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Old 10-09-2017, 04:55 AM   #1
MaryRobinson
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Default Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

Hi all,

So, a year after signing up on here and doing all my research, I somewhat surprisingly got not a new baby hammy from a local breeder but an adopted girl from a colleague whose children had - surprise surprise - grown tired of their pet. She's between 4.5-6 months old and we've re-christened her Dora.

I've 'babysat' hamsters before but never owned one outright, so am a newbie but like to think I've read enough to be pretty confident about taking on a hamster. I've got a lovely haul of Rodipet stuff which I'm introducing to the new girl slowly and she is actually very social and happy.

I'm re-taming her as I hear that she was never properly tamed; they got her from a pet store and started handling her immediately. She did bite, but then, with three children under 7 prodding you, who wouldn't!

I have had Dora a week and she's sweet: will take treats from my fingers and come up to say hello. I'm using the bathtub method and she is now very happy to clamber all over me - with the exception of my hands. She won't go near them. I can put a treat 1mm away from my motionless palm and she'll take it. Put it on the tip of my fingers and she will ignore it.

So, she's a social hamster with a hand phobia! Any thoughts as to how I can help her? Treats in the palm of the hand seem completely uninteresting. If I have my hands out flat, motionless, she will actively avoid treading on them. She's climb on my arm, but not hands. My husband has managed to get her to take a treat from his but she ran off with it.

What do you think - be patient and keep on with the bathtub method, or try something else? I haven't picked her up or stroked her since we got her except when she tried to jump off me to the edge of the bath when I cupped her to stop her falling - she squeaked loudly!

I am doing the hand wash/rub in substrate/wear tissue down bra and give as bedding techniques etc. Shall I just persevere? Do things differently?

Thanks all!!

Last edited by souffle; 10-09-2017 at 05:53 AM. Reason: remove store name
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Old 10-09-2017, 12:08 PM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

It sounds as though you're doing all the right things & she's coming on well, a week isn't long at all so I would just carry on as you are & give her more time to get used to you & her new home.
If she has been poked, grabbed or handled roughly by kids then she may be a bit wary of hands for a while but I'm sure she'll come round with time.
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Old 10-09-2017, 03:25 PM   #3
MaryRobinson
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

Thanks, Cypher! I will keep on with it. It is early days. She’s such a cutie, we won’t give up on her. I love when she wakes up with ‘bed haur’ before She’s groomed- dinky! Thanks for the reassurance.
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Old 10-10-2017, 01:46 PM   #4
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

I think it's time and patience. She has probably been handled roughly before and had bad experiences with hands. She may learn to trust you and your hands or she may always prefer to avoid them, but not all hamsters like being held anyway. Our last Syrian was lovely and tame (but it took two months of bathtub taming before we could pick him up!) and he would happily sleep on my knee under a blanket or sit in the curve of my arm for a stroke, but he never did like being held in hands that much.

I would keep doing the bathtub taming - you've only had her a week so she is doing well. It does take a lot of patience and so frustrating when you want to hold them! Just let her run around in the bathtub with some toys. Occasionally give her a little stroke on the back with one finger. If she jerks away leave it till another time. Eventually she should accept a stroke on the back with one finger. Then move onto cupping a hand under her while she's in the bathtub and just lift her 1cm or so but don't hold her, let her walk off your hand. Next time do this again, maybe once or twice. The time after try lifting her a bit further and see if she will walk from hand to hand. They learn to trust gentle handling. Also keep talking to her in a gentle tone so she gets used to your voice. And she also needs time just to adjust and settle in
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:35 PM   #5
Thin Lizzy
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

Congratulations on adopting Dora, such a lovely name.
Talking quietly, softly and praising them is what I've always done, Dora will sense that you're different as your more gentle than kids who can be quite rough. You're doing a great job.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:54 AM   #6
MaryRobinson
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

Thanks so much Serendipity7000 and Thin Lizzy! That's made me feel much better. Actually she's started putting a paw on my hand and she even ate from my husband's had briefly yesterday, so it is working! I'm keeping her very soothed and calm as i think her last home was quite busy and noisy and there was a new dog eyeing her up for its next meal!! Traumatic.

We chose 'Dora' because it means gift in Greek (family connections in greece) and also she's a feisty girl who is always exploring: Dora the explorer! Once I've worked out how, I'll post some pics as she is also aDORAble!!
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

I think you and your husband are doing great with your precious Dora. It hasn't been long since you gave her a home with you. Just keep doing what you are doing, and I'm sure in time she will continue to gain more confidence and become even tamer, too. She is very lucky to have all of your love and patience. I love her name and its meaning, too. I can't wait to see some pics whenever you have a chance to post them.
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Old 10-14-2017, 03:02 PM   #8
Thin Lizzy
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Default Re: Adopted syrian is social but afraid of hands!

Aww at Dora putting her paw on your hand. Sounds like your wonderful "gift" is settling into her loving and calmer new home.
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hands, shes, hand, social, hamster, motionless, put, fingers, method, bathtub, treats, treat, happy, adopted, palm, surprise, children, girl, dora, phobia, wash/rub, differently, substrate/wear, ignore, exception

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