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Old 02-02-2017, 09:33 PM   #1
personalbeehive
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Unhappy Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

I've had my Syrian, Sigourney, for about a month and a half now. I used to have her in a small plastic cage I got from the pet store but wised up and bought a big 40 gallon aquarium for her to stay in. Every time i've tried to hold her i get bitten. I've washed my hands with non-scented soap and still she smells then bites the heck out of me. There's that and just the general concern i'm doing everything wrong. Any help or advice would be appreciated, I just want her to live a good life, you know?
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Old 02-03-2017, 09:52 AM   #2
Pygmypuff
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Hi!

First of all, I don't think there's any way you're not a good hamster dad if you're coming here for help! This obviously means you care enough to want to give her a good life. That's the first step of being an awesome hamster parent!!

It's good that you were able to get her a proper tank to live in! That's an excellent start!

Questions;

What species of hamster is Sigourney?
What enrichment do you have in her tank?
What are you feeding her?

Did you introduce yourself gradually to her or did you just try and start picking her up all at once? If you just went for it and starting picking her up, this is why she'll be biting you - she's frightened and not used to you yet!

If she's a Roborovski, she might not be very tame ever. Although you can get some very friendly Robos, in general, they are a little more skittish than other hamsters!

If she's a Syrian, Campbell's Russian, Winter White or Chinese, try this method:

I would start all over again with her - first, give her a bit of time and space, maybe a day or two, so she can just relax and get used to her environment without the fear of big scary human hands. While she's settling in, wear some tissue in your sleeve for a day and then place it in her cage to give her something to make a bed out of that smells of you, so she can get used to your scent.

When you feel she's settled enough, start leaving treats, such as sunflower seeds, outside her den. Gradually, hold them up to her so she can take them from you. If she doesn't take them straight away, be patient and give her some more time, but keep trying! Once she's taking treats from your fingers, place some treats on the palm of your hand and rest your hand in her cage. Hopefully, she'll start coming onto your hand! Keep doing this until she sits on your hand to eat the treat, then gently lift her off the ground. Repeat this, lifting her a little higher each time, until you are able to comfortably hold her so she feels safe and secure.

Do you have any questions that you would like to ask? Because there are so many wonderful and knowledgeable people here, and someone will know the answer to every question you have!!

I can't promise I can answer all your questions but I am certainly willing to try and help you and your hammy best in any way I can!!

Goodluck!
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:33 AM   #3
Hamsterita
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

I totally agree with Pygmypuff.

You aren't a bad dad if you're worried for her. And buying a new tank for her it's a sign that you care.

I think that Pygmypuff advise is right and I don't have much to add. Just be patient. A month isn't a long time. And if you're afraid that she's going to bite you, you can use gardener gloves, but don't rush things.

We are here to help!
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Old 02-03-2017, 11:00 AM   #4
personalbeehive
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pygmypuff View Post
Hi!

First of all, I don't think there's any way you're not a good hamster dad if you're coming here for help! This obviously means you care enough to want to give her a good life. That's the first step of being an awesome hamster parent!!

It's good that you were able to get her a proper tank to live in! That's an excellent start!

Questions;

What species of hamster is Sigourney?
What enrichment do you have in her tank?
What are you feeding her?

Did you introduce yourself gradually to her or did you just try and start picking her up all at once? If you just went for it and starting picking her up, this is why she'll be biting you - she's frightened and not used to you yet!

If she's a Roborovski, she might not be very tame ever. Although you can get some very friendly Robos, in general, they are a little more skittish than other hamsters!

If she's a Syrian, Campbell's Russian, Winter White or Chinese, try this method:

I would start all over again with her - first, give her a bit of time and space, maybe a day or two, so she can just relax and get used to her environment without the fear of big scary human hands. While she's settling in, wear some tissue in your sleeve for a day and then place it in her cage to give her something to make a bed out of that smells of you, so she can get used to your scent.

When you feel she's settled enough, start leaving treats, such as sunflower seeds, outside her den. Gradually, hold them up to her so she can take them from you. If she doesn't take them straight away, be patient and give her some more time, but keep trying! Once she's taking treats from your fingers, place some treats on the palm of your hand and rest your hand in her cage. Hopefully, she'll start coming onto your hand! Keep doing this until she sits on your hand to eat the treat, then gently lift her off the ground. Repeat this, lifting her a little higher each time, until you are able to comfortably hold her so she feels safe and secure.

Do you have any questions that you would like to ask? Because there are so many wonderful and knowledgeable people here, and someone will know the answer to every question you have!!

I can't promise I can answer all your questions but I am certainly willing to try and help you and your hammy best in any way I can!!

Goodluck!
Sigourney is a long-haired Syrian! If you mean entertainment by enrichments, I have a big wheel (perfect size for her, her back is straight not bent at all), a plastic "playground with a small slide, some tubes on the ground for her to crawl through, and a medium-sized igloo. I feel as if my habitat is bare compared to others. I've given her willow sticks and various other wood chews but she doesn't seem to like them, as she chews for a little while and then ignores them.This (https://www.petsmart.com/small-pet/f...ood-21987.html) is what I feed her, though i'm open to feeding her something new if thats what she needs. This is her habitat, seems a little sparse compared to others and i'm afraid shes not enjoying her time with me.
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

A new and better food is definitely necessary.The protein is far too low,as is the fat,and there are some questionable ingredients

You could feed Carefresh Complete mixed with Higgins Sunburst,which I personally feed my Syrian.That combination gives great nutrition and is completely safe,but it does need a bit of extra protein in the form of meat like freeze dried or boiled chicken(Pure Bites for example,which is very good)and you can also add a few extra seeds,nuts,and other safe foods as treats.The mix is just 1 tablespoon of Carefresh and 1/2 tablespoon of Higgins,and it ends up lasting quite a while with just one hamster as I've had both foods since I got my hamster around the end of October and I still have an amount that should last no less than a month more.

Another option would be Mazuri rat and mouse lab blocks and Higgins Sunburst,but that would require more precise measurements using a scale and the lab blocks can be difficult to find in store.I prefer Carefresh personally since the pieces are just right in size and no breaking would be necessary,plus it does have certain pieces which add more variety even if only in terms of texture.Either would work though,and it just comes down to personal preference

Not many hamsters end up chewing wood.Loofah,dandelion root,Whimzees dog chews(not Greenies as these are not anywhere near as healthy and wouldn't be as good a texture to wear down teeth),and quite a few other alternative chews are great options.Dog biscuits can be good if you get high quality ones with no biproducts or additives or other unsafe ingredients,which can get expensive if you get them from pet stores.However,Dollar General sell some that are cheaper than Milk Bones but much safer with none of the nasty additives and junk that just isn't healthy for any pet to be eating!
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

I don't think you sound like a bad ham dad, the fact you are asking for advice is always a good thing.

Like others have said I think you need to take it slow with taming as not all hamsters warm up to people as quickly as others. When I get a new hamster I always feel worried im going to get a nip but I use the bath tub technique and that always works.

All you do is use a container like a small cardboard box and lure your hamster into it. Then you use a bathtub or other enclosed space like a playpen and you just sit in there and let your hamster out of the box. Just let them sniff and explore you, if they are interested and approaching you they are not likely to bite. Don't pick them up, just let the hamster do their own thing and get used to you, when you want to put them back in their cage heard them back into the box. I did this every night for 2 weeks with my current hamster, only after that did I actually hold him and he was fine with it.
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Hello - the others have said it all really She is scared and probably isn't used to being handled (or has been handled roughly in the past). Taming does need to be done gradually. Our hammy used to run at your hand if you put it in the cage. We never were able to get him to take a treat from the palm of the hand. We went straight to bathtub taming which worked for us.

You tempt the hammy into a tube with a hamster ball at the far end of it - a piece of cheese at the end of the tube near the ball (or put a hamster ball in the tank and see if they hop in). We'd then gently carry our hammy to the bathtub (dry of course and with the plug in) and have a couple of toys/hidey places in there - a cardboard kitchen roll tube and a mug on its side eg. And take the lid off the ball but leave the ball in there. It's a safe place for them to run around without escaping. Ours tended to just repetitively try and run up the side of the bath and then slither down again! From there you can start getting her used to touch and your scent. We used to try to stroke our hammies back with one finger but he would jerk his head round threatening to bite which made us pull back. You can use an old toothbrush instead of your finger - just in case she tries to bite. Gradually ours stopped jerking his head round so much when the finger stroked his back. The turning point was when he started to turn his head and then had this look of "oh I can't be bothered it's you again" and carried on slithering up and down the bath. From there we were able to cup a hand under his tummy, lift him a cm and then let him walk off without trying to hold on to him and the following night we could pick him up and he was tame as anything ever since.

So that might be the way to go. We did it a couple of nights a week. Also there's the tissue trick (you put some sheets of toilet paper up your sleeve for a couple of hours then tear each sheet into strips and put a big pile of the torn up strips of toilet paper somewhere in the tank. You should see the pile go down very gradually (can take a while). Your hammy will pouch some and take it back to refurbish the nest and will get used to your scent that way.

Other than that the only thing I can think that could be making her aggressive (usually fear and being territorial about the tank) is if you have cleaned her out too soon. ie stolen her hoard and wrecked her nest lol!

Usually it's recommended to leave them alone completely for the first 2 or 3 days while they're settling in and adjusting, and then not to do a clean for the first two weeks. If things get particularly whiffy after a week you can spot clean an area she has chosen to pee in - eg take a handful of substrate out and replace it with another handful of clean and mix it in.

They scent mark in the early days, to find their way around so moving things around or cleaning things means they feel a bit lost and anxious.

It's great that you got her a nice tank and it looks good. My only observation might be that there is a fair bit of open space and she might feel a bit exposed, which could also make her stressy.

They sometimes like shredding cardboard (also for nesting material) so if you have a tissue box or two or similar (no staples obviously), cut a hole in for a door or a side out of the box and plonk them in the middle - it's a hiding place between one end and the other. A platform of some kind could help too. They really like having a shelf to sit on and under. The feel safe under it but for some reason like sitting on top too!

So I'd suggest more hidey places.
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Hey don't be tough on yourself! A good ham dad is one who cares about how they're caring for their little ones, and that's precisely what you're doing! Most advice I'd offer has been said on here already, but I'll reiterate and maybe add some tips! A 40 gallon is a fine sized tank and probably the bare minimum I'd ever recommend for a Syrian, but the bigger you can go, the better! Bin cages are excellent and if you're in the US, there's a very large bin called the "IRIS Christmas tree storage bin" and this can be an excellent habitat for under $30! Definitely switch her food over to one with less fat and higher protein levels. Hazel/Harry hamster is consider superior and overall the best food you could feed your hamster plus it has few dyes and no preservatives if you choose not to go with hazel/Harry hamster, choose something with a minimum of 16% protein (you won't find a store bought food with protein higher than this and thus you'll need to supplement with things such as mealworms, crickets, cooked chicken, and tofu) and something with the lowest fat content possible. More than just nutritional foods, choose a food with no dyes and preservatives (stay far away from all kaytee brands). Hazel/Harry hamster would be the easiest option out there, and would definitely save time and money. As for your set up, you could maybe add a few more things like sisal and seagrass tunnels/mats as well as hammocks/rat sputniks and cardboard "castles" for your little ham to play in! You said your wheel is a good size and if her back isn't bent, then it's fine, but if it starts to bend, go for a large size wheel like the silent runner or wodent wheel.

You mentioned her being bitey, and hamsters often do this when they feel threatened. Take things slow and just start by leaving toilet paper with your scent on it along with speaking softly to her through her tank. Then put your hand in her tank and feed her treats when she explores without biting or nibbling. Then you can move on to petting and lifting her out inside of something like a cup and letting her into a bathtub. This bathtub will be where she gets her excercise plus you can sit in it while she runs and that will help her get used to you AND have a fun playground at the same time! The key to success is to take it slow and take the time to really become friends with your hamster, and she'll respond in the same way as you best wishes, be patient and persistent and she'll come around soon
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:57 PM   #9
personalbeehive
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Thanks for the advice everyone! I've bought hanging toys for her to play with and chew on but im not sure how to put them up now that i have an aquarium for her habitat. Any advice for that?
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Old 02-03-2017, 12:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Not sure if i'm a good hamster dad

Hazel/Harry Hamster are sugar-free too They contain all the nutrients and vitamins needed and you can supplement the protein a bit as Drago says. An occasional piece of cheese or half a brazil nut or walnut goes down well here. I think sugar free is good because hammies can get tooth decay like us and need vet visits and problems then.
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