Being prey animals in the wild, hamsters are naturally timid creatures that get frightened easily. Is it then possible to tame them to the point where they are no longer afraid of your presence? Better yet, can hamsters be trained to do tricks?
The answer is, yes. Although hamsters don’t easily or quickly pick up new routines like dogs or cats do, with enough repetition, they can be taught a variety of things.
If you’re planning to train your hamster, start them young. The ideal time is when the pup is 3 – 4 weeks old and still impressionable. Older hamsters can be trained too, but they might take a longer amount of time to drop old habits and form new ones.
Put on your training gear and let’s get started with learning how to execute proper the hamster training!
Getting Started On Hamster's Training
Taming a hamster can be challenging. Basic training starts with getting the hamster to allow you to hold it without it attacking you. Before starting the first step of training, there are a few things you need to know.
Start off with creating a relaxing environment for the hamster. Its shelter should be located in an area with people nearby but not a place that has excessive foot traffic or next to sources of noise.
Your hamster will be sleeping most of the day so you need to ensure that its rest is not disturbed. Doing so can cause it to become cranky and non-cooperative with regards to the training routine. If you have children or dogs and cats in the house, it would be best to segregate them during this phase.
It’s important to ensure that your hamster isn’t stressed before the training process begins. It needs to be given plenty of time to adjust before beginning, most especially if it’s new and hasn’t yet familiarized itself with the surroundings.
All of the hamster’s accessories should be complete. Make sure that its shelter is large enough to give it plenty of room to scurry around and play. It should have a water bottle, exercise wheel, appropriate bedding, and a food bowl.
Don’t start the hamster training unless you have all of these items, as you’re trying to build some familiarity through repetition and introducing new items every so often can throw the hamster off the routine.
Lastly, never try to train your hamster during the daytime when it’s sleeping. Wait until it’s cool in the evening and it has emerged from its hiding place. You can start the process once your hamster is observably calm.
Basic Training Steps
With the preliminary steps taken care of, it’s time to begin the basic training.
First things first, don’t rush through it. Taming a hamster takes time and patience, much more so than other pets. This stage is all about gaining the hamster’s trust in order for it not to fear you. Don’t push it too fast through the training or it may become stressed and estranged.
Observe the hamster before starting to check if it’s comfortable in its environment. Some signs of relaxation to look out for include eating from the food bowl, drinking from the water bottle, and playing in its shelter even while people are in the room. Give it time to adjust and don’t start the training until it does.
If your hamster looks like it’s already quite happy in its shelter, start getting it used to your presence. You can do this by spending time nearby, talking to it softly or singing a song. Reading a book aloud also helps.
The purpose of these activities is to allow the hamster to identify you – the owner, by your voice. Once it is able to recognize your vocal patterns, it’ll be much more open and willing to continue the training.
Start using treats to your advantage. A small treat for a hamster means about one-third of a piece of cereal. Hamsters love eating sunflower seeds, raisins, and other small fruits.
Start off by offering your hamster a small treat through the bars of the cage or right near the door if you’re using a tank. Hold it in your fingers and let the hamster come over and take it from you. Keep doing this a few times a day until it becomes natural.
Next, you can start letting it grab the treat from your hand. Put the treat in the center of your palm and place your hand gently down inside the shelter. Don’t thrust the treat towards your hamster; just leave your hand there and wait for it.
Although your furry pet might be cautious at first, it eventually will have to step on your hand in order to reach the treat. Again, continue this routine a few times a day until your hamster becomes familiar with it.
Once you can feel the hamster becoming more and more comfortable with climbing on your hand, you can now try to gently scoop it up out of the tank; nestled safely in your palm. The first few times you try this, the hamster will probably dart right off your hand in an instant, but don’t worry. It will soon come to realize that you mean it no harm.
Keep trying and remember, don’t rush it. Give your hamster plenty of time. The time that it takes between each of these steps can range from a few days to weeks or even a month.
Every hamster is different. Just keep going little by little every day until your hamster has mastered the basic training and you are able to pick it up comfortably and naturally whenever you like.
If you’ve gotten to this point, congratulations! You’ve passed the basic hamster training. You should now be able to safely pick up your hamster, carry it around with you, and more. Just be careful not to hold it up too high at first as it can become seriously injured if it jumps from your hand and falls to the ground.
Your hamster can now begin advanced training. There are a variety of tricks it can learn such as jumping through hoops, responding to its name, spinning in circles, standing on its hind legs, and more.