Help! Nervous hamster

Hello, hope someone is reading this who has or has had a hamster! We are looking after a friend's 6 week old hamster. It has an amazing cage with tunnels etc but seems to be terrified of us. We have moved it to where there is less noise have tried giving it extra treats but it still cowers in its tunnel or house whenever we are near it! We talk softly to it and have stopped trying to pick it up but its still stressed. Its moved its bedding out of its house and taken its bedding and some food into the tunnel since we cleaned it out. It never seems to sleep either, its awake morning noon and night! Oh my word, all suggestions gratefully received, please - thank you a worried Lois x

9 Replies

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  • IN my experience all hamsters are this nervous, even when they're used to you, they don't seem too keen to come close. They are nocturnal too so usually keep you awake running around the place etc but I guess as they're way down the food chain, they 'sleep with one eye open' so will become alert if you are around during the day - hence why it appears to always be awake. Wahtever you do, don't let it escape from its cage, they're nearly impossible to catch!

    I've refused to let the kids have a hamster for this reason, guinea pigs or rabbits are much easier!! LOL

  • 6 weeks is very young for a hamster. that is usually when they are bought from the pet shops - 6-8 weeks. He is bound to be nervous being away from his siblings.

    Don't worry about where he makes his bed.... they will always choose somewhere else. Mine used to camp out on the wheel! Leave its bedding where it is.

    the large cage may be a factor too! It may still be exporling its teritory and may feel a little insecure too with all the space.

    When you clean the cage, always pop a bit of the old bedding back in so it has some of his smell there. They will also store their food in their bed.... lots of it sometimes! Also they will pee where they choose to pee!

    They only need cleaning once a week.

    if it is up and around, pop your hand near the cage so he can sniff you... this may help him get used to your smell.

    Hope this helps.........

    Kate

    Had many a hamster when younger!

  • Don't worry - as September says, they are nervy little creatures. It may be even more nervous as it's a young hampster and picking up on a different environment. As September says, dont let it out!! We've looked after a friend's hampster a few times, and he got out of a rolling ball I brought for him to give him a bit of stimulation (he was kept in a small cage all the time and just knawed the bars). Anyway, the ball came apart and I looked round and Hammy had gone!! We tracked him down but it was a scary moment. He loved the rolling ball but after that I sellotaped the sides whenever he went in it.

    Anyway, try to avoid handling him too much, feed him and clean him out - he'll be just fine!! And make sure he's got fresh water. I'd love to have a hampster but husband has said 'no'!!

  • I love hamsters! I have had quite a few (maybe 8 over the years). All of them I have managed to train so they are perfectly comfortable being handled by myself and people they know. Only two were completely comfortable being handled by total strangers (the vet said the last one was the best behaved hamster she had met- I was very proud!!). You can also teach them the odd word (i.e NO and to respond to their name) my dad also managed to teach one that went it's wheel suddenly stopped working he had to run the top level of the cage and back, then hey presto it started working again.

    6 weeks is quite young, have these people just got the hamster and then given it to you, which might explain why it is nervous? I would leave the hamster somewhere quiet if possible so it can get used to its new surroundings. The best time to train is in the evening (if you have kids, after they have gone to bed). Is part of the cage a tank where you can take the lid off and hand the hamster titbits (monkey nuts or bits of fruit and veg)? Initially you could leave a house/tunnel or somewhere for it to hide. Gradually progress from handing food to gently touching the hamster and the letting it climb onto your hand.

    I don't think that moving it's bed around is necessarily a sign of nervousness, they sometimes do this, or it could be just moving the bed to somewhere cooler.

    Hope that helped a bit, feel free to PM if you need any more advice. I am missing having a hamster, but we are concentrating on our young rescue dog at the moment! When Skye is a bit better behaved we will hopefully get another hamster.

    Bryony

  • aww, had a few hamsters,

    let it get use to you and put food on your hand.

    if you pick him up pick him up from behind his heck and front legs,

    they are lovely pets and might give you a little nip but if it sees you arnt

    nervous it will soon settle. xxxx

  • This will make you laugh.

    when my sons girlfriend came down and was playing with our hamster.

    she had a wollen coat on with toggles and the hamster got a toggle in its

    mouth and it wedged across both of his pouches in his mouth,

    she couldnt get her coat off or we couldnt get it out of its mouth and stuck there ages.

    In the end I had to prize his mouth open and get my little finger in its mouth to try move the toggle so it pointed down its throat and pointed out of its mouth then got it out.

    we still laugh about it now. xxx

  • aww sorry i laughed at this...have kept loads of hamsters over the years from me being a child to my teenager having them for years and years so i know how awkward the little things can be. if its only 6weeks old its still a wee baby so its gunna be dead skittish. i would just let it do its own thing with the odd occassional stroke of its head if you are only looking after it cos sometimes when you pick them up they would rather jump than be handled if they are really nervous, which can cause broken bones and internal damage if they fall from a height. ours have always came around eventually and allowed us to handle them well all except one which would literally bite anything that went near it. because they sleep during the day they can be a right pest at night using the wheel etc.....good luck x

  • Hello, thank you so much for your replies, I feel a lot better now. I was really worried, it finally slept too! But it slept stretched out in its tunnel and gave me a bit of a scare, for the first time it didn't move when I opened the little hatch and i thought it was no more!

    Thank you so much everyone for the tips and advice - i feel a lot happier now. I didn't know anything about hamsters and thought i must be doing something wrong or not doing something that i should be. Have got quite attached to it already and now i know its okay for it to be nervous i don't want it to go back, lol. Thanks again everyone, feel very reassured, a relieved Lois x

  • All good advice from people here. I've had loads of hamsters too, and they are nervy things (well, can't blame them for being scared when picked up by something so much bigger than them!). He will be anxious as it sounds like your friends won't have had him long, and you are a complete stranger in a strange environment!

    I always took baby steps getting to know my hamster. First, just talking softly to it - I would do this for about a week and not try picking him up during that period as he is getting to know his surroundings. After a few days of that, I'd just sit with my hand still in the cage for a little while each day so that he could come and have a sniff of my hand if he wanted. Then I'd try hand feeding a little treat (cherry tomatoes were a favourite). Eventually I'd try picking him up.

    A note - if you are nervous of picking him up, he will know, and that will make him nervous.

    Piglet x

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