When you first bring your hamster home, he may be a little nervous, perhaps even distressed. The way you handle him from the start can make a big difference in the way he reacts to his new home. Also pay attention to his reaction to certain surroundings and actions. My children have cared for numerous hamsters, some that came from delicate situations. Help soothe your hamster's transition into a new home by using some of the methods we had success with in multiple cases.
Give the hamster time to get used to you. When you first bring your hamster home, you may immediately want to interact. But keep in mind that may be the exact opposite of what your hamster has in mind. It doesn't mean he hates you. He just needs time to adjust. Soothe him by granting that adjustment. Wait a few days before handling the hamster.
Approach your hamster slowly to ease his fears. Start out with a gloved hand at first. Place your hand into the cage and leave it there a few minutes at a time each day. Eventually the hamster will come up to you and may even start sitting in your hand on purpose. Never feed your hamster food from your hand, unless your goal is to create a biting habit. After a while, once your hamster used to you, the glove probably won't be needed.
Provide a hideaway. Your hamster needs to have one or more places to hide inside his cage. Being hidden can be soothing, especially during a transition. One of our hamsters enjoys his edible log for this purpose. The other likes a small wooden house, as well as his enclosed hamster wheel. No matter what you choose, be sure it is safe for hamsters. It also should be something the hamster can fully fit inside when he needs to retreat. This helps calm the hamster down when he is nervous or scared.
Keep familiar items in your hamster's cage. If you are just switching your hamster to a new cage within the same home, transfer some of his favorite items into the new cage. We recently switched cages for one of our hamsters and he felt soothed by his favorite log and food dish. Though we switched out some items, we kept those two things to ease his transition. He was very happy in the new cage and is adjusting well. At first he would sniff the new items and test them out. Then, he would retreat to his log for a little while. That helped him feel secure. If you are just bringing your hamster home for the first time, you may not be able to use items from the previous habitat. Purchasing similar items is the second best option.
*The author is not a licensed veterinarian. Always ask your veterinarian for the best advice specific to your hamster.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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