“My hamster bit me and drew blood” is something we have heard countless times. Hamsters are known to bite their owner often. Personally, I was bitten by my hamster at least five times that drew blood. I’m lying if I say I wasn’t scared of her after the first two bites because I was terrified. But, is this enough reason to resent your hamster, abandon them, or give up on creating a connection with them? The answer is no.
What you need to know about hamsters is that they have trust issues if we’re talking 21st-century lingo. Hamsters are prey in the wild which results where trust is hard to come by. While they have been domesticated, they are always looking over their shoulders and being defensive is an instinct they still carry.
MY HAMSTER BIT ME: REASONS WHY HAMSTER BITES
Now, to help you understand that your hamster does not hate you just because they bit you, we will list the reasons why hamsters bite. Later, we will discuss what you can do to remedy this, avoid getting bitten, and how to build a stronger bond with your hamster.
I highly recommend you read these facts about hamsters, which will explain to your why they act the way they do.
Imagine being a size of a hamster in a massive wild forest with predators like snakes, birds of prey, bobcats, weasels, and coyote hunting and waiting for you to come out of your bur-hole. Hamsters don’t even trust their own species, which is the reason you can’t house more than one hamster in a cage.
In the wild, hamsters always have to be careful, or else they will end up in some predator’s belly. This characteristic is still carried by domestic hamsters.
Hamsters don’t understand the sense of carer, as soon as they can walk and eat by themselves, their survival instinct will kick in, and everyone around them is their enemy. They don’t understand the sense of a human bringing them home and caring for them the way dogs do.
So, every time you get near your hamster especially if you just got them home or they are very young, there is a high chance that your hamster will bite you and draw blood because they thought you’re about to hurt them.
If you haven’t read about our article why hamsters can’t live together, territorial is the reason. Hamsters love their own space where they feel safe and know that everything they need is within arm’s reach, especially their hoarded food.
Every time you approach a hamster’s cage during the time where they still don’t know you, their first reaction is to defend their territory by biting you. This is why taming a hamster is very important.
This part affects both their trust issue and territorial sense. Hamsters burrow deep and in the dark where they feel much safer. But when you try to get into their burrowing hole, they get defensive because they think that you came there to either eat them or steal their hoarded food.
Sickness or Unwell
Just like you and me, when a human is sick or unwell, we are cranky and just want to be left alone until we feel better. The same thing for hamsters, if out of nowhere your hamster became aggressive and attacks you more often than usual, it might be because they are feeling unwell and want to be left alone.
However, you shouldn’t leave them alone, especially if more than two days have passed and they still don’t seem fine. You should check this list of common hamster illnesses and contact your vet.
They are disturbed
Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning, they sleep in the morning. Which results in you accidentally waking them up during the day. Many hamster owners, especially young kids, can’t contain the excitement to play with their pets.
Kids often wake up hamsters which result in hamsters attacking them and bite them. If you really want to say hi to your hamster or play with them, it’s best to do this during the evening when they are pretty much awake and ready to start their “day”.
Personally, I don’t think you can fully tame a hamster the way dogs can be tamed. Hamsters are aggressive animals by nature. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t stop your hamster from biting you.
You can tame your hamster, which will reduce the chances of them biting or acting aggressively towards you. Taming is a process where you introduce your smell or scent to your hamster (this don’t necessary mean spraying your perfume on them – never do this).
Syrian hamsters are the easiest to tame and most likely to bite you less. On the other hand, Dwarf hamsters can also be tamed, however, keep in mind that they are the most aggressive. If you decide to start taming a Dwarf hamster (Campbell, Russian/Winter White), make sure to wear thick gloves.
While Robos (Roborovski) are the hardest to tame, many experienced hamster owners even say you can’t tame a Robo. If you want to have a hamster but are not a fan of the idea of holding them, get a Robo instead.
It is also hard to tame older hamsters compared to hamsters that you get while they are young.
Robo or Roborovski are the smallest species of hamsters and while they are super cute, they are known to be the hardest to tame. They are the least aggressive hamster species. The reasons Robos are challenging to tame or handle is because of their lightning speed and size.
Their speed is often the reason why it’s hard to tame a Robo. You can try taming your Robo, but don’t get disheartened if they won’t. Even the most experienced hamster owner often don’t get to tame their Robo. Be prepared to have them as a “just to look at” kind of pet.
Perhaps, your hamster fell pregnant accidentally and gave birth to hamster pups. One thing you must remember, is never to approach or disturb a hamster cage for 4 weeks after the mother hamster gave birth.
Not only the mother will bite you to protect her pup, but she might also accidentally kill her babies while trying to protect them. It’s best to leave the cage alone for at least 2 weeks and only come near when offering attractive meals like boiled or scrambled eggs or boiled chicken (unseasoned). After that, you can come to take a peak but never touch the cage or the babies.
Read more about accidental hamster pregnancy to find out what you must and must not do.
HAMSTER BITE TREATMENT – HOW TO STOP A HAMSTER FROM BITING YOU
I can’t promise you that your hamster will never bite you or that after doing these things your hamster will never bite you again in the future. What I can promise is there are things you can do to stop your hamster from biting or attacking you. We have a specific guide on how to stop hamsters from biting you.
If nothing works, it’s okay to give up, you can still be a good hamster parent by providing a clean and safe home.
This is the ultimate answer, of course. Taming a hamster doesn’t mean you can train them to do tricks. Taming means introducing your scent to gain their trust. You can do this by spending time with them or giving them surprise treats.
Spending time with them and doing some taming tricks are the best ways to create a bond and develop a connection with your hamster. You have to work to gain a hamster’s trust and to learn their habits and behaviour, so you know when is the best time to approach them and when to leave them alone.
Here are some taming tricks you can do with your hamster.
Get thick gloves
Using a glove will help you to tame your hamster, hold them, and feed them while avoiding some situations involving bites and blood.
Personally, I’ve used gloves that construction workers use because they are thick and lasts a long time. Gardening gloves might do the trick too but don’t choose the plastic or rubber that your hamster might be able to chew off and ingest.
Every time you approach the hamster cage attempting to hold your hamster, wear gloves and carry some treats as a peace offering.
Providing a suitable home
A poor and tiny cage will develop major aggression. Hamsters need at least 100x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450 square inches) cages so they can run around freely and burn their energy. Stuffing them in a tiny cage won’t help you develop a relationship with them.
Not only providing a large cage can help you gain your hamster’s favour, but making sure you provide all their needs like bedding, food, water, chew toys, and peace of mind are necessary for a hamster to feel safe with you.
Be mindful when approaching your hamster/their cage
By now, you should already know that the timing of approaching a hamster’s cage or a hamster is very vital. You can’t just spook hamster-like dogs or cats. You need to make sure that you don’t disturb your hamster from sleeping or out of nowhere.
The best thing to do is to check first if your hamster is awake before you offer treats or attempt to play with them. While they love treats, don’t use this to wake them up.
You should also place the hamster cage in a quiet corner where they won’t get disturbed by human activities during the day. Putting them in the quiet corner of the bedroom is a good idea, if you have a library or reading room or home office, these are perfect locations.
It’s important to remember that when a hamster bites or attacks you, it doesn’t mean that they hate you or that you are a lousy hamster parent. This is just their instinct kicking in, doing their best to protect themselves, their territory, their food, and their babies, or merely a sign that they are feeling unwell.
If your hamster still bites you after trying everything you can, it’s okay to just leave them alone in their cage and be a silent carer by providing the right cage, safe bedding, clean water, healthy food, and more. What’s not okay is abandoning them just because they didn’t live up to your expectation.
I hope that this article about why hamster bite has been useful for you. If you have any questions or tips on how to stop a hamster from biting, let us know in the comment section below.