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Old 07-20-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
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Default Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

Hi. I've never had a hamster, but I've had gerbils. They are lively little things, but I learned how to handle them in a short time--how to hold them so that they couldn't squirm out of my hands, by knowing what to expect and feeling what they're starting to do and compensating, or whatever it is that we learn.

Has anyone had both? Would I have no trouble with hamsters if I had no trouble with gerbils?

I'm trying to decide between a Syrian hamster and a Campbell's/Winter White.
Someone suggested I needed to get a Syrian, the first time, because of no experience handling hamsters. So that's one vote for Syrian. Next?
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Old 07-20-2021, 01:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

I've had both. I kept gerbils for several years before getting a Robo, and then a Russian dwarf and I've handled Syrians a lot too. If you're used to gerbils you should have no trouble with hamsters, with the possible exception of Robos which are very fast.

Syrians and Russian dwarfs can certainly be fast when they want to be, but most of the time they're slower than gerbils and Robos. Robos are more difficult to handle than gerbils I find because they're very timid, they seem to zip around without stopping and they're tiny and squirmy. Gerbils are outgoing and curious, they'll stop to investigate you or things in the environment and they're bigger and a bit easier to hold onto when you need to.

Russian dwarfs sometimes don't like being picked up inside their cage and are happier when you let them walk into a jar or tube, then onto your hand. Mine is fine with being picked up, but not all are. Syrians can often be jumpy but I've often found once you let them know you're there by letting them sniff your hand, and then stroking their back, they can be picked up fairly easily, unless they're very timid. Russian dwarfs can also sometimes be nippy when young, especially when young, though this shouldn't be confused with cage aggression which is a different issue. Cage aggression affects some Russian dwarfs, especially when they're in a cage that's too small, and it causes them to lunge and bite at hands in their cage. They tend to be fine outside their cage though. Syrians and Robos rarely bite at all.

A lot of people say Syrians are much easier than Russian dwarfs, and so beginners should always get Syrians, but although they are quite different, I don't think one is really much harder than the other, as long as you're aware of how to handle them. I think you should whichever one appeals to you more. There's also nothing wrong with having a Robo as a first hamster, though they are more of a challenge.
Kebab (Syrian) and Tilly, Wispa, Astra & Twiglet (gerbils)
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Old 07-20-2021, 02:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

Thank you. This is just what I needed to know.

There was the cutest little Russian dwarf in the pet store today, out walking around at mid-morning. I wanted him sooooo much! As soon as I get a cage, the next one I see like that is coming home to it.

The memories of gerbils are calling too, but their need of a friend has been problematic when one of the pair died.
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

Sushi provided you with all the information required, I can't personally help as I've never owned gerbils.

But wanted to step in and say something as well.

A lot of people say Syrians are the 'beginners' hamster but they're really not. In fact Syrians are actually a little more difficult compared to some other species of hamster that you can own.

Yes, Syrians are easier to tame. However, depending on personality they can really vary. Some can be quite aggressive. As well, it is known that Syrians are also very hard to please compared to other species.

There's a video actually here that I just remembered about after typing out the above paragraph, by someone called Victoria Raechel. A really well known hamster YouTuber with 499k subscribers. She actually completely disagrees a Syrian is a beginners hamster because of the fact that they're so hard to please.

You can watch this as she'll mention their personalities etc.

What is the BEST beginner hamster? - YouTube
Age: 20 years old Hamsters I currently own: 2 Hamsters at the Rainbow Bridge: 1
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Old 07-21-2021, 01:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a beginner's hamster.

Hamsters are individuals with their own personalities and we have to respect them as such.
Species doesn't come into it the same way as race is irrelevant in humans when it comes to personality.

I don't own hamsters, they are part of the family who live here.

A good way to find out about a hamster's personality is to look into adopting one or go with the one you feel drawn to, the one you can't get out of your head or comes to you.

This happened to me with two pet shop hamsters, a Syrian boy and a dwarf girl and they were both lovely.
The Syrian sat on my knee and there was no way i could have put him back into the tiny tank with the others and the dwarfie climbed onto my hand. Sometimes they chose us.
Housemate of Rory & Rodney & Jack & Clive & Scottie & Finley

always in my thoughts Percy, Henry, Gordon, Edwina, Clarissa, Betsy, Ozzy, Monty, Romy and Gertie
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Old 07-25-2021, 06:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Are hamsters as easy to handle as gerbils?

Hi, and thank you for the additional notes. "They choose us"--I like that. It's seemed like that with most of the pets I've had.

Anyway, the answer seems to be to get whatever hamster is the most appealing, from among what's available, which is a problem here lately. I've seen no gerbils in the pet stores over the last month, and only a few hamsters, sometimes just Syrians. There have also been no other small furries. (I looked for local breeders with no success.)

What I decided: To get a huge aquarium (40 gallon) with a screened lid, so that I'll be ready for whoever presents himself/herself and seems lively and healthy. They're going to have to come out of their hiding places for at least a few minutes IN THE DAYTIME to get the nice big home. I saw one do that, a really cute dwarf, in the store last week. Maybe, too, the staff can tell me which individual ones are being the most agreeable.
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gerbils, hamster, hamsters, syrian, trouble

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