When wanting to find out about a hamster’s personality, look to the hamster’s temperament, which has both hereditary and environmental components. Ask about the hamster’s parents and evaluate their temperament — this is the best indicator of any hamster pup’s (baby hamster) adult temperament. Ideally, you want a hamster that acts somewhat relaxed and curious and does not seem to be overly stressed by being handled.
Keep in mind young hamsters go through a stage where they object to the entire handling process. This will happen no matter how much handling the hamsters have received beforehand. Also remember that like many young animals, hamster pups are often nervous.
For example, many Syrian hamster pups will spontaneously leap out of your hands. To prevent injuries, handle the hamsters while sitting on a carpeted floor, couch or other soft surface. Unlike dwarf hamsters, Syrian hamster pups may also go through a screaming phase where they rear back and scream when you try to pick them up. This is usually due to fear and an uncertainty about their environment. Be very careful and delicate when handling hamster pups at this stage. With time and taming, they will mature out of it.
Always handle any hamster you are considering buying. If possible, sit on the floor because hamster pups are prone to jumping. Let the hamster walk around on you and explore. Gently pick it up and set it back down slowly and steadily.
See how comfortable the hamster is with your hands but never squeeze it. Instead, use an open hand and allow the hamster to walk from hand to hand. It will want to explore any new environment. Don’t worry if it nibbles a bit, it’s a hamster’s way to “see” you and identify what you are. If a hamster bites when you first handle it, though, expect it to bite when you get home.
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Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Hamsters here.