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Gerbils & Hamsters/russian dwarf hamster


I recently got a russian dwarf hamster, about 3 days ago.
I brought him home and set up his cage with carefresh bedding and added some of these paper shavings that he had in his cage at the pet store which he was burried under when i saw him.
We got him settled in and he was very active so i let him roll around in his ball until he was tired out. He was very friendly, and was crawling around on me and never bit once.
Hes been very active seen ive gotten him, even when i hold him hes constantly moving.
I realized while in his cage all he does is itch, i researched carefresh bedding and it said that it shouldnt be causing allergies. Im not sure if theres something else he could be allergic to or what would cause this? The only thing i could think of were the paper shavings but he had those in his cage at the pet store. He also isn't drinking much but I think thats because the water bottle that came with his cage is very low and he has to lay on his back to drink properly, so I'm buying a new one for his cage tomorrow. I was just wondering if you thought i should change his bedding? I already bought a huge bag of it but I could return it no problem. I also had "hamster fluff" in the cage which my old hamster loved but I thought maybe that could be the cause so I took that out after the first day. He also sleeps a lot, I dont know if this matters just thought id add that in!
Any help would be appreciated, as well as any way to get him to calm down a bit? He doesn't seem to ever want to cuddle, and my old hamster would lay on my chest all the time.
I put him in his ball and he runs like crazy but only runs in his wheel at night and not for long
Thank you!

Hi Emily

Thanks for your question.

First of all hamsters can be allergic to their surroundings.  It is worth swapping the bedding - perhaps just for a week or two put in paper towels that you can tear up for him.  Also, be careful there are no air fresheners, pot pourri or perfumes near his cage.

Hamsters tend not to drink much - in fact if you notice them drinking alot then there is usually something wrong with them.  However, it is important that they have access to the water bottle, so it is good that you are sorting this out.

Male hamsters do tend to sleep a lot during the day - this is quite normal, although dwarf hamsters often have odd bursts of energy throughout the day.  

In terms of calming him down so that you can handle him - this is really a case of persevering with him.  Try and get him out every day and handle him for a few minutes or so at a time - this way you should win his trust.  All hamsters vary in personality - I have had some who are very easy to handle - one of my dwarf hamsters used to sit in my pyjama jacket pocket while I had my breakfast!  Others won't sit still for a second.  It really depends, but the more time you can put in with taming him now the better.

In terms of the itchiness etc. it really is a case of doing detective work and try by eliminating various things such as the bedding, then re-introducing them one at a time in the hope that you can establish what is causing the problem.

I hope this helps you.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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