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That's the Hamsterific Sensasian GoofDogg00 with a hamster on her shoulder. Hamsters, are by nature, afraid of anything that is not a hamster. While you are not an exception, your hamster can be trained to become accustomed to being handled and learn that humans can be friends too.

First and foremost, unless your hamster is in pain (and needing medical attention), you should never startle a snoozing hamster. When aroused from a deep sleep, the hamster's first instinct is to be defensive and protect itself from the intruder the only way it knows how; a big, nasty, painful hamster bite!

Since hamsters have very poor eyesight, they depend primarily on their sense of smell and hearing to guide them. Tap on the cage, move the water bottle, and talk to him—be sure he is awake, alert and knows that he is in no immediate danger. Always wash your hands before handling a hamster—the odor of that last piece of chicken you ate may smell like a delicious tidbit instead of the hand of his loving owner and friend.

THE TAMING OF THE HAMSTER

Can someone tell this kid he has a hamster on his head? Young hamsters are shy and timid and taming them takes time, patience, gentle handling, familiarity and kindness are all necessary gain their trust. Keep in mind that in the wild a hamster's primary reaction against what it perceives to be a predator is to be aggressive so in order to overcome this natural instinct you will need to be patient. Start working with your hamster(s) in the evening, when they are up and about. At first work with them around the open cage, preferably on the floor so that if he jumps it's a short fall. When first picking a hamster up, support them by using both hands to gently "scoop" them up. You shouldn't just reach in and attempt to pick him up, the odds are high that he will assume a defensive position (on his back, front paws up and teeth showing). If this happens, don't even attempt to pick him up - the result could be very painful. Instead, give the hamster some time to relax and calm down, offer a treat and try to gently stroke him on the back so he becomes used to being touched. It may take several sessions; but be patient. Once your hamster gains confidence and trust, he will become a faithful friend.

Sometimes a hamster will "squeal" when attempting to handle him - the squeal is a sign that he is afraid. They usually don't bite when squealing, but there are exceptions to every rule! If he has been handled previously, go ahead and gently pick him up. The squealing will stop as he relaxes and no longer senses danger.

Once the task of picking him up has been accomplished, be cautious not to let him fall. Because of their poor eyesight they have no perception of how far it is to the floor and a serious injury could result. Now, holding him close gently stroke his back - some even like their foreheads rubbed. The rest will come with time.

HAMSTER HANDLING DO'S AND DON'TS

Do:
• Talk to him in a soft gentle voice.
• Move slowly prior to and during handling.
• Wash hands prior to handling him so your scent is always the same.
• Allow him to smell your hand so he knows what is intruding into his domain.
• Allow him to calm down if he is afraid at first.
• Be patient; hamster confidence is not built in a day.

Don't:
× Make quick or jerky movements, a startled hamster is a defensive hamster.
× Make loud noises, their sense of hearing is acute.
× Let him fall from great heights.
× Pick up a sleeping hamster.

Good luck training your hamster! The results of your patience and care will be worth every moment spent gaining your hamster's trust.

Graphic Artist Andy Markison
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You should rinse your hamster's water bottles with diluted household bleach periodically.
This simple duty kills any algae that may be starting to grow inside the water bottle.
Algae is especially prevalent in bottles receiving direct sunlight.
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