How to Pet a Hamster: 9 Happy vs. Unhappy Signs
Petting a hamster can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your pet. But, did you know that when you pet your hamster, there are signs to help you tell if he or she is happy or unhappy?
To help make this clearer, we have compiled a list of signs to look out for when determining how your furry friend feels about being touched. If they show any of these signs listed below, then it’s time to rethink how you’re interacting with them!
Do hamsters like to be held and petted?
Yes, hamsters do enjoy being held and petted. However, it requires the proper technique and time for them to feel secure with you.
When you first start petting your hamster, he or she will not be so excited. However, after a little while, they may show signs of happiness, such as trying to get closer to you.
How to pet a hamster?
A hamster normally enjoys being petted, either on the back or belly.
If your hamster tries to escape from your hand when you’re trying to pet him or her then he or she could be feeling a bit insecure and is not enjoying it.
But if your hamster actually leans into your touch while rolling around in pleasure, this is a sign that your hamster really enjoys being petted.
Normally, it is best to pet a hamster for about five minutes at the time and then let them go back to a safe area.
The steps to holding and petting a hamster are:
- Verify that the hamster is in a safe area or spot.
- Make sure you don’t place your hand directly over top of them if they are on their back; this may make them feel trapped and threatened (and unhappy).
- Hold the hamster by placing one hand under its front feet, gently cupping it with both hands at the back, and holding it close to your chest with one arm.
- Transfer your hamster to your non-dominate hand, ensuring the hamster is secure.
- Pet the hamster with your opposite hand, starting at its head and moving down to the tail.
Signs of happiness and unhappiness in hamsters?
Hamsters are very expressive creatures, so their body language can say a lot about how they feel.
Happy Hamster Signs
- Showing their belly. A hamster who is feeling safe and loved will likely show his or her belly to you. But, do not force your hammie to show its belly because you will stress it out. That’s a no-no.
- Nuzzling. A happy hamster will nuzzle their head into your hand when you pet them.
- Shiny Coat. Hamsters that are not stressed and are happy take good care of their furry coat. It will be shiny and smooth.
Unhappy Hamster Signs
- Puffed Cheeks and Forward Ear. If your hammies ears are forward with their cheek pouches puffed up and mouth open, look out, they are stressed and ready to defend themselves.
- Hissing. This is a sign that your hamster does not want to be petted.
- Biting you. Hamsters are never, ever happy when they bite you!
- Shivering / Trembling. A hamster who is terrified will freeze in place and may shiver or tremble, or try to run away from you.
It’s always important to note how your fuzzy friend responds when you pet them and to be sure that his or her body is relaxed. For example, a tense hamster will usually try to pull away from the hand, but a happy one should enjoy being touched!
Ways to make your hamster happy?
- Pet them and talk to them in a soothing voice
- Avoid sudden movements
- Give your hamster treats that they enjoy, such as cereal or fresh fruit. Try using different foods each day so that you can see which ones are his favorites! (Make sure all of the food is safe for hamsters, like lettuce, cucumber, carrots)
- Play with your hamster! They love to run around and explore, so give them a little time outside of their cage. (Be sure that you move slowly when playing with the furry friend – they don’t like it if you’re too rough)
- Provide your hamster with many toys to play with, like balls, tunnels, and tubes. They love climbing into these little hideaways!
- Give them lots of attention. They are social animals, and they need love to be happy!
How to avoid an unhappy hamster
- Don’t pick up your hamster by the tail.
- Don’t aggressive with sudden movements and loud noises.
- Don’t drop the furry friend from a high place (a foot or two off of the ground should be fine)
- If you don’t want to keep him after he gets big, give them away in person instead of releasing him into nature where they may not find food or shelter.
- Please don’t feed your hamster meat, and don’t give them dog/cat food. They need a high-fiber diet to keep their digestive tract healthy (hint: they love fruits, vegetables, and grains!)
- Ensure the substrate is deep enough and that it’s not too hard for them to dig in.
- Don’t feed your hamster chocolate or caffeine (chocolate has a chemical called theobromine, which can be lethal)
- Please don’t clip their teeth – they need those sharp little chompers! They use them for grooming and to defend themselves.
- Don’t handle them after they’ve eaten because their digestive system works very fast.
- Cleaning the cage is an important part of hamster care (about once per week). Disinfect it with soap or vinegar weekly as well.
What makes a hamster feel safe and secure?
Hamsters feel safe when there are no loud noise, no sudden movements, and no pets or other animals in the area. Remember that hamster have heightened senses since their eyesight is very myopic. [link to what does a hamster see]
A hamster will feel safe and secure when they have a clean environment, plenty of food and water, exercise space, hiding places to sleep in (such as under the bedding), an interesting area for them to explore with toys such as tunnels and ladders.
To make a hamster feel safe and secure, you need to make sure that he or she has a place in his cage where they can retreat if needed.
You may have noticed that your hamster has a special place in his cage where he or she likes to sleep. This is called the “den” and should be allowed to remain so that your pet can feel safe when they need it most.
Petting time! If your hamster spends a lot of time on its back with its stomach exposed, this may indicate that it wants you to pet its stomach.
If your hamster is shy, it will most likely run away when you approach him or her for a cuddle and may not be comfortable with being held in your arms. But if he’s always rubbing up against you, this could indicate that they want more attention from their owner – who are we kidding?
What are the best ways for me to bond with my new hamster or tame my old one if it’s scared of humans?
If your hamster is shy, it can be difficult for them to get used to being held and petted.
It is important not to give them too much attention at first because these little guys need some space when they’re getting used to new surroundings and owners.
To make the process go more smoothly, try sitting near him or her without holding onto them. This way, he’ll still feel safe but maybe less threatened than if we were trying to pick them up straight away.
After a few days, it’s time to help him or her become more comfortable with you.
Try sitting in front of the cage until he comes closer and starts rubbing up against the bars. When they are close enough, reach into the cage slowly so that they know that you’re not trying anything bad!
Pick him up gently and give him a few pets on his back or stomach before putting them back down again. Only hold them for a 10-20 seconds at first and gradually increase the time.
Never put an unhappy animal’s head near their bottom as this will scare them even more.
Over time he’ll learn which ones make you happy (petting) and which ones don’t (picking them up or putting their head near the bottom).
That’s how to pet a hamster!
Do hamsters like to be held and petted? Yes, they love it. They might even come up to you on their own if they are more tame than others.
How to tell if your hamster likes being petted? If he is rubbing his face against the cage bars eagerly when you slowly reach into the cage, then this means that he enjoys being given attention from humans.
Signs that a hamster is happy: She will often purr while leaning into your hand or trying to climb onto your lap. When rubbed behind the ears, some may get so relaxed that they fall asleep. A happy hamster will also show signs of being well-groomed and may have a shiny coat, too.
Signs that a hamster is unhappy: Hamsters will not purr when petted or will move away to avoid contact with humans; their coats are unkempt, and they might be showing signs of stress. An unhappy hamster will also show different behaviors, such as biting or scratching humans and hiding most of the time.
Are small hamsters more likely to bite? There are some general thoughts that small hamsters might be more prone to bite. This is typical because it is easier to scare smaller hamsters and they may feel the need to defend themselves. Check out our Hamster Size charts to see how big hamsters get.