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Old 07-21-2022, 08:25 PM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Jun 2022
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Unhappy Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

So this is my first post here, oops, hi.

Anyways, I have a hamster named Brownie, named after the food (In the photo), a fawn colored hybrid dwarf with red eyes. Ever since I got him back in June he's gotten used to his home a day after getting him and has been doing alright in the taming thing a week later, making him first hamster to try such a thing with (I've had two dwarfs before him, didn't tame either), as he's just been nibbling my hand and putting his paws on me, and just has been doing better and better in terms of taming. He's been rather okay with my presence..

Well, until now.

I went to clean his cage earlier this month, just a spot clean. But I made the mistake of digging into his cage to get him out since I started to get scared that something was wrong with him, since he's usually coming out when I fiddle with his cage. And he hissed at me for the first time. But I didn't think after I spot cleaned his cage that when I put him back he'd BITE ME like a week or so later! (I can't even remember how long it's been since the cage cleaning, but it should've been long enough for his scent to get in the new bedding, as it took a week for him to stop running from me and be able to start the taming process when I first got him from the pet store, so I assumed it was the same case. It can't be a territory thing since he has a big cage, the Savic Hamster Heaven, no bar chewing or anything to show stress, and I left him alone after the spot clean, but idk.)

To state again, the worst he's done until yesterday and the day before is nibble me. I made sure to not allow him access to the tip of my fingers since that was usually what hamsters bite. But after I gave him time to adjust to his cage after the clean, when I put my hand in to try to get him used to me again. He not only BIT me but he latched on, to where it actually hurt and when I jerked my hand back he almost fell out of the cage. I know I shouldn't jerk my hand back when hamsters nibble but the thing is this is the first time I've been bitten like that and it REALLY hurt. ;;;.;;;
I thought he drew blood, he didn't thankfully, but that was the first time he hurt me like that. I thought initially after I was upset I just went in too fast and scared him, so I gave him a day to relax.

I fed him some food through the bars the next day, thinking he was fine with me now since he was taking food from me. No. The next time I put my hand in to change out his food, he LUNGED AT ME, AND HISSED at me! My own hamster basically threatened me. He's never done that before. I'm actually terrified of putting my hand in his cage whenever he's awake now because I fear he will threaten to bite me again or actually do so.

Hence why I'm here now asking for advice. I think I screwed up my ability to tame him and get him used to me permanently just by cleaning his cage so haphazardly and now he's probably always stressed around me and associates me with something dangerous. Does anyone know if he'll stop? Or if they had a hamster get aggressive a while after a spot cleaning? I actually feel kinda dejected now because of the fact that he was perfectly chill with my presence before until the last two days when it just takes a complete 180, and I'm feeling like it's best I just quit trying to tame him if he's gonna be so aggressive at this point, and I guess I've kinda been blaming myself for him being scared of me.
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Old 07-22-2022, 04:49 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

Hello and welcome to the forum. Brownie has lovely colouring. I am sorry to hear Brownie is so upset with you. I am sure other members will be able to advise you soon. I just wanted to welcome you.
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Old 07-22-2022, 06:18 AM   #3
Ria P
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

Hi and welcome to HC!

A hamster can very well be territorial in a Hamster Heaven and many don't like hands in their cages for that very reason.
I had a dwarf who would hang off my sleeve when i attempted spot cleaning, she'd threw herself at my hand and nip as well. She was very friendly when she wanted out of her cage and climb onto my hand then. Hissing really is telling us to back off and it would be the advisable thing to do.
As humans we have to respect that their cage is their home. Waking a hamster up should only be done if necessary, i.e.a vet appointment, medication or when we have reason to be concerned about their welfare.
I'd give him a week to settle without major disturbances but keep talking to him and then maybe try out of cage taming in a safe area you can sit as well, i.e. a dry bathtub.
We all do different things and have different views so this advice is only my opinion and how i attempt to tame hamsters.
I'm not brave enough to leave my hand in a dwarf's territory and i don't want them to see my hand entirely as a source for treats.
Housemate of Jack & Clive & Scottie & Finley and Bernard

always in my thoughts Percy, Henry, Gordon, Edwina, Clarissa, Betsy, Ozzy, Monty, Romy, Gertie, Rory and Rodney
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Old 07-22-2022, 10:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

I'm sorry to hear that too. Don't take it personally (hard I know). It is probably fear mainly and yes he felt invaded.

How long was he in the cage before you did the first spot clean? They need at least two weeks settling in time before they stop being skitty, but it sounds like he had that looking at the timescale.

So taming can very much be two step forwards two steps back! It's time and patience. Hamsters get more relaxed about things as they mature as well.

My suggestion would be to persist in what you're doing but wear gloves so you don't feel nervous about being bitten. So the hamster gets used to the idea that all you're doing is putting food out again. Meanwhile avoid cleaning anything for some time. It'll be fine - I left our robo a few months before spot cleaning his pee (because I couldn't find it lol and no smell coming from the cage).

So maybe start again with the two week settling in period and no handling attempts, just put food and water out and talk to him through the bars, so he starts to feel safe in your presence and familiar with your voice and sent.

They can also behave completely differently when out of the cage and taming can go much better then - because they're not territorial out of the cage. Most hamsters really don't like a hand in the cage or anything being moved or messed with. But they get used to it, if you're fairly respectful.

Our first syrian used to run at me if I put my hand in the cage - but his cage was too small and he was stressed. Our current robo also ran at me - that was early days too. He doesn't do that any more. Tiny little robo made me scream ha ha,

Our current Syrian is the first one to actually bite me properly - taming is going very slow with him. And he does it out of the cage. I've gradually learned that he only does it when he can't see my hand coming. When he's got his head down and trying to dig a hole in the carpet in the corner of the playpen. When I've put my hand there to try to move him along - that's when I get bitten.

I've solved that by adding a flying saucer to his playpen as well as a wheel and he loves the saucer so much he's stopped bothering to try and dig in the corner of the playpen.

It's been nearly four months now and I can now picking him up without him threatening to bite. It's still early days because he is still very tense when picked up and only just tolerates it for a minute or two.

It's time and patience. In our case I think our Syrian had a bad experience with hands when very young - he was still very young when I adopted him.

Your dwarf may have had some very scary experience before you got him. If he's startled it will be fear. Yes he is seeing your hand off. So wear gloves and talk to him nicely. If there's a chance he could run or fall out of the cage when running at you, put cushions on the floor near the cage (and hamsterproof the room if possible).

Maybe take things slowly for the next two or three weeks now. If he does bite you when you've got gloves on, stay calm and just say "no, naughty" in a stern voice (but don't sound angry). They really do respond to tone of voice, just like other pets. So also tell him he's clever and beautiful and sound upbeat.

Our Syrian also drew blood and for a day or so I didn't like him! But then he looked like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. It's predominantly fear and self protection. I giant thing tried to mess up his burrow and chase him! So now he's seeing the thing off. He'll learn!

In two or three weeks you could maybe find a way to get him out of the cage for some taming - it's much better to do it out of the cage. If you have a hamster ball you could see if he'd hop into it by putting that near the cage front (hamster heaven is good for that! Even just inside the cage door). Then pop the lid on and use it to carry him to a safe area where you can let him out for some out of cage time and gradual taming.

The bathtub is popular. With the plug in - make sure it's dry - add a couple of toys maybe and let him run around in there.

I have made very slow hand progress with our Syrian - if I put my hand flat, palm up, like I normally do with taming, he would bite that - and properly bite it. So a tip I learned was to put your hand in (bathtub or wherever) like a fist with only the back of your hand for him to sniff. That works. They get used to the hand and the scent.

I have now got to the stage where he'll eat food from my hand without biting me and have stopped wearing the gloves!
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Old 07-23-2022, 04:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

Hi and welcome, brownie looks a cutie, sorry to hear you’ve been bitten, the taming process can take a long time with a few nibbles in between. I’m a relatively new Syrian hamster owner and would say it’s taken around 6 months for him to feel comfortable with me to the point he’ll now walk over my flat palm and whilst eating I can give him a lovely stroke as long as I approach slowly talking to him all the time. Lots of great advice above, I’d give him some time, leave his cage other than a spot clean and go back to what you were doing initially and he’ll become friendly again as he was before
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Old 07-30-2022, 02:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

Hissing hamster - YouTube
This is hamster hissing sound, right? My hamster hissed once while he was asleep. I woke him up.

I remember my hamster started biting me as well and attacking me. He bit me so hard I was bleeding and he didn't let me go. I had to shake my hand to get him off of my finger ( I don't know if it's allowed to do so or how to behave when a hamster bites you) and I don't know why he was attacking me. It broke my heart. I left him alone for a week and only put food and fresh water when he was asleep. Then a week later he was friendly with me again.

Based on my experiences I'd leave the hamster alone for awhile.
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Old 07-31-2022, 02:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hamster suddenly biting and lunging/hissing after spot clean

The cage you have is roughly 620sq inches meaning cage aggression could definitely occur if you have a demanding hammy. I agree with above. Leave him alone for a while. Then i’d begin taming right from the beginning: talking, then treats from hands, treats on palm of hand, bathtub bonding etc. My boy started teeth chattering when I started to spot clean the first time but he immediately cooled down.

If he doesn’t get any better and starts display more stressed behaviour, such as pacing back and fourth, monkey barring etc. you might want to try him in a bigger cage and see if it helps. Luckily you have a dwarf and they are known to settle down in cages of about 800sq inches so you definitely have routes to approach if things don’t get better. Good luck!
Otto - Syrian (5 months old) - 1200sq inch cage
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cage, hamster, hand, time, clean

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