Do dwarf hamsters bite? This is a common question by potential hamster owners or parents looking to get their kids a new pet hamster. The short answer is yes. However, it is not common and dwarf hamsters rarely bite without reason. Also, dwarf hamsters are more likely to nibble than to inflict a real bite that draws blood. Since neither nibbling nor biting is ideal, we’ll refer to them both as biting in this article. The following explains why dwarf hamsters bite and the ways you can stop a dwarf hamster from biting.
Why do dwarf hamsters bite?
- The hamster is startled
A sleeping hamster or one that is unaware of your presence may react by biting if you try to pick it up suddenly.
- The hamster sees you as a threat
Hamsters are territorial and may see you as an invader if you poke your finger into their cage. If you are reaching for your hamster from above, it may also regard you as a predator and bite in defense.
- The hamster is frightened
Are you holding your hamster too tightly? It may frighten your hamster and cause it to bite.
- Your hand or fingers smell of food
Hamsters have highly sensitive noses and if you’re handling your hamster right after touching food, it may mistaken your fingers for food and start nibbling on it.
- It also depends on the hamster’s personality
Some hamsters are more prone to biting than others. My two robo dwarf hamsters, Ichigo and Blueberry, have vastly different personalities. Ichigo has never bitten me under any circumstances but Blueberry has a tendency to nibble on anything that’s put near his face.
Here’s Blueberry the robo dwarf hamster biting at my glove:
How to stop a dwarf hamster from biting
- Wash your hands before handling the hamster
- Alert a hamster to your presence by putting your hand slowly in front of it and letting the hamster sniff your hand before attempting to pick it up
- If your hamster is territorial, try playing with it outside the cage in a neutral area
- If your hamster looks scared or takes on a defensive stance, leave it alone for a while instead of trying to interact with it
- If a hamster tends to nibble, put on gloves before interacting with it
Training your dwarf hamster not to bite
According to the book Hamsterlopaedia, “reprimanding” your hamster by giving it a light tap on the nose and saying “No!” can teach your hamster that biting is unacceptable and may stop this bad behavior.
But here’s a different tip left by a reader, “cms”:
You should never ever hit a hamster for biting you. Not even a little bop on the nose. They should never see your hands as something that gives punishment, only treats and love. The first time you bop a hamster, they won’t ever forget. Try lightly blowing on their face (not hard enough to scare them) it will let them know that they aren’t supposed to do it without making them afraid of that big looming hand. If you strike them for biting, you’re only reinforcing the fear that caused the bite in the first place.