Gerbils & Hamsters/Dwarf hamster advice?
I am in the process of taming my winter white female.She is not vicious,but a little skittish.How can I get her to get used to my scent/tame her?I heard of people putting a piece of toilet paper in their pocket to get their scent on it and then putting it in their cage so they get used to my scent.
Also,I was giving her a treat to tame her,then she nibbled on my finger a little.I didn't mind it at first until it got a little more bite-like.Wasn't exactly a bite,but not gentle nibbling.Is it a sign of trust/affection?or was it because she thought my finger was food because it smelled like it?I don't think it was because it was frightened,she walked up to my hand and started to nibble.I'll probably wash my hands after giving a treat next time so she doesn't possibly mistake my fingers for food.
Also,are cardboard toilet paper tubes/toilet paper safe for hamsters?I don't think hamsters can digest cardboard,but I've heard of people using it.
I am thinking about making home-made toys for my hamsters,which materials are safe(popsicle sticks,cereal boxes,etc.)?I might also make wood houses/furniture for my hamsters as well,which woods are safe for them?If you don't know,it's fine.
Also,if a hamster bites you and it draws blood,do you just wash your hands with soap and water?
I would also like some tips on taming her.
Thanks for your question.
The first thing to remember is that hamsters have terrible eyesight therefore anything that they smell is potentially food or an attacker. This can result in accidental bites. Hamsters do also 'taste' fingers in that they scrape their teeth along it first to try to establish if it is edible.
I find the bet way to handle a hamster is to rub some of their bedding into my hands. Then I quickly 'scoop' the hamster up and immediately put the hamster on clothing. Hamsters tend to get a bit freaked out if they walk on skin.
I talk to my hamsters a lot and I believe this really helps tame them. Regarding handling - i think doing this daily even if it is only for a few minutes is better than handling less often. Treats are good to give but I never let them eat from my hand in case of accidental bites.
Paper tubes are fine for hamsters to play in but it is good to make toys too but you do need to be careful with using wood. Cypress, pine and cedar are to be avoided as they contain a volatile oil called thujone which can cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties.
If a hamster or any pet bites (hamster bites can be deep) you really ought to have a tetanus injection - I think these last for ten years. You should always wash a bite immediately and use some antiseptic. It is good to cover with a plaster dressing especially if you are cleaning them out as you don't want to get their urine on a cut or it will infect. If you are in any doubt please phone your doctor as a tetanus jab has to be done within a certain number of hours - they will know if it is necessary.
I hope this helps you.