How to Teach Hamsters to do Tricks
Once you and your hamster become friends it's time to take it to the next level...teaching him to do tricks. This is a fun way for the two of you to spend time together and a great chance for your hamster to get needed exercise and socialization. You will need lots of patience and lots of treats, but soon enough your little pal will have a few cute simple tricks to brag about.
Before You Start
Before you start trying to teach your hamster anything it is necessary that he be used to being handled and that the two of you have some level of trust already built up. Offering a treat (which can be a sunflower seed from the food dish) at feeding time is a good way to start. Taking a treat from your hand is not only a cute trick in itself it is a necessary skill in order for any other tricks to be successfully taught.
**Keep in mind**
- Hamsters are small fragile critters. Always use great care when handling them.
- Young children need to be supervised when handling hamsters.
- It is best not to handle pregnant females or babies under 2 weeks old.
Treats Treats Treats
The way to a hamsters heart is definitely through their stomach. They will do almost anything for the right treat. Small bits of food can be used to cajole even the shiest hamster out of the cage and onto your hand. As you and your hamster get to know each other better you will learn what his favorites are.
Kinds of treats
Store Bought - There is an endless number of commercially made treats for hamsters available at pet and discount stores. Different hamsters have different tastes so it may take some trial and error to find which flavors your hamster likes best. Be careful that you don't overdo it. Just like with people too many treats can be bad for your little friend.
Hamster food - My favorite treats are seeds from the hamster's regular food. Sunflower, pumpkin and other seeds make great treats. For some reason most hamsters seem much more excited about the sunflower seed in your hand than the one in their dish. The benefit of using things from their food dish is that you don't have to worry as much about limiting the amount they get.
People Food - The only people foods that should be given to hamsters are fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds (preferably raw and unsalted), and some whole grain unsweetened cereals. Care should be taken to not overfeed these kinds of treats. Meats, cooked foods, chips, cookies, candy, and other people foods can be bad for your hamster and should never be used as treats.
Now for the Fun Part
Usually all that is needed to teach a hamster to take a treat from your hand is to offer the treat. If your hamster is very shy or hasn't been handled much it may take a little more to get him to take the treat. Either way take it slowly and let the hamster be your guide. He will tell you when he's ready to move forward.
When dealing with a shy hamster start by adding a treat to their food dish other than at feeding time. Talk softly to your hamster when feeding, clean the cage, and giving treats. This will help him get used to your voice and presence. Seeing and hearing you at feeding and treat times will build the hamsters trust in you.
Once your hamster will take treats from your hand you have a few tricks under your belt already. Any variation of "come" is simply a matter of holding the treat where you want the hamster to go. This can be used to get him started at moving through obstacles. Moving through a toilet paper or paper towel tube, climbing on top of a block, and even "jumping" trough hopes (plastic bangle bracelets work great for this) are all just variations of coming to take a treat out of your hand. Holding the treat above the hamsters head just a little will get your hamster to "beg".
The ideas for tricks you and your hamster can do are as limitless as your imagination.