When a hamster or gerbil bites, it is a sign that they feel endangered. With this in mind, it becomes easier to understand how to tame them, here is how.
1. It is advisable to leave your hamster or gerbil alone for the first couple of days so that they become familiar with their new surroundings. If you hold them at this early stage, you may not realise that they are biting as their teeth have not yet developed, but chances are that they are.
2. Hamsters and gerbils have poor eyesight and rely heavily on their sense of smell. A crucial part of taming them is to therefore ensure they feel comfortable with your smell and do not associate it with danger. Always wash your hands before handling – often if you have just eaten, the hamster or gerbil may think that it is food and bite. Additionally, the aim is to get them used to your smell so, in contaminating this smell will only confuse them.
Place some food in the palm of your hand and put your hand, palm faced up in the cage. You will see that your hamster or gerbil will start sniffing around and will know when he/she feels safe with your smell when he/she voluntarily walks onto your hand and feels comfortable enough to eat food from your palm. This stage may take time so patience is of the essence, but very worthwhile.
3. When you start holding your hamster or gerbil let him/her walk from one open palm of your hand to another and so on. It is a good idea to be seated and to ensure that your hamster or gerbil is facing you so that if he/she chooses to jump, he/she will have a safer landing.
When you get used to holding your hamster or gerbil, using the same motion as before, start cupping your hands lightly around their body so they feel secure.
A hamster or gerbil can be a very nice pet to have that is all too often ruined when they start biting. Instead of letting this put you off, take these small steps to taming him/her and soon enough you will have the pet you always wanted!