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Old 08-06-2020, 11:21 AM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 1
Default New Hamster Help!

Hello! I am a new Hamster owner and am having a horrible start! We got my 4 year old a hamster for her bday (Unicorn) and it turned out that there was a mental issue with the hamster. She constantly would bite and was just in crazy in general. She died after only 13 days of having her. Our vet seems to think she had something wrong mentally. Well we are trying again. New hamster (Rapunzel) is so much different. She has not tried to bite at all not once even when I moved her from the transport box into the cage, which didn't go very smoothly. She seems to be very sweet. We have had her for almost a week now and she is still mostly hiding in her tubes that go across the top of the cage, but has started to come out a little to see what is going on and even took a couple of treats from me through the bars of the cage. When I tried to open the door and reach in to give her she went back into the tubes. So we were making progress. Well today I made the dumb mistake of disconnecting the tubes at the end she was not at to try and get some of the nasty out. she did come to the open end of the tube so I put her in the exercise ball I got for her so she didnt just get out. Figured I could at least spot clean a bit but only had her in there for about maybe 5 minutes. Now she is stuffing as much food in her cheeks as possible to go back to the tubes. Did I ruin all the progress we made and traumatize our poor little Rapunzel?
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: North of England
Posts: 20,597
Default Re: New Hamster Help!

Hello and welcome. I am so sorry about your hamster who does seem to have been unwell - biting can mean they are in pain. And glad it hasn’t put you off and you now have another one.

I shouldn’t worry - it is normal behaviour for hamsters to pouch good and nesting material and hoard things. In fact they are very precious about their nesting area and hoards. This is one reason why external tubes or any longer tube runs- are a bad idea as it confuses their normal behaviours. They try and nest in the tubes which get stinky and need cleaning out a lot and then they get stressed about their nest being cleaned out.

Ideally they need a house/nesting box that is open underneath and sat directly on the substrate (at least 4” if substrate depth). That is big enough to build a big nest inside. That way they can have normal behaviours and the cage stays a lot cleaner. They can bury their hoards under the nest in the substrate and burrow down to get cosy. A house at floor level is better and they then tend to choose a corner of the cage as a toilet area - and you can just spot clean that corner without needing to disturb the nest or hoard - or better still put a corner litter tray in the pee corner then the cage stays clean and dry - you just empty the litter tray once or twice a week .

So best thing would be to remove the external tubes (this gets advised a lot!) - assuming you can block them off- some cages come with blocking off caps to block tubes off.

Their other instinct is to block up the entrance to their nest - which means them blocking up the tubes and making a bigger mess. In a house they just stuff the house entrance with substrate or nesting material. I am not sure if that is privacy or to keep draughts and/or light out.

Not sure which cage you have but try putting a house on the substrate at floor level - a child’s shoebox is good for a house. Cut a hole for a door, cut the base out so it’s open underneath and keep the lid as a lift off roof.

Usual recommendation when they’ve just moved into a cage is don’t clean anything or move things round etc for the first two weeks. They need that time to settle in and scent Mark so they feel at home.

So you may have to start the two weeks again but don’t worry - it sounds good she is taking treats through the bars. It may be a bit soon for her to have out of cage time if she’s settling but see how it goes.
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:10 AM   #3
Amethyst_ice's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Birmingham
Posts: 7,575
Default Re: New Hamster Help!

Hello and welcome. Im really sorry you had such a bad experience to start with.

I echo all that Serendipity has said...all normal, remove tubes...give her time

Good luck and keep us updated x
Feel free to ask me about rat advice too
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Old 08-08-2020, 11:45 AM   #4
Newborn Pup
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Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 49
Default Re: New Hamster Help!

Hi and welcome to the forum. There has been some great advice already mentioned here, a little more patience and I am sure everything will be fine. Once your little hamster is confident that you are not a threat and can trust you then things will improve.
Hamster Pacman Maze
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Old 08-20-2020, 02:53 AM   #5
Hamster Pup
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Hampshire, UK
Posts: 126
Default Re: New Hamster Help!

Hello and welcome! it's still early days and you will definitely find some days better for taming than others. Definitely don't put pressure on yourself - the signs are encouraging.

Personally, for the reasons the others have put above, I don't like cages with tubes so it might be worth looking at Rapunzel's set-up again? Also many hams find plastic exercise balls stressful and they can cause injuries to feet - playpens and runs are a really good alternative; there's lots of threads on here about these.

Good luck and please post some pics of little Rapunzel when you can (who I assume is a long-haired hammy?! )
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