The first 30 days with your hamster is a big time of transition for your little pet. To minimize stress and help them settle in more comfortably, there are practical steps you can take on the run-up to their arrival and during this first month. Let’s take a look at the first 30 days, what to expect, and what you can do to help your hamster feel at home.
Before Bringing your Hamster Home
With some advance planning, you'll be ready to care for your hamster the right way from the very beginning.
First, ensure you have a suitable spot in your home for your hamster to live. While you don't want them shut away in a room with no company, it is just as important that your hamster's cage is not right in the middle of all the action. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures, so daytime is mostly nap-time. It is good for your hamster to be a part of the family, but too much noise and commotion can create a stressed animal.
Make sure you have purchased all the necessary equipment and that it is all set up in advance of their arrival. You don't want to delay getting your hamster into their new space or be fiddling with things while they are in it on day one - they will already be stressed enough
You'll need a suitably-sized cage that is equipped with all the necessary supplies including high-quality hamster food, bedding, nesting areas, exercise areas, hamster toys, and safe chews
Have you thought about names for your hamster? While it's not necessary before bringing your new pet home, this is a fun activity to keep the children involved in the process
You might want to research local vets and pet sitting service during this time too.
When you first get your hamster home, the family will no doubt be eager to interact and bond with them. However, it is best to leave your hamster alone for the first few days. Remember, they were just taken away from their comforts and safe areas, so they will likely be nervous.
It may even be best to cover the cage with a thin sheet during this time. Doing this will help avoid overstimulating your hamster.
After the first few days, you may periodically approach the cage and talk to your hamster in a calm, kind voice. This will help your pet become accustomed to your presence.
If possible, provide your hamster with the same food they have been eating. If you are planning on switching your hamster’s diet, do so slowly and gradually. Starting them out on the same food they are acclimated to will minimize the chance of causing stomach upsets.
By now your hamster will likely have made themselves at home in their cage, and also be more comfortable with the surroundings and activities of your house. If you have been switching your hamster’s diet, they should be fully adjusted to their new food by now.
At this point, you can begin focusing on handling and getting acquainted with your hamster. The first and most important step in taming your hamster is to build trust. Be patient and don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than expected before your hamster wants to venture over to your hand or out of the cage that has become their safe place.
Start by placing your hand in the bottom of the cage, with your palm up and fingers relaxed. Give your hamster the opportunity to come over and check you out. They may lightly nibble your fingers as part of his exploration–be sure that you don't jerk your hand back suddenly or yell, which may startle your hamster. Consider offering treats from the palm of your hand to encourage them and build positive associations.
In time, your hamster will see your hand as a friendly presence in their environment. When they begin to step onto your hand, progress to putting both hands in the cage with your palms up. Then gently scoop up your hamster to hold them. Only aim for a minute or two in the beginning and keep handling sessions short and positive. If your hamster squeals or becomes anxious, return them to their safe space.
Avoid grabbing or forcing your hamster to come out, as this will only break the trust.
By day 30, you will better understand your hamster's routine, personality, and preferences. With patience and diligence, you will be able to win your hamster’s trust. You may even have a hamster who willingly jumps into your hand! However, don’t be too discouraged if you haven’t reached this point. Remember, hamsters are small, vulnerable animals. In the wild, they have to be very cautious so it is only natural for them to be cautious around you as well.
Now that you are getting to know your hamster better, you can better choose activities and treats that you know your hamster will enjoy. Perhaps your hamster likes to run a marathon on their wheel. Or maybe they like to roll around the house in a hamster ball.
With a little preparation and forethought, you can help make the first 30 days with your new hamster as stress-free and successful as possible. Keep in mind that every hamster is different, so it may take a shorter or longer period of time than outlined here before your hamster is comfortable in their new surroundings. Being patient and working with your hamster is worth the reward of bonding with your new furry friend!