Do Hamsters Like To Be Held? Dos and Don’ts

Hamsters are very cute and lovely creatures, and their small size more often than not tempts us to hold them. And if you’ve held that little furry friend in your hands, then you’ll certainly agree with me that it’s a very fun and satisfying experience. But is the feeling mutual?

Do hamsters like to be held?

Yes, some hamsters like to be held. Like all other pets, hamsters treasure human affection and interactions, and want much attention from them, including holding them. However, some hamsters have a personality that doesn’t settle well with them being held, especially for a long time.

So yes, no matter the species of hamster, they all fall in one of the two categories; either they love being held or they hate it.

The goal is to do what makes your hamster happy. If he/she loves being held, go ahead and show them some love, if not, at least find a way to make them come to love being held.

Don’t know how?

No need to worry, we will be tackling that later on in the article. But first, let’s find out whether your hamster likes or hates being held.

How To Know If Your Hamster Loves Being Held

How To Know

There’s a certain way to know whether your hamster likes to be held (with some little science and hands-on experience, of course).

Signs That Your Hamster Loves Being Held

If the moment you pick up your hamster it closes its eyes, yawns, or relaxes without any struggle; then it’s a sure sign that the hamster enjoys the feeling and comfort of the human hands.

In addition, if your hamster falls asleep as soon as you hold them; chances are, your little furry friend loves being held.

Again, the next time you bring out your palm, place your fingers lightly on either side of your hammy’s body and gently lift them up. If your hamster seems to be enjoying the experience and remains calm, then it’s a good sign of affection.

And there you go, if you notice any of these signs in your hamster, then they are definitely comfortable being held.

So, how about if they don’t like being held at all?

That’s our next section…

Signs That Your Hamster Hates Being Held

Firstly, if your hammy becomes restless and fearful just because you’ve picked them up, then it’s a sign that they don’t like the experience of being held. They will try to escape from your hands and that should tell you they are not for the idea of being held. And in case your hamster bites your hand, then that should also tell you they aren’t in for it!

Secondly, if your hammy is vocalizing extremely loud growls and squeaks while you try to hold them, then they definitely are not comfortable with the experience.

In addition, where your hamster kicks at your hands with their hind legs, then they are trying hard to break out of your grasp. Therefore, this is also another sign that goes along with frustration and fear; they do not like being held.

So, it’s possible to know whether or not your hamster sees being held as a form of affection by just watching them and assessing their body language. Just be keen on how they behave once you pick them up and you won’t need a behaviorist to help you assess.

And now…

What If My Hamster Doesn’t Like Being Held?

If your hamster doesn’t like being held, don’t worry. It’s something that’s common, and the good news is that just like dogs and cats, hamsters can be trained to adjust as well.

So, how do you train a hamster to come around to being held?

Just before that, it’s worth knowing that you can’t force your hamster to be held. You want them to love the idea and welcome it every time you want to hold them.

And yes, it’s achievable!

Perhaps you will find it easy than you might think.

We are headed there in a bit, but just before that, you might have wondered why your hamster does not like being held.

Why Some Hamsters Don’t Like Being Held

We have so many reasons why some hamsters don’t like to be held, ranging from personality and training to the environment they were raised in.

Let’s dig deeper…

Personality

Much more like other pets, hamsters have their own personalities. Some of them are extremely laid-back while others are not that easy to come around to being held.

So, if you notice that your hamster doesn’t settle easily on your arms, then it could be that their personality doesn’t agree with the idea of being held.

Training

Again, another possible reason your hamster doesn’t like being held is that they are not trained well enough. Hamsters need to be trained that it’s okay for them to be held.

Accepting to be held doesn’t come already in-built when your hamster comes out of their mother’s pouch. It takes time to settle in and learn about how to act when held; they need training!

And the good news is, it is possible to train them. All you need is consistency with positive reinforcement.

Environment They Were Raised In

Environment

Another reason why your hamster hates being held is that they are not used to it.

Perhaps you have always had your hamster in a cage, and they have never seen the outside world for even a second (not literally, of course).

Or maybe you’ve got another pet that frightens them, like a cat or dog. Certainly, this will make any hamster scared of strangers, even you.

So, the best thing you can do is let your hamster adjust to their new environment. Make them understand that they are safe! Once they get used to the idea, then there’s a good chance they will like being held.  

Scented Hands

Lastly, it could be that your hands smell unpleasant to them. Hamsters really have powerful noses, and that means they can sniff out even the slightest scent.

So, as a responsible hamster owner, be sure to keep your hands clean and fresh before you pick up your pet. Cleaning your hands before holding your hamster will help them feel safe and secure.

That said, let’s go back to our pending question;

How Can You Make Your Hamster Get Used To Being Held?

How To Make Things Work

You can train your hamster to be held easily.

Here’s how;

Begin Young

The best time to start training your hamster is when they are still young. They will grow to understand that being handled is nothing scary, and in fact, it’s normal.

Of course, your hamster might still be frightened of being held when you first pick them up but remember that every time they are handled by you, the fear will fade away.

And to set things clear, we don’t in any way mean that adult hamsters can’t be trained to be held.

It’s possible for any hamster to excel in this training. You just need to be more patient with the older furry friends.

Give Your Hamster Time To Adjust To Their New Environment

New home, new faces, new conditions, and much more. In other words, there’s much to adjust to for your hamster.

So, consider that you are already adding more stress by asking them to get used to being held on top of everything else.

Don’t pressure your hamster into acting the way you want. Spend time with them and let their personalities settle first before you pick them up.

Give Them A Stress-Free Environment

After getting your hamster, ensure that you give them the utmost peace of mind. Avoid noise, introducing them to new pets, and anything that might put them under stress.

Your hamster’s first experience in their new environment will go a long way to determine whether they are going to trust you when you pick them up or not. So yes, ensure that they get the serenity they need right from day one.

Remember To Use Reinforcements

You want to make your hamster feel comfortable and secure when in your hands, and you can’t achieve that unless you build it yourself. And yes, Hamster treats are a great way to boost the confidence of your hamster when around you. You can begin by feeding them through the cage bars at first. 

Small bits of food can also be a great way to establish that bond between you and your hamster. A small bit of food works to make your hamster comfortable when around you. 

Begin With Shorter Sessions Of Interactions

Everything begins with baby steps. And for your pet hamster, that means starting with short sessions of interactions before moving up to longer ones.

Start with quick sessions in which you just pick them up and put them down after seconds.

The purpose is to give them a feeling of being held without making it all so overwhelming or scary for them! 

You can then increase the sessions’ length slowly and steadily. And with time, your hamster will actually enjoy being held in your arms for long periods!

But don’t overdo it!

How Long Should I Hold My Hamster?

How long you should hold your hamster is a very subjective topic. For one thing, it depends on your hamster’s age and how well they are used to being handled.

However, if you already have a hamster that’s already used to being held, the rule of the thumb is to keep the sessions between 10-15 minutes. That will make your hamster feel loved without stressing them.

How Often Should I Hold My Hamster?

You should hold your hamster once a day. However, if you have gone several days without interacting with your furry friend, you need to do it more often.

No matter the hamster type, your little furry friend wants to feel loved and part of the family. At times they will want to be held more than once a day, and it’s absolutely fine if they are okay with it. Keep in mind the goal is to make your hammy happy!

Dos and Don’ts When Handling A Hamster

Dos and Don'ts

The Dos;

  • Do wash your hands before holding a hamster. Hamsters easily catch diseases, and it’s important to keep them safe from getting sick too.
  • Always hold your hamster securely near your chest or lap. That way, your furry friend will feel safe and comfortable.
  • Always pick your hamster up with cupped hands. This way, your hammy won’t slip from your hands and fall even when they show some resistance.
  • Wear gloves while handling a hamster. This is to protect your skin from their sharp nails, which can hurt you seriously!
  • Use a soft tone when speaking to your hamster before or after picking them up. Loud noises will scare them and make the experience a stressful one!

The Don’ts;

  • Don’t hold a hamster that is in a wheel. Your furry friend will try to run off, and that might result in injuries to your hamster or even you!
  • Don’t hold your hamster when other pets are around. Hamsters fear other animals, and they might get even more frightened when they see them.
  • Don’t try to rush it all, give your hamster time. Remember, every new experience will be stressful for them since they don’t understand what’s going on.
  • Don’t hold your hamster without washing your hands first. Sweat, perfume, the smell of food, lotion, and even your natural scent are enough to stress your hamster.
  • Don’t force your hamster into being held by you. If it doesn’t feel safe for them then they will not enjoy the experience!

Final Verdict

Hamsters are fun, adorable creatures to have as pets. They deserve to be loved and cared for, which includes holding them often!

But take the time to build the bond first before picking them up or forcing them into handling sessions. It’s important that your hamster feels safe with you before you take them out of their enclosure!

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