person classes as excessive itching may be seen as normal grooming by another.
Sorry i can't be more helpful or specific on that subject.
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Old 01-08-2021, 09:05 AM   #8
Sophie M
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Thumbs up Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

Quote:
Originally Posted by SyrianNamedHarmony View Post
That's kind of weird, he comes and gets the food from your hand, but he seems totally freaked out when you touch him. Do you have a place where you could tame him? Like a taming cage or taming room or something? Maybe you should just leave him alone for a few days before trying to touch him again. Where did you get him? He might just have a bad back story and might just be scared of being touched by people. I recommend just giving him some more time time to adjust to his new home.
Yeah I agree its really bizarre. He is more than happy to sit and eat from my hand although when I touch his back lightly he goes completely psycho. He came from the pet store since we have no breeders or rescues that carry hamsters in my area other than the humane society that sadly has had no hamsters for months. I have heard of stories of pet mills hamsters being aggressive but he is more submissive if anything, even after the little freak attack he just sort of hits me with his paws to tell me to go away but he is never biting etc. I have a play pen which he does not care for but I have sort of an open concept house so the only space that I could think of is my bathroom. My past hamsters have loved the bath tub but it seems that this hamster is a lot different than the others. I have left him alone for about two days and I have just been putting the food in the bowl instead of hand feeding. Thank you so much for your help I really appreciate it!
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Old 01-08-2021, 09:30 AM   #9
Sophie M
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Default Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
My dwarf Clarissa does that sometimes and has naps on the surface and i've heard of other hamsters doing the same so i don't think its anything to worry about.

As for plastic tubes, is it just one tube to run through? Plastic tubes can be a problem when a hamster sleeps, nests, pees or hoards in them because they are hard to keep clean and condensation and mould can cause bacteria that can lead to health problems.
Hamsters love tubes though but cardboard, cork, wicker etc tunnels are far better than plastic. I use a long bendy plastic tube in the out of cage time play area and they all love running through it.

What kind of cage does Oreo live in? I find that a cage like the Hamster Heaven with all or most of the plastic removed works really well for a dwarf because the large front door makes interacting easy.

Itching and excessive grooming can be a sign of nervousness and sometimes the hamster grows out of it as they become more settled.
It can also be a sign of diabetes which was the case with one of my dwarfs who was diabetic and scratched a lot but never to the point of making his skin sore.
I would have taken him to a vet if his skin would have been red or inflamed.
It can of course indicate other issues like mites but i wouldn't want to speculate on the reason your Oreo itches. (Personally i would never have one of my hamsters treated for mites without a definite skin scrape diagnosis).

Also, what one person classes as excessive itching may be seen as normal grooming by another.
Sorry i can't be more helpful or specific on that subject.
Thank you so much for your help! I have a few tubes spread around underneath the surface so that he can go through them and have fun and for the longest time he would sleep in his favourite one until I moved it around. My boyfriend and I built it out of wood and plexiglass and there are magnets holding the lid down. There are also drill holes on the side for airflow and it is 650 sq inches. Im not too sure how to attach one of my pictures to this but I will try to figure it out.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:50 AM   #10
Ria P
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Default Re: Hamster really skittish as soon as I touch his back

That sounds a very interesting enclosure and i'd love to see it. Did you mesh the lid for ventilation? Air holes alone don't give enough air flow but i'm sure that you were aware of that when you built the habitat.

To add photos scroll down to Manage Attachments when posting and click on it then Choose File and get a photo via a camera or Gallery in Documents etc then click on Upload and wait until uploaded when a small blue line runs across the top and then click Close This Window top right hand corner which will take you back to your post with the photo attached.
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