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Old 02-19-2021, 06:20 AM   #1
Dodo
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Red face new nervous hamster owner

Hi everyone!

My family bought a Syrian hamster a month ago today. His name is Cloudy, he is more or less 3 months, and he is very cute. I am, as many new owners here , quite nervous about the whole taming process (it doesn't help that my 6 and 7 years old are both scared and very eager to play with the hamster...). I had a few bservations and was hoping a could get some comment from you all.

I have tried a few taming sessions outside his cage, and I have taken him out when I am cleaning the cage as well. My impression is that he gets very scared outside his cage. He is not exploring at all (although we placed toys and treats in the bathtub, in a playpen, and in a smaller plastic bin) but just hides somewhere until I manage to get him back to his cage. Will that fade away if I take him out every night in the same setting? or will it get worse?

I have therefore tried to tame him into his cage, placing my hand with treats. He is happy to come to us and take treats through the bars, or even from our fingers in the cage, but from my hand that seems really difficult. Shall I persevere for a week or two? Or try something else?

He doesn't seem to be much of a biter but he is really shy. Although now he manages to forge, and drink and eat when we're around, I have never managed to see him on his wheel (I know he uses it all night though, as I can hear it )

Last thing: his cage. We bought a quite classix 80 x 50 bar cage, which we arranged with sand bath, wheel, various houses and hides, chews etc. He really seems to like it. But after much reading I was afraid this was too small (although the hamster seems quite on the small side for a syrian) and I bought a Detolf. My question is: should I move him to the Detolf? Or wait until he is tamed? (which will take a loong time I am afraid).

Any thoughts and ideas are very welcome. Thank you all for reading so far!

Dodo
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:20 AM   #2
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Hi, welcome and congratulations

I would leave him where he is for now. I would work with him in a small box or you said you had a plastic bin. Make sure there are hides and tunnels/tubes etc in there, if you havent already. Sometimes it just takes time and patience. Maybe work one on one with him if you arent doing that already.
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Old 02-20-2021, 02:22 AM   #3
Ria P
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

I wouldn't move Cloudy into a bigger cage now and a 80x50 is a good size, maybe later when he's more confident. Both my Syrians live in 80x50 cages.
Opinions vary on this one and a lot of people think that a hamster needs a cage as big as possible. I think that it depends on the individual hamster. Some need lots of space and others feel exposed and intimitated by it.

He's probably still settling in and making his home in his habitat. To help him feel comfortable and relaxed keep cleaning to a minimum or you remove his scent. A 80x50 cage with deep, paperbased substrate only needs spot cleaning for the first month or so. Syrians often use a sand filled toilet and poops don't smell so are nothing to worry about.

Taming also depends on a hamster's personality. Some are naturally comfortable with humans and others do not want human interaction at all. I have seven hamsters and they all have very different personalities.

There are different approaches to taming and there's no set formula. With a nervous hamster i start off with just sitting by their cage and talking to them for a couple of weeks to give them a chance to become familiar with their surroundings. If they come up to the bars i offer a treat and if they let me i stroke them lightly.

I tame outside their cages and use freedom as a reward but not everyone has a safe area to do that.
I let them walk into a jug with a treat in it if needed and then sit on the floor in a hamster proof area. I have a room but a bathtub, large playpen or hall with the doors closed would work as long as you can sit down with them.
I let the hamster walk and sniff around on my lap so they get used to my smell but keep sessions short and put them back if they get stressed. A few sunflower seeds scattered around keeps them busy. After a few sessions of that i move on to lightly stroking their backs and once they tolerate that cup my hand around their body. I then lift them slightly and gradually increase height and duration of the pick up exercises. Then its pick up, let run and pick up until they're comfortable with getting picked up and handled.
These sessions i spread out over a number of days or weeks depending on the hamster because i work at their pace not mine.
Once i can pick them up i let them free roam which they love but often they run off my lap before they're tame and i catch them by putting food in a jug and wait till they walk in.

I'm not saying that my method would work for Cloudy but you may be able to use some of it.
It can take a lot of time and patience to tame a hamster. I only tame when the hamster is fully awake and may try to tempt them out of their nest by rustling the substrate or offering a treat but don't take them out of their nest.

It must be more difficult to put a nervous hamster at ease with young children around because hamsters do get frightened easily so you may have to ask your kids to just watch at first and to be as quiet as possible while you tame the new family pet.
Your kids should be able to gently handle, stroke and hold him eventually under adult supervision of course but hamsters aren't really pets young children can play with and many sleep during the day.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:17 AM   #4
Dodo
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Hiya!

Thank you both for replying and for the detailed taming advice, much appreciated and very helpful. We did end up changing Cloudy's cage yesterday (I had promised my children, my husband was on board etc.) and I was a bit nervous about how he'd react. Of course I'll have a better idea in the next few days and weeks, but yesterday evening he seemed so pleased to roam his big enclosure. He immediately starting strutting around, foraging for his scattered mix and herbs and was happy to take some snacks from us. The massive sandbath also seems like a big hit, and this morning I found out he actually moved his nest to the small house I had placed there Anyway we'll see how big of a set back this is regarding the taming process, when you're unexperienced it is so hard to figure out whether this is a shy but willing hamster or just an untamable one that will never enjoy human contact. I'll keep doing out of cage taming once my kid are asleep for the next few weeks and see where that takes us. Thank you again for taking the time to reply to my message!
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:40 PM   #5
Ria P
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

That's great news that Cloudy likes his new enclosure!
Did you make meshed lids for the detolf?

I started keeping hamsters nearly two years ago and couldn't have managed without the helpful people on this forum. I asked endless questions because i was often puzzled my hamsters behaviour and concluded that many times they do the very opposite of what you expect them to do.

They are lovely little creatures and i couldn't imagine life without them now. Please feel free to share your experiences with Cloudy and photos are always welcomed here.
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Old 02-26-2021, 02:04 AM   #6
Ria P
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

I tried to reply on your other thread but for some unknown reason it won't let me do it.

There are rescues in the Oxford/Swindon area. Have a look on pets4homes and preloved where they sometimes advertise hamsters that need rehoming. People who rehome would be able to tell you about the temperament of a hamster.


You can also respond to Gumtree or Shpock adverts where people advertise hamsters they no longer want but there's no guarantee of course that the hamster is as tame as people say they are.

I'd prepare by setting up your cage now so its all ready for a hamster to move in when you find one. Rescues will ask for proof and photos of a suitable habitat.
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Last edited by Ria P; 02-26-2021 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 02-26-2021, 07:29 AM   #7
Dodo
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Hi Ria!
Yes I've been keeping an eye out but apart from one already reserved I have seen nothing in my area. It's just about being patient! For some reason I feel 75% of hamsters waiting to be rehomes seem to be around Manchester/ Birmingham at the moment...

I'll have to be patient, because there is no way in hell I am returning to Pets at home and their terrified untamed hamsters
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:51 AM   #8
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodo View Post
Hi Ria!
Yes I've been keeping an eye out but apart from one already reserved I have seen nothing in my area. It's just about being patient! For some reason I feel 75% of hamsters waiting to be rehomes seem to be around Manchester/ Birmingham at the moment...

I'll have to be patient, because there is no way in hell I am returning to Pets at home and their terrified untamed hamsters
The petshop hamsters haven't been handled but you should be able to tame a baby hamster. Some take more time than others no matter where they come from.

I have a Syrian who came to me as a terrified and traumatised baby but with lots of patience and time he became a confident and tame hamster. I find that i form an even stronger bond with a hamster who needs more of my help than the ones who are born tame and i have one of those from the petshop as well. I love them all but there is something special about watching a shy hamster slowly learn to trust their human family. You'll see.

What kind of cage do you have? Is it the Hamster Heaven?
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:31 AM   #9
Dodo
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Thanks that’s encouraging. Not being super experienced I find it really hard to bond with him, although he is so cute and sweet, not aggressive or nippy. I had him in a regular 80x50 and now he is in an Ikea Detolf. He has been in his new cage for a week only, and I can tell he is still getting used to it. I know it’ll take time, but time is tricky with nocturnal animals and I haven’t got all night . For the past week every night I’ve been sitting next to the cage, speaking softly and offering treats. I’m waiting another couple of weeks to take him out for proper taming sessions.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:10 AM   #10
Ria P
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Default Re: new nervous hamster owner

Some don't want human interaction every night anyway so give yourself a break and don't feel that you have to sit with your hamster every evening. He can hear the normal family and domestic sounds which is something he will have to get used to as well. In fact, try and relax. Some fairly new hamsters are more likely to come out of their houses when they can't see, hear or smell a human or when the lights are off.
I have a dwarf living in our bedroom who is a very tame and friendly rescue hamster. Soon as the light is off she's out of her house and on her wheels. Her favourite time to interact with us humans is in the morning around 07.30/08.00. Soon as we open her door she hops onto our hand and comes out to play and freeroam in a safe area.

It is possible that Cloudy prefers the mornings as well. It really is a matter of getting to know your hamster and observe him as he establishes habits and routines.

If your kids are getting upset because they don't see the new pet much you could look into getting a night camera like the ones used for babies, little elf etc. That way they could watch a recording of what Cloudy has been up to during the night when they were asleep. Just a thought.
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