From a new environment to feeling small in a big world, here are the most common reasons your hamster has fear about you and how you can help them gain their trust.
If your hamster is afraid of you, It's normal to feel discouraged. After all, you've probably put a lot of love and attention into providing him with a wonderful home, and to see him act nervous or fearful in your presence would make any pet parent sad.
Although building a beautiful home for your hamster and furnishing it with the best hamster toys can help your furry friend settle into his environment and feel comfortable, your furry friend may sometimes be afraid of you, despite all the love and attention you give him.
Even if you've invested in one of the best hamster cages and equipped it with lots of wonderful accessories to make their habitat really feel like a home, it's good to keep in mind that our little pocket pets tend to be afraid of everything. Wouldn't you feel the same way if you were in their shoes and everything around you was bigger?
While there are many reasons why your hamster may be afraid of you, there are also many things you can do to gain its trust and begin to build a bond. Below, we've outlined the most common reasons and given you some helpful tips and tricks to help you develop a lasting bond.
How do you know if your hamster is afraid of you?
Observing his behavior and body language can help you see this more clearly. Here are some common signs to look for that indicate your hamster is afraid:
- He hides himself If you notice that your new pocket pet is hiding or starting to exhibit aloof behaviors at times of the day when it normally wouldn't (such as feeding time), it may be frightened by something.
- It bites The question "Why is my hamster biting me?" is a common one among pet parents and the answer is quite simple. Most small animals attack when they feel threatened and biting is often their way of letting you know they want you to back off.
- He is capricious A hamster that runs away when you approach its cage or try to touch it is probably afraid and running away is its way of protecting itself.
Hiding, biting and being fussy are three of the most common signs that your hamster is afraid. Once you've spotted any of these signs, the next step is to determine the reason for the behavior to help your hamster feel more comfortable.
5 reasons why your hamster may be afraid of you
There are 5 common reasons that can trigger fear in a hamster. Understanding them can help you know what you need to do to gain your hamster's trust.
1. They are in a new environment
If you've just welcomed your furry friend into your family or if you've recently moved your hamster into a new home, the change of environment can trigger a stress reaction in your pocket pet, which can make him nervous and scared.
When your hamster is in a new place, everything around him is different. He sees, hears and smells new things, and if you've just adopted your hamster, this may be the first time he's been alone in a cage without his brothers and sisters.
Some hamsters adapt immediately to their new environmentOthers need several days or even weeks to feel comfortable.
During the first few days your hamster is in a new environment, keep his cage covered with a cloth light and do not try to touch it. Give him plenty of room to breathe and let him get used to his new home at his own pace.
Covering his cage will allow him to explore this environment without having to deal with everything that is going on in the outside world.
You are big and they are small
Everything in his world seems incredibly big, which makes him feel incredibly small. And when you feel small, you also feel vulnerable.
Try to put yourself "in the shoes" of your hamster and think about how you'd feel if this very loving but very tall person started leaning over you cooing and trying to pet you - you'd probably be scared too, right?
The key to helping your pocket pet become less afraid is to start slowly and be very patient.
He is stressed
Just like with humans, stress can send your hamster into a fear spiral that causes it to shut down. What constitutes a stressful situation for your pocket pet? The following situations are likely to cause stress:
- A change in its immediate environment, such as a new cage or water bottle, or moving to a new room.
- The presence of another animal in the house
- the sudden presence of young children
- A change in their daily routine
- being in a noisy environment
- Moving the accessories in the cage
- A cage too small.
While some of these items may seem minor, for your hamster, anything that disrupts his routine or what he is used to can be a major source of stress and anxiety.
You woke him up!
If you're like us, being awakened from a deep sleep can make you feel like a grumpy bear and for our hamsters, it's no different, except that being awake can also trigger feelings of fear and disorientation that may cause them to bite.
Lack of confidence
It will take time to establish a strong trust relationship with your pet, and it's perfectly normal for it to take days or weeks for your pet to feel completely comfortable with you. The good news is that there are many things you can do to teach your pet that you can be trusted.
How to gain the trust of a hamster?
We recommend that you take a slow and steady approach to gaining your hamster's trust. Patience is essential.
The more you behave in a way that meets your hamster's needs, the more your hamster will see you as a safe, reliable and trustworthy pet. Here are some of our top tips to help make this process as smooth as possible:
Make sure he has a cage that fits
We know you're probably wondering what the size of the cage of your hamster may well have to do to gain its trust, but it can actually make all the difference.
When a hamster has plenty of room to move around, it feels happy and when it is happy, it is inclined to be more friendly and confident.
Give them time to adjust
If you have a new hamster or have recently moved it into a new home, it is crucial to give him time to get used to it to its new environment. While some hamsters have no problem settling in right away, others need several days or weeks to feel comfortable after a move.
Hamsters are a bit like children: they do best when they have a consistent routine and know what to expect. Fill them up food and their water and clean their cage at the same time each day, as this eliminates the dreaded element of surprise, which our pocket pets do not like.
Approach it slowly
Our little furry friends don't have the best view, so the first thing to do is avoid approaching them too quickly. If you really want to spend time with your pet, sit in a chair next to his cage and watch him.
After a few days, try to place a treat in your hands and place your hand flat in his cage to see if you can draw him to you. Your hamster may jump right into your palm and eat the treat, or it may sniff a little and then move away. Try placing the treat on one of your fingertips and see if that makes him more comfortable.
Don't force him to interact
The quickest way to break trust with your hamster is to try to force contact, as this is sure to scare him away. Don't grab your hamster or try to hold him in place so you can pet him. Instead, let him come to you and respect the fact that he should move at his own pace.
Some hamsters will unfortunately never feel comfortable getting too close, while others will soon feel safe to let you hold them.
Don't punish your hamster
Unlike our feline friends and canine companions, who know when they have been good or bad, our pocket pets do not understand the concept of punishment.
Trying to use negative reinforcement to teach your hamster that behaviors like biting are not acceptable will not work.
Instead, reinforce good behaviour with treats, and if your hamster is exhibiting undesirable behaviors, accept that he is doing so out of fear and stress and leave him alone.
Provide plenty of opportunities for fun
Hamsters love all kinds of activities and games, whether it's running around on their wheel or play with adapted toys. So try to provide them with many things that will stimulate them physically and mentally.