In the beginning, your hamster won't know you from anyone else. With proper socialization, however, not only will your hamster recognize you, he'll bond with you. In order to maintain this bond, you'll need to handle your hamster regularly. You can't expect your hamster to bond with everyone, though. According to Betsy Sikora Siino, hamsters bond with one to two people, which means that your hamster may tolerate guests and other family members, but he'll only bond and recognize you and possibly one other person.
Due to his poor vision, your hamster will not get to know you by sight. The process of socialization is meant to introduce your scent and voice to the animal. During the first two days, you will simply hold your hand in the hamster's cage. On the first day he may not even come near you. Eventually, once he senses there isn't a threat, he'll come to investigate and sniff your hand. Don't make any sudden movements. Continue this until the hamster crawls into your hand. Do this until he seems comfortable, then slowly move your hand to pet him gently. After a few more days, your hamster will be comfortable with you handling him and will come to know you and your scent.
During the entire process, speak softly to him so he also learns your voice. Also make sure you always wash your hands before sticking them in the cage.
Through the one- to two-week socialization period, your hamster will become used to your scent. Everyone's scent is different, and hamster's have a wonderful sense of smell that will allow him to discern whether you're the one picking him up. You may even notice him stand on his hind legs when you pass by his cage because he smells you and wants attention.
Introducing the sound of your voice during the socialization period will also help your hamster recognize you. If he's in his burrow, you can gently coax him out with the sound of your voice. Hamsters are blessed with great hearing and spook easily. Keep your voice gentle so as not to scare your pet.
Importance of Regular Handling
Hamsters require regular handling in order to stay tame and socialized. Not only that, but hamsters enjoy your company and thrive on the attention you provide. If you want to continue the bond you have with your hamster and ensure he always recognizes you, take him out of his habitat nightly, even if you only have a few minutes to spare.
- "Hamster: Your Healthy Happy Pet"; Betsy Sikora Siino; 1997
- Pet Care Education: Hamster Training
- Hamsters As Pets: Hamster Senses
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Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.