Biting in dwarf hamsters is not usually a sign of aggression but an indication of fear. Because of unfamiliarity, these little pets bite people that they still don’t trust.
Hamsters are more likely to be frightened if they were not handled at the pet store where you bought them from.
Although they usually don’t carry rabies, bites from dwarf hamsters can still cause pain and infection. Owners must be aware of every detail about what makes their pets bite and what’s the right way to tame them.
Reasons Why Dwarf Hamsters Bite
Dwarf hamsters don’t bite without a reason. As mentioned, usually, biting is caused by the feeling of being in danger. As an owner, you have to make adjustments too. The most common causes of this behavior in hamsters are the following:
- Their form of defense
Naturally defensive, dwarf hamsters protect themselves from invaders and predators. They act that way whenever they feel that something is a threat; even their owners or other people. Putting your finger into their cages can make them bite you especially if you put it near their face because they are territorial.
- They are afraid
Some people disturb a sleeping hamster which causes it to get startled and end up biting the person who woke it up. Some even intentionally startle the hamsters which makes them scared. Like any other type of hamsters, they respond to threats as part of their instincts.
- You’re mistaken as food
Because of poor vision, hamsters rely more on their sense of smell. They distinguish things through scent. A person’s hand can smell like the food at times so the hamster thinks it is food that is supposed to be eaten.
- Biting is part of Dwarf Hamster’s traits
Dwarf hamsters are not that friendly so biting can be part of their personalities. What’s worse is that their bites, if not properly taken care of, can even lead to diseases like Tularemia, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, and Hantavirus which are known to be caused by rodents.
One good thing is that they are unlikely to spread rabies because like most hamsters, dwarf hamsters are mostly kept as indoor pets.
Things to Do If a Dwarf Hamster Bites You
To prevent having infections or severe conditions because of a dwarf hamster’s bite, you must know the first aid. Aside from saving yourself, you will also be able to help other people. Plus, it can help you avoid going to the hospital needlessly, thereby reducing your medical expenses.
Follow these steps to treat a hamster’s bite:
- If a dwarf hamster is still biting you, gently remove it. Do not shake the hamster to remove its teeth from your skin.
- Wash your wound with mild soap and warm water.
- Apply an anti-bacterial cream or solution.
- Cover the wound with a bandage.
- Check and clean the wound daily.
- If there are signs of infection, see a doctor so that the bite can be further assessed.
- You’ll likely be prescribed with antibiotics so make sure to take them on time.
Prevent Dwarf Hamster from Biting
A hamster that just got transferred to a new home usually gets scared and uncomfortable of its new environment. Taming it can be time-consuming but you have to be patient to gain its trust. Below are some useful tips that can help you handle your hamster well without getting a bite:
- Slowly introduce yourself to a dwarf hamster if you’re a new owner.
- Let your hamster adjust; don’t touch it as soon as you take it home.
- Dwarf hamsters are deep sleepers so don’t wake it up to play.
- Hold your hamster properly. Make sure you’re not holding it too tight.
- Don’t touch a hamster without washing your hands first.
- You can also try putting gloves while playing with a hamster.
- Avoid startling a hamster by making it aware of your presence first before touching it.
- Be friendly to your pet.
- Do not wear heavy perfumes when you’re going to hold your pet.
- Never grab a hamster.
- Choose the best time to play with your dwarf hamster.
- Make sure the hamster’s surrounding doesn’t cause stress.
- Give them treats so they will feel at ease with you.
You should always take precautions in caring for your dwarf hamster. As much as possible, make sure it is comfortable and stress-free. Training is also advised to avoid undesirable behaviors.
Young hamsters are easier to train than old ones. Since they are crepuscular animals, training should be done at dawn when they are most active.
Use a gentle voice when training your dwarf hamster because loud voices make it scared. Make it familiar with your scent too by washing your hand and gently touching the hamster. Never use punishment-based training. Instead, use treats as a reward for a good response from your pet.
Teach your hamster a “no” command by slightly tapping its nose in order to know that biting is bad behavior. Only use positive reinforcement. Once your dwarf hamster is comfortable with you, you can already carry it in your hands.