One of the biggest concerns of hamster owners is probably hamster aggression. Hamster aggression is when a hamster acts hostile and does things like biting and attacking you. We all heard the story from a friend or even personal experience that a hamster bit a finger and drew blood.
In many cases, this is the reason why a lot of people give up their pet hamsters. In this article, we will discuss why hamsters are trying to bite you, how to spot warning signs, and of course, how to get hamsters to stop biting.
WHY IS MY HAMSTER BITING ME
One thing you should remember is that your hamster doesn’t hate you. When a hamster bites or attacks, there’s always a reason, mostly due to their instinct. Below, I will help you understand your hamster more, why this biting behaviour occurs, and how to stop, minimise, or handle it.
Hamsters are naturally aggressive. Because of their size, hamsters in the wild were seen as prey animals. Due to this, hamsters have to develop a quick defence mechanism to survive. Hamsters have a fight knee-jerk reaction in a fight or flight situation.
Domesticated hamsters still have this instinct. When an unknown presence is sensed, hamsters will quickly put their guards up and be ready to defend or attack as a defence. Regardless if you are a human, a predator animal, or even if you are a hamster or a hamster from the same family.
This is the same reason you cannot house more than one hamster in a single cage even if they are related. Eventually, the defensive and aggressive instinct will kick in which will result in fatal fights.
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You are seen as a danger or predator
A hamster will bite or attack you if you possess any danger or are seen as a danger. If you wake up a hamster or spooked them, it could also be the reason for your hamster to bite you. Anyone, including another hamster or even a person they trust, a hamster will always consider you as a danger to themselves in many situations – it’s just a reflex.
Unhappy or stressed
When your hamster is stressed, feeling anxious, feeling unwell, bored, or unhappy, it can be short-tempered and act aggressively towards you. Unhappiness, anxiety, stress, or boredom often results in an unsatisfying cage size or number or enrichment inside the cage.
You tried to handle or hold them
Hamsters love being alone, sure, there are friendly hamsters who sometimes like your attention. In general, hamsters like being in their own element, playing, burrowing, or chewing on chew toys. When a hamster doesn’t feel like being held but you try to hold them, they would tell you to stop by biting you.
Your hand smells like food
If you recently touched food and didn’t wash your hands before handling your hamster, they might think that fingers are some sort of food.
HAMSTER BITE WARNING SIGNS
Hamsters move very quickly, especially the Dwarf Roborovski. Often it’s hard to spot the signs that your hamster will bite you. But the Syrian hamster, the biggest domesticated one, is usually tamed but still can be aggressive. The good thing is, it’s easier to tell when it’s about to bite you since Syrian hamsters are not as quick as Dwarves.
Here are some hamster bite warning signs:
- The hamster is looking at you or your hand, whichever part of your body is near to them
- They pause for a good second, starting at you (or your hand)
- Running or charging towards you
- Running around the cage tirelessly
- Biting the bar cage – is usually a sign that they are unhappy (tips on stopping your hamster from bar biting)
Unfortunately, unlike dogs or cats, hamsters don’t really growl or hiss to let you know that you are annoying.
HOW TO GET HAMSTERS TO STOP BITING
There are many things you can do to stop your hamster from biting you. Like taming, introducing your scent, gaining their trust, and knowing when not to approach or handle your hamster.
Taming a hamster
The first thing you need to do is tame your hamster. This process starts from the moment you bring them home. It’s vital that you leave your hamster alone in the cage for the first week. This allows them to get settled, get familiar with the cage, and spread their scent all over.
After a week, you may now start taming your hamster. During the taming process, the goals are:
- introducing your scent to your hamster
- getting comfortable with your hamster
- building trust between the two of you
Make sure to not wear too much perfume or not use scented hand soap before handling your hamster. It’s important to simply have your natural scent and let your hamster know who you are by getting familiar with it.
Next, getting comfortable with your hamster means not being scared of them. I was not scared of my hamster in the beginning until the first biting incident we had. When taming or holding your hamster, you must wear thick gloves so you don’t have to worry about getting bitten painfully. Getting bitten can really traumatise you and develop fear towards your pet hamster.
Building trust between your hamster and you is the most challenging part. Because after your hamster learn who you are, they can still be hostile to you in some situation. To gain your hamster’s trust is to let them know you won’t hurt or stress them. You can do this by giving them their favourite treat whenever you try to hold or approach their cage.
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Observe your hamster’s behaviour
Observing your hamster’s behaviour and personality means you will learn what your hamster like and dislike. For example, some Syrian hamsters like getting cuddled or held while Roborovski hamsters prefer to be left alone.
If you know that your hamster doesn’t like too much noise, your perfume, or bright lights near their cage, you will know what their buttons are and how not to push them. By doing this, you will learn how to provide a comfortable environment for your hamster.
Provide suitable home
One of the best solutions how to get hamsters to stop biting is making sure they have a suitable cage. This means their enclosure is spacious and meets the right floor size. Having the right cage brings so much comfort and joy to your hamster.
This also means the bedding is safe, there are plenty of toys, and they have everything a hamster needs. From toys, food, water, sand, and more.
Don’t forcefully pick up your hamster
Instead of forcing your pet to interact with you, once you already spent time taming them, you should put your hand out and let your hamster crawl on top. This is an easy way to tell if your hamster is ready to spend time with you or not.
Never ever wake them up
Take this one religiously. Hamsters sleep during the day and wake up at night. During the sleeping time, never wake up your hamster. If you disturb a hamster from their sleep, it causes irritation and a foul mood which leads to biting when you try to hold them. This will only strain your relationship and cause stress to your pet.
Of course, there are exemptions, like cleaning the cage or replenishing food or water before you have to leave the house and will be gone for long hours. If you do really have to wake your hamster up, don’t hold or touch them for a few hours and leave some treats for them later to cheer them up.
Do not spook your hamster
Spooking your hamster will never end well. Unlike dogs who have lots of sense of humour, hamsters are like cats who won’t bat an eye before hitting you. Sneaking or scaring your hamster will just show how you can’t be trusted or pose a threat.
Let your hamster out for 10-minutes a day
Make sure to let your hamster out of the cage for 10-minutes a day. This will allow your hamster to be in a different environment filled with areas or toys to explore. It lets your hamster burn some extra energy, let out some frustration (especially when feeling bored in the cage), and overall improve their mood.
Treats are the key
Last but not the least, give your pet plenty of healthy hamster treats. These can be healthy treats like lean chicken or boiled egg. Any food that is not part of their food bowl inside the cage. is a good treat. Everyone feels better after eating delicious food, right? This is also a good way to build a great relationship with your hamster.
IT’S NOT ALL SO BAD
Hamsters may be aggressive and sometimes scary pets, but deep inside, they just want to be understood and need someone who has the patience to get to know them. It may be challenging to build a relationship with your hamster but it’s all worth it. Once you gain your hamster’s trust, you will create so many memories together.
I hope that you found this article on how to get hamsters to stop biting helpful. If you have other tips, we’d love to hear and add them here. Leave us a comment on the space below.