How To Make Hamsters Like & Trust You (Complete Guide)

making a hamster like you and trust you

Making Hamsters Like And Trust You

Hamsters are not like dogs, so you may have to put in a little extra effort if you would like your tiny pet to be as excited to hang out with you as you are to hang out with him or her. Whether you are researching adopting a hamster, just brought your first one home, or have been living alongside your small friend for a while now, there are steps you can take to encourage a healthy bond between the two of you going forward. 

How can you make your hamster like and trust you? Hamsters are very small prey animals, and to encourage them to trust you, you will need to do what you can to appear and sound less threatening. Speak quietly and gently, approach slowly and respectfully, and do not forcefully grab your hamster from his cage. Keep initial play sessions short, and consider offering treats when you leave your hamster. 

Most hamsters, unlike many of our other pets, are solitary animals. They get along just fine on their own and don’t tend to crave socialization and interaction the way that we do. This doesn’t mean that you can’t build a healthy relationship with your hamster though – meeting your hamster’s needs and respecting her will lead to a hamster who trusts and even likes you.

We have outlined these necessary steps in manageable sections below to give you the best head start (or do-over) with your favorite small pet. 

Earning A Hamster’s Trust By Meeting Their Physical Needs

To establish a bond with your hamster, you must first ensure that your hamster’s physical and environmental needs are met. Aside from a healthy diet of hamster-formulated pellets or blocks and access to fresh water at all times, there are some considerations you can make when it comes to your hamster’s environment that will make him feel more comfortable and secure.

Most welfare agencies recommend that cages allow for at least 400-650 square inches of space per hamster, but really, the more space you can provide, the better. Your hamster’s cage is her world – aside from the time she spends outside of the cage with you, everything she knows is in her cage.

Giving her plenty of space to roam, explore, and build nests will keep her active (meeting her physical needs) and will keep her curiosity engaged (meeting her mental needs).

In addition to space, you will want to consider the placement of her cage. Choose a spot where she will be able to see you regularly, helping her to get desensitized to your presence. At the same time, take care to not put her in a spot that will be chaotic and noisy.

The family kitchen may not be a wise choice, but a quieter office or den may fit nicely. Take into account your hamster’s level of activity too – most hamsters are nocturnal, so putting her in your bedroom may cause you some noisy, sleepless nights. 

Lastly, make sure that your hamster has plenty of comfortable bedding in which to make a nest for himself. You want him to feel safe, and that he can escape to a hide-away at any time. In addition to nesting material, place a burrow (or den) or two in the cage for him.

You can purchase these at the pet store in the form of plastic or wooden houses, or you can fashion one out of paper bowls, a small box, or even a paper towel roll if you’ve got a small dwarf hamster.

Just make sure that the materials you use are not toxic, since hamsters are rodents and love to chew, and that they are large enough to allow them to move around and enter and exit freely.

Making A Hamster Like You: Bringing Your Hamster Home

When you bring your hamster home he will be scared and will probably spend most of his time hiding during the first couple of days. Be patient – give him time to acclimate to his surroundings before attempting to interact with him.

Give him a few days without interruption from you, only reaching into the cage to replenish his food or water or handle some other necessity – this will be tough but is important, so try not to give in to temptation. 

This doesn’t mean that you should put your hamster into his cage and walk away for three days. Spend as much time as you can sitting next to the cage. Sit and read by his cage, take your laptop and work next to his cage, or just sit and watch him.

While you’re in the room, talk quietly and softly. You don’t want him to feel threatened, but you want him to get accustomed to and comfortable with the sound of your voice. 

Earning Trust By Introducing Your Hamster To Your Hand

After the first few days, you can start interacting with your hamster by introducing your hand. Before you put your hand anywhere near your hamster, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, preferably with unscented soap.

Hamsters have an excellent sense of smell, and if your fingers smell like food, they will be treated like food. Also, if your fingers smell like another rodent or hamster, your hamster may feel threatened. 

Place your clean hand into the bottom of your hamster’s cage. Don’t spread your fingers wide – leave them gently folded or loosely closed in a fist. If your hamster starts nibbling on your fingers, don’t be alarmed – this is his way of exploring your hand.

If your hamster runs away and hides as soon as you place your hand in the cage, let him go. You don’t want to force these early introductions – part of building trust is allowing your hamster the autonomy to choose when to approach you.

If he doesn’t come to your hand, be patient (patience being the common theme here). You may try this a few times before he comes to you willingly.  You can try placing a treat at the bottom of the cage the first few times to build a positive association. 

Lastly, be considerate of the time. When working on getting your hamster comfortable with you, choose a time to interact when he is awake and alert. If you wake him up from a deep sleep, he will be startled and may bite you. Wait for him to wake up and start moving about before interacting.

Earning Trust: Picking Your Hamster Up

The best way to pick up your hamster is by scooping him up and out of his cage after he climbs into your hands. Hold him with enough security so that he does not fall (hamsters lack depth perception so will walk right off of your hands unwittingly), but not so tightly that he feels entrapped. 

Ideally, your hamster will come to you willingly to be picked up for the first time (and each time thereafter). This will really depend on your hamster’s personality though – you can do everything perfectly up to this point and you may still have a skittish hamster who would rather stay in her burrow than approach you.

If this is the case with your furry friend, try placing a coffee mug with a treat inside of it into the cage. Wait for her to climb into the mug, and then pick up the mug and gently tip her into your hands. 

The first few times that you will be holding your hamster outside of her cage will be stressful for her. Alleviate much of this stress by keeping these interactions short. Hold her in the same room for a few minutes at a time. You can gradually increase the amount of time she is outside of the cage – no need to rush, as you will want her to look forward to these adventures with you. 

When it’s time to put your hamster back in her cage, do it slowly and securely, just as you are with all of your interactions. Open your hands when they are at the bottom of the cage so that she can walk right out on her own. Consider offering a treat at this time, so that she learns to appreciate her time outside of the cage with you. 

Be Patient And Your Hamster Will Learn To Trust And Like You

Patience really is the name of the game when you are trying to build a trusting relationship with any prey animal. It is ideal to start off on the right foot, teaching your hamster that you are safe from the very start. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t correct earlier mistakes – if you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, start over by taking the steps outlined here.

It may take a bit longer to build that trust with your hamster, but you should be successful. Enjoy the time you have interacting with your hamster – taking the time to build that trust will result in a (hamster) lifetime of great memories with you.

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