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Old 05-18-2023, 02:47 PM  
LotusUnfurls
Newborn Pup
 
Join Date: May 2023
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 2
Unhappy Seeking Advice for Extremely Fearful Syrian

First of all, hello Been passingly aware of this place for a while now but finally got around to making an account and peeking in properly, and I'm also looking for advice.

About a month ago I received my syrian hamster, Tate (then ~3 months old, now about 4) from Nantucket Hamstery in Northern IL. He seemed to be a healthy, curious young man and coped with the ride home well enough in the carrier + hide I supplied. He was placed in a 60 gal aquarium with a 12" wheel, 10" bedding at the deep end, a few different hideouts and plenty of sprays as well as a niteangel two chamber hide on stilts. Bedding is aspen + orchard grass (which I'm not a fan of and want to replace eventually with paper).

So.

He's proven to be difficult to approach without stressing him out badly, and it's definitely been a trial and error process. For a while he was curious enough to take food from my fingers but since settling into a burrow he made in the furthest corner beneath the multi-chamber box. He only seems to come out in the absolute latest hours when I definitely won't be awake even on the weekends.

The thing is. My attempts to get him to adjust to my presence and be more comfortable--the treats, the offers to sniff my hand, the me-scented tissue--not only don't seem to work but seem to further stress him out each time I attempt them. A few times I would, making sure he was awake, gently lift the lid of the two-room hideout to coax him with treats. He'd take them but never, ever leave the hide.

Someone on the r/hamsters subreddit (which I've since left behind) warned me this was stressing him very badly because I'd effectively made his safe space unsafe. I've stopped doing it, especially since a few times after that he'd come out in the middle of the night and just screamed. Couple of weeks ago I finally had to just get him out so I could clean his burrow because I hadn't been able to spot clean it due to his skittishness and refusal to come out, and when I finally did it was saturated in urine I never smelled because the lid held the ammonia in. I tried the cup taxi method and he leapt out immediately.

As of this post I've been much slower in my coaxing efforts--gentle speaking, treats, never lifting the lid much or trying to make him come out--but it feels now as though everything I try makes him more averse. I was advised to start reading to him regularly to build a routine to help him get used to my voice and I started reading last night; today I notice he hasn't touched the food or treats I left at all.

Is there anything to be done? It's not even an issue of being able to pick him up and cuddle him so much as "my little dude your burrow smells like a sewer and it NEEDS cleaning but you're going to lose your mind when I do so and I don't want this for you." His breeder kindly suggested I prepare my plastic bin (50 gal), put him in that, and just gently but assertively handle him each day until he calms down; someone else said this was a catastrophically bad idea, so I hesitated.

I don't know what to do. He can be a ghost lad, that's okay, but I still need to be able to clean and such. The way it is now it feels like everything I try terrifies him.

Interestingly, my recently acquired dwarf Juniper--who came from a pet store--is MUCH less anxious. She's wary but she won't bolt from my fingers, and she's comfortable doing her hamster business when I'm present.

Sorry for the massive post!
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