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How to stop hamster biting? – Simple steps you can take.

how to stop hamster biting

I know its true that my Syrian hamster, Scampi will often playfully tug on my fingers with his teeth as though he is a little puppy playing tug of war. He will sometimes also lick me. So the question is – how to stop hamster biting?

Firstly it is important to remember that fortunately this is a rare occurrence.

I have done lots of research on this and there are a lot of reasons, and nearly always not the fault of the hamster, why your hamster may be biting you.

Syrian hamsters are full of energy. They are also very cautious little creatures.

If they are not completely socialized (and even if they are), there is a large list of things that may trigger a stressful response from them. This will often result in biting as they are feeling threatened.

The following is a list of examples where your hamster may feel threatened:

  • Grabbing them in any way but with a scoop using both hands.
  • Petting them in or around the face or the genital area.
  • Prodding or poking them.
  • Waking them up suddenly and trying to pick them up straight away.
  • Forcing them out of their routine in any way or making them do something they don’t want to do.
  • Lifting them up high above the ground or holding them for extended periods of time without letting them out of your hands.
  • Any sudden or quick movements.
  • Any other unforeseen, or threatening behavior from the perspective of a small mammal.

Otherwise, it could be any of the following:

  • They smell food on your hands.
  • If they are just in a bad mood, are annoyed about something, or are trying to tell you what they want (i.e. to be put down, that they want to go somewhere else – some hamsters may bite if they want to go somewhere that they aren’t allowed to go out of pure frustration).
  • They are still only young or babies.
  • Playful biting, which can only be assumed if accompanied by happy or lighthearted social queues such as not biting down hard, letting you pet them, chattering their teeth together with happiness; still do not assume unless you know your hamster well, as they may be stressed
  • The hamster is pregnant or has babies that they feel the need to protect
  • Sometimes it could just be an accident
  • Cage aggressive, meaning they feel the need to ‘protect their domain’ from you despite being loving outside the cage
  • Lastly and fortunately most rare they could just be born like that and bite a lot, but fortunately this is not as common as people think, although it still does happen.

how to stop hamster bitingConclusion:

You should always try to make your first assumption when a hamster bites that it is out of stress, and then backtrack to figure out what you did and how to prevent it happening again. Biting is one of the few ways a hamster can communicate its emotions and what it wants from you. Take that red flag, and always learn from it.

People tend to blame biting on the hamster, and so many people are quick to get angry at their hamsters, claiming that all hamsters just bite for no reason. Very seldom is that the case. They are tiny creatures and their last line of defense is biting. A tired, scared, or upset hamster will resort to whatever it can to send the message of “stop what you are doing, please” to you. Always remember they might not always want to be picked up, held or played with. Respect them as an animal and try to listen to what they’re trying to to let you kmow.

If you follow the above advice, hopefully it will allow you to have a great future relationship with your hamster.

The above advice would be equally true for all breeds of hamsters, rats, mice and gerbils.

For more information on hamster health care and feeding, please click here.

These are our 5 most recommended cages for hamsters.

I hope you have enjoyed our article on how to stop hamster biting. If you would like any further information, advice or would like to comment about the above article, please comment in the box below

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10 Comments

  1. I agree with you that often, hamsters bite only as a sort of self defense against routines they are not used to or being shocked. They do not like anything that has to do with shocking them and that is the reason they reply with reactions like biting. As owners, we must learn to overlook their behaviours and what we did to cause them to react in such ways. Great piece you have here.

  2. Hi Skye,

    What a cute little hamster you have, thanks for writing a very useful post for the number of people that have pet hamsters, I’m sure many have been bitten at one time or another by their little pets. Are Syrian hamsters a popular hamster? Isn’t it amazing how many reasons there are as to why the little fellah may take a bite of your finger, you point all if the reasons out in an easy to read format. Well done, Fintan

    • Hi Fintan,

      Syrian hamsters are the most popular. In captivity they are best as solitary pets and are less quick-moving than the dwarf hamsters.

  3. I have usually asked this question from a couple of people why hamsters bite a whole lot. Now i understand the whole thing. I think that there is no big deal with it and it is all some natural occurrence that happens. I hope that more people can see this to understand this so we can take measures to be careful and also understand our pets more. Nice one

  4. Hi Skye,

    I liked your post. It is quite eye opening.

    As a young boy growing up in the countryside I used to keep rabbits. Though in a sense bigger than hamsters, those rodents did not like mishandling, too. And I’ve drawn a lot of parallels from your informative article. I’ve ever been bitten by a rabbit in its cage when I tried to feed it. Those front teeth are sharp! And I guess hamsters’ too are as sharp- or even sharper.

    I have a question: what first aid measures would you recommend for a person who receives a bleeding bite from a hamster?

    Boniface from AndroidBix

    • Hi Boniface,

      hamster’s teeth are sharp and their bites tend to be quite clean. I would recommend thoroughly cleaning, before adding an antiseptic and then a plaster to keep the cut clean. If it looks like the wound is becoming infected, then you should seek doctors’ advice.

  5. Hello Skye,

    This is an interesting article. I have to admit that I always thought pet hamsters bite because of their playful nature. I haven’t considered it as a stressful response. It seems like they feel threatened with sudden movements right? We should be careful when approaching them. Even though I don’t have a pet hamster, I think it’s a good advice to make the first assumption as stress, when a hamster bite us. That would be helpful to keep  hamsters comfortable and happy.

  6. A verry simple and comprehensive post you have here Skye. Pets are sometimes strange, but they are really wonderful creatures we all want to have around, especially the small ones. I once had an Hamster when I was very small and it never bit me. From reading this post, I love the way you have laid down these reasons for their behavior, and maybe in future when I get one for my kids I’ll educate them on how to handle them to avoid biting. Best reagds.

  7. It seems normal to me that animals such as hamsters bite?! Interesting to find out that you can stop it from happening. Very complete and informative article about all the reasons why they bite! I didn’t know that they don’t appreciate being petted around the face. Are their bites dangerous for you like dogs’ bites are? Could you get infected from it? Many thanks!

  8. Youre very right, many people tend to blame the biting on the hamsters and they say that it is not neccesary and they eventually lose love for the pet. I believe that you have knowledge of this discourse and that is why you have given this great detail on it why the hamsters bite. I will put all this into consideration and learn to stop them from biting. Thanks

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