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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2011, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Smile New hamster owner, needs help with biting issue

Hello everyone! My boyfriend and I recently got a male Russian dwarf hamster. At the petsmart where we bought him, he seemed nervous when we touched him but did not bit at all. However after a couple of days when I was changing his water and food he would nip me a bit. I figured it was because I was invading his space. But now I'm sure he is used to his new surroundings but he is still biting. He no longer nibbles, he bites hard. I tried giving him treats in my hand and letting him come to me but he would take the food and leave. Is it because he's still getting used to his new environment? Sometimes we feel that his (wired) cage is too small for him. I've read some topics here and there and most people seem to really like aquariums better. Any advice to help stop my hamster's biting problem? Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 12:49 AM
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My hamsters were always freaked out in wire cages, as near as I can figure they didn't feel safe. They've always been so much more calm in aquariums, because they know they have solid protection when they want it. Will that necessary solve the biting? I doubt it. Regardless, though, I think it would be a great investment to get him to calm down. Then you might have to start all over again with re-introducing yourself. Rub your scent all over some treats and leave them in his cage, and get your scent on whatever you can that he's commonly exposed to, but without stressing him out(like you wouldn't want to shift his nest all around just to get your scent on it). Speaking of which..does he have a dark place to nest?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 08:39 AM
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I agree with the above post, an aquarium might make him feel more secure. Another possible enclosure (and what I usually use for hamsters) is a bin cage. With a dwarf hamster you probably wouldn't even need a top if you get a deep enough bin. It's a cheap way of giving your hamster tons of space (and they're easier to clean than traditional cages and aquariums).

How is he outside of the cage? Does he calm down? If so, you could try scooping him up in a container to take him out (instead of trying to pick him up).




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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah I bought him an igloo for him to sleep in and he tends to be in there most of the time, as of right now hes more comfortable with letting me touch him a little, like stroking his back when hes in his cage. Before he would just scurry away when I barely touch him at all. I recently changed his bedding and I rubbed my hand all over the bedding so I'm gonna see if that helped at all. I still never tried to carry him at all because he would bite. I put him in his little hamster ball and let him roam around quite a bit but when I put treats on my hand and try to get him to get on my hand from the ball he would eat the treat and bite my finger or the palm of my hand. But other than that I've never really let him outside the cage because of his biting.

Thanks for the cage recommendation! (:
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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Theodor also seems to like climbing his wired cage, could that be a sign that he needs more room ? The pet stores usually keep the hamsters in an aquarium cage so I should get him one as well right ? I also researched that if hamsters keep biting I should use garden gloves so they can see that I wont harm them? I'm not sure can you tell me more about that?
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 02:00 PM
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I'm not putting down Dwarf hamsters but they are 'nippier' that the regular type hamsters. I've never owned one of those but have owned plenty of teddys, pandas etc. My 2 friends have owned Russian and they both say they are very high strung and biters. It might end up where you won't be able to change that behaviour. But keep persisting..i'm sure they are not all like that. Did I hear that Russian Dwarfs require company or am I thinking of something else? I know that other hamster definately do not have room mates. Maybe if this is true then he/she needs a buddy?
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2011, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoJo1970 View Post
I'm not putting down Dwarf hamsters but they are 'nippier' that the regular type hamsters. I've never owned one of those but have owned plenty of teddys, pandas etc. My 2 friends have owned Russian and they both say they are very high strung and biters. It might end up where you won't be able to change that behaviour. But keep persisting..i'm sure they are not all like that. Did I hear that Russian Dwarfs require company or am I thinking of something else? I know that other hamster definately do not have room mates. Maybe if this is true then he/she needs a buddy?
good luck
Apparently not, if you read the other most recent thread about Dwarf hamsters in this forum. Some are good with buddies, some aren't.

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Originally Posted by Ivaaa View Post
Theodor also seems to like climbing his wired cage, could that be a sign that he needs more room ? The pet stores usually keep the hamsters in an aquarium cage so I should get him one as well right ? I also researched that if hamsters keep biting I should use garden gloves so they can see that I wont harm them? I'm not sure can you tell me more about that?
Climbing is instinctual for hamsters, regardless of the cage. It's exercise, but doesn't necessarily mean he needs more room. Still, I think the aquarium or bin cage would be the best idea, with an exercise wheel, of course, and plenty of time outside the cage. How did you try taming him when you got him? My first step is to enable trust; if they look like they're stuck on top of a thing in their cage, I'll put my hand level with it, and if they climb aboard I'll slowly elevator them down the floor of the cage. They learn they can trust me if they ever get stuck. If they completely ignore my hand, and jump down themselves(some have), then I'll slowly approach with a treat. A snag and run is still a good sign. But if you do it long enough eventually they'll snag it, and eat it sitting right there. And eventually they'll start taking it gently, and eat it sitting on your hand in their cage. Don't try and touch him at all if he isn't receptive. Focus instead on rewarding him when he even gets close - which is why offering a treat and seeing a "snag and run" is still a VERY good sign. Just keep up with that, and getting your scent on his things. Eventually he'll associate your scent and your hand in his cage with a treat, and eventually he'll learn to trust you, I don't think he's a lost cause..the only dwarf I had was nasty, but I'm sure now it was from bad breeding. She wouldn't bite if I put my hand in the cage, but she started charging to bite if I got my hand near her. She would not stand for being touched or held. One day my dad was offering her a Cheerio, and once she saw his hand, she bypassed the Cheerio completely, and lunged at my dad's finger. Your guy isn't doing that - so you're totally doing good right now, just have a bit of work to do, She died either by hemorrhaging her brain from repeatedly throwing herself against the aquarium walls, or gave herself a heart attack from all the stress she caused herself(because we were very gentle with her), and I STILL cried when I found her dead, even though I was never able to hold her, x.x I remember being so distraught after failing as a pet owner that when I found her dead I lugged her cage into the living room where my parents were and devastatingly told them to dig a grave.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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He climbs onto of his igloo every once in awhile but and he doesn't seem to be stuck at all. I really don't know how to tame him. I let him smell me off him treats all the time! Though I do seem some progress with him since he lets me touch him but I'm trying to be more patient with his biting. Is there any other suggestions how to tame him? I'm trying hard to get him to trust me but it seems like hes too stubborn. I'm still not sure whether to get a bin cage or an aquarium though I just want him to be completely comfortable and relaxed
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 10:51 AM
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That's what I'm saying - he'll probably be a ton more comfortable and thus easier to tame if you get him an aquarium or bin cage. Something I loved(because I've never tried a bin cage), is the SuperPet cage topper for an aquarium. It gives them the security of the glass down below, and the ability to climb wires if they love that so much up top. Another cage to consider is a Habitrail Ovo for Dwarves and Mice. I got one for my orphaned Deer Mouse a while ago, because he got real depressed in his aquarium, and he LOVED that cage.

You may be confusing receptiveness to touch with passive fear, which then, as you know, randomly turns into aggressive fear and he bites. It's kind of like how you're NEVER supposed to pet or comfort an upset animal, because the petting makes them think it's okay to be in that state of mind. It isn't. He's biting because he doesn't trust you, so you need to give him reason to trust you. Any amount of touching between you is a good thing, but it doesn't need to happen instantly. He's very well capable of touching YOU when he's ready for it. You can just lay your hand inside his cage and wait. A lot of the time they'll go about their business and completely ignore your hand. But if you do that several times a day, every day, eventually they'll get curious enough and wander over. There's lots of methods people use to tame. Use all methods you can think of that involve putting your scent on his things, and getting him comfortable with your hand just being there in his domain, but absolutely avoids you touching him. He'll come to your hand when he's ready.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Okay I change his cage first to see if that helps and I'll start putting my hand in his cage everyday. I actually tried it once and he bit me really hard though I think it was just out of fear I saw a bit of curiosity but its okay I will stay positive with his biting issue, its just a matter of time. Thanks a lot for the advice it was very helpful (:
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Oh one more question if I were to get an aquarium or a bin cage how big should it be? I only have one hamster but I still want it to be roomy for him
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 01:49 PM
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A 10 gal aquarium is fine for a single dwarf, as for a bin cage, I'm not sure, as it requires a bit of modification(like cutting out a section in the top to put a screen for air circulation). I'm sure someone here has a bin cage, and they could tell you what size container would be good for it,
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot!
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2011, 04:37 PM
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http://www.bitterepiphany.com/bin_cage.html

I used a 40-gallon bin but I had a Syrian. Smaller hamsters don't need quite as much space but always go for the largest you have room for .




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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 01:21 PM
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I guess they prefer the tank because they feel more protected. But my hamster likes his wired cage, i guess as each hamster is different, he`ll like the tank best.
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