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.
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.
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