View Single Post
Old 09-11-2021, 03:29 AM  
Hamster Antics
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 23,533
Default Re: I think my hamster has some health issues? I want to confirm

He is just frightened and a bit lost. I don't think there is anything wrong with him other than fear and stress and not being settled in yet. They are VERY precious about their nest so yes he will have been very anxious about that (good that you talked to him) especially after the cage clean. Sounds like he was trying to guard it. At the moment he just feels invaded and unsafe and is reacting accordingly (plus dwarf hammies do sometimes sleep in some strange places).

Glad there were no bugs! Looks like you're on top of that now. Assume you had to remove his nest if it was pee'd in? If that happens again, try and leave at least a little bit of the old nest behind - a dry bit - even if it's slightly whiffy. That really helps to leave something a bit familiar smelling. Then put new nesting material in the cage, but not actually inside the house - let them forage for it and rebuild the nest. I usually put the pile somewhere near the house.

Anyway once this has happened (nest removed because pee'd in) they often learn not to pee in the nest again. If he has a sand bath or litter tray he may start using it as a toilet.

So the solution at the moment is time. I wouldn't try and start taming yet - you need to give him more time since the cage clean. I'd give him two weeks without disturbing anything else. Even if it gets smelly. So it's time and patience. If, during that two weeks, he shows signs of wanting to come out - eg coming to the door and looking like he wants to come out, then maybe let him walk into a tube to come out but I wouldn't put your hands in the cage to pick him up yet as he still needs to adjust to his cage and yes will see your hands as negative at the moment. He'll get over that in time.

What you can do, if necessary, is add the odd new thing - eg a few more handfuls of substrate a bit at a time - resist the temptation to mix it all up too much just add a few handfuls a bit at a time. And adding a new item is usually accepted ok (Ie not a threat), providing you don't have to move anything else to add it and don't take anything else out.

He needs the time to settle in now to avoid anxiety and let some trust build. It's hard just leaving them alone, but once he feels it's his cage, he will seem happier and doing a bit more and then be more interested in you.

It's the same for everyone after a big cage clean - there's a need to start from scratch with the two week settling in period again.

There is an awful lot of rubbish on the internet! All kinds of weird and wonderful things - so there's a need to be discerning about sources. Social media can be particularly maverick and harsh in advice.

I'd just keep asking questions on here instead. Some members are official breeders and very experienced owners and you'll get sound advice on here.

So cages. Levels aren't a problem except with pairs (pairs are a problem anyway). Height is a problem and tall cages do tend to have multiple levels. So really it's about the height of the cage rather than the number of levels with a single hamster. And that's due to safety. They can climb bars but as you said, don't see well, and can't get down easily, so they tend to just let go and drop and can then get injured. So ideally the cage for a dwarf hamster shouldn't be taller than about 36cm. 38 to 40cm max - and then you need deeper bedding to effectively reduce the height and cushion any falls. Any hard or pointy/sharp items/floor toys should be underneath something - eg underneath a shelf - in case they're landed on. So shelves can be helpful in that way.

Many hamsters are injured from falls when cages are too tall - and also from unsuitable cage items (chains are a big no no - they can get their feet caught in them and end up hanging by a broken leg). Runged ladders are a similar hazard, so ramps and ladders need to be solid.

You're getting there! You just had a setback with the bugs. At the moment he doesn't quite trust you and needs time to build up his confidence and get some trust back.

Stress can make them act a bit strange but it should wear off. They are most active at night when we're asleep and he could be busying himself and wheel running at night.

The key to a happy hamster is - minimum cage disruption (ongoing), and plenty of enrichment. Enrichment is the key word. It basically means plenty to do and variety in the cage. So plenty of substrate is one of the first things. If he had more he would probably have dug down and buried himself when scared rather than sitting beside his house - he's trying to hide, to feel safe probably (maybe doesn't feel his house is safe yet).

So enrichment is - substrate, variety - eg cardboard tubes as floor toys (kitchen roll inner tubes or toilet roll tubes), plenty of little hidey places about the cage (a cardboard egg box with an entrance cut in or small tissue box is fine), a level or shelf - I think one shelf is important - they like to sit under it and also it's somewhere to go - a shelf is also a good place to put heavier items like a food bowl or any ceramic items (if they're on the substrate they can tunnel under them and get squashed!)

They do some funny things! Tipping over the food bowl is one - but also sometimes they're trying to tell you something! It's a way of getting attention and communicating. Maybe he's trying to get your attention because something isn't right (eg wheel stuck, water bottle not letting water out or drained dry) so checking those things daily is good.

Sometimes it could be to say they don't like where you've put the food bowl - eg if it's in the way of something like his route from a to b. Unlikely. Sometimes it's because they're a bit annoyed. Sometimes it's just a game! He tips it over, you sort it out again, he tips it over again.

So we need to watch their behaviours and see what they're saying. Maybe it's a bit high for him to climb into? So he's just getting the food out.

Anyway - it's hard but I think you need to wait longer before starting hand taming. Taming can start slowly by building up trust and familiarity meanwhile. Eg keep talking to him. Offer him the odd treat through the bars (but not on your hand as he still won't accept a hand in the cage right now probably). Some hamsters never like a hand in the cage with a treat on.

Then wait till he seems more confident in his cage. When you do start hand taming, a good way to get them out at first is in a tube. Just put a tube near his house entrance (or wherever he is) on the substrate with a smelly treat at the far end. He should just walk in and you then pick up the tube with your hands over both ends and lift the tube out. To do that you need to have somewhere to put it down right next to the cage - eg a box - put the tube down in that so he can get out and then carry the box to where you want to do some taming - eg over to a playpen. Getting him out of the box again, you don't want to freak him out trying to catch him so maybe use a mug or something - see if he'll walk into that and lift him out in that with your hand over.

Maybe where gloves the first few times in case it makes you jump if he pushes at your hand when in the tube, or if you feel nervous he might bite - so you don't drop the tube with him in it!

Over time they get used to things like that - being carried out of the cage.

Over time they get used to your hand doing a bit of spot cleaning (although may follow your hand around keeping an eye on it!).

The cage is now his home and territory so he is guarding it against invaders and predators. The thing to remember is they are tiny and they are prey species, so until they build confidence, they think everything is a possible predator going to get them. When they have trust in you they are less scared.

Hamsters don't usually bite or hiss unless they are frightened, in pain or being handled or treated roughly. So it isn't normal behaviour for them. Your hamster may be the type to just go blank rather than hiss if he's stressed.

If you want to see him at night and have a peek at what he's up to then maybe just turn on a small lamp so it's not too dark (not all night - just when you go in the room). Although he may just disappear when the light comes on so you won't see him do much anyway! Or sometimes they just freeze (prey instinct again). It's true it's not good to disturb their dark patterns by turning lights on. Can upset their biorhythms. But as a one off now and then probably ok.

Things will be different when he's tamer and more bonded with you and you can then get into a routine of waking him for feeding around early evening etc. By just making a bit of cage noise when putting food and water out. They get to learn what time you do that and wake up to get the food. That's the time you can start getting them out for taming, when he's ready.

You mentioned changing the water bottle a few times a day. That's too much really and will freak him out more as well. Daily is fine. And again have a routine - do it around the same time every day - early evening - and put his food out at the same time. And any bit of veg or treat.
Pebbles82 is offline   Reply With Quote