How is a new hamster behaving?
It is typical for a new hamster to eat and drink very little or nothing at all for the first few days after being purchased. Additionally, it is likely to hide until it is certain that you are not there and won’t play with its toys until a few days have passed. Additionally, if it stays awake the entire time, it may investigate its cage, climb the bars, and dig its first burrows.
Why do new hamsters act this way?
When you look at the situation more closely, you will see that the new hamster is probably anxious and afflicted with metathesiophobia as a result of a number of factors, including:
- The recent separation of your hamster from his family, including his brothers, sisters, and littermates.
- It’s the most stressful day of your hamster’s life because it’s spending the first time alone.
- Remember that he is prey and cannot escape despite the stress of the journey, the unfamiliar sounds and smells, and more!
- Because you could pose a threat, he is unsure if he is safe and doesn’t trust you just yet.
- He doesn’t know if this strangely smelling new area (his cage) doesn’t belong to a larger hamster who will attack him when he returns from picking!
If he hears noise, sees light, or senses that you are nearby, he won’t risk his life by leaving his nest to get food or drink.
Since he might not even know what his wheel is and it will take him some time to figure it out, he probably won’t play with it.
So when you first bring your hamster home, it’s normal if it spends the first two, three, or even first week hiding in a burrow, a tunnel, or its nest.
Should I be concerned if my new hamster does not eat during the first few days?
Don’t worry; your hamster has likely returned with its cheeks stuffed with food, particularly seeds.
Concerning water, you shouldn’t be concerned because hamsters can go up to 4 days without eating or drinking when they sense great danger.
Additionally, you can be sure that when your hamster is truly hungry or thirsty, he will wait until he is certain that you have gone to bed before running outside to drink water, eat seeds, and then return quickly to his nest.
During the first few days, he will behave in this manner; he will spend the majority of his time sleeping and only leave his nest when he cannot hear you. He will also be extremely cautious and fearful.
He will nimbly run to his water bowl and take a few gulps before moving on to his dry food to fill his cheeks before going to empty them in his nest. He will repeat this process until the bowl of seeds is empty.
He won’t have to risk going outside his burrow to get food as a result.
How long will the new hamsters continue to avoid people?
Depending on your hamster’s origin, personality, age, level of taming, health, and whether or not it will make installation and adaptation easier, this situation could last one to three weeks.
How to help your new hamster to adapt quickly to its new environment (its new cage)?
My first piece of advice is to go get some bedding from his previous cage, bring some natural tissue paper with you, soak it in the scents of the previous cage, and put it all in the new cage.
You must then give your hamster enough time to finally understand on his own that first of all, he is not only safe in his nest, hideouts and burrows, but also in his cage.
- You will actually help him to understand this by opening the cage door only once in the middle of the day, when your hamster is sleeping, give him his food and water ration and close the door quickly and quietly and move away from the cage.
- For the first two to three weeks, only clean the cage if your hamster spills water or if the litter box really stinks and needs to be changed right away.
Leave the first thorough cleaning for at least two months, and remember to replace at least a third of the hamster’s old litter after the cleaning to maintain the hamster’s scent and prevent further stressing it.
- During the first few days, make sure that you are the only one to interact with your hamster.
A room where you have installed his cage should not have too many people or noise.
The ideal room temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so you should be aware of that.
- Keep the lights off in your hamster’s room at night unless it’s an emergency to help it adjust to its new home quickly.
- Remember that they are nocturnal pets and try to avoid going into his room if you hear him in the middle of the night for the first two or three days. If he sleeps with you, do not turn on the light either.
- Start the taming process during the first week, if your hamster doesn’t flee when he sees you, by avoiding sudden movements, staying away from his cage, and talking softly to him while perched on a chain.
- Your hamster shouldn’t see your dog or cat until you’ve finished training them; otherwise, the process of acclimating them to their new environment will take several weeks longer. Instead, introduce your cat to their room over the course of the first few days.
- Especially if you just finished playing with your cat, dog, or other hamster, wash your hands thoroughly before putting them in the cage of your new hamster!
- Give your new hamster at least two hiding places so it feels secure inside, as well as chew toys and some willow sticks so it can unwind while chewing.
- While you make a new mix and better food, ask your vendor for some of your hamster’s regular food.
- Purchase some meal worms as well. If your hamster loses weight due to a few stressful days, they will help him gain it.
How can I tell if my new hamster has actually gotten used to his new cage?
If all goes well, after 10 to 15 days, your hamster will start to appropriate places and objects, even in broad daylight when it happens to wake up. It will claim its new home:
- He will deposit his smell on all the elements of the cage thanks to his glands or by licking his hairs and then rubbing himself against the objects like on the toys, the grids of his cage, the wheel, the hideouts, the sandbox,…
- He will choose a corner or two to pee and do his business.
- He will dig burrows.
- He will start to eat on the spot whereas before he was content to bring his food and eat it in his nest.
- He will drink more water than before.
- He will start to be interested in you, what you do and come out to look at you every time you enter the room and make noise or open the door of his cage.
- He will behave like the owner of the place and will even be able to make small naps outside his nest, just in a corner of the cage, sign that he is in confidence and that he is not afraid of you anymore!
How long should I worry if my new hamster continues to avoid me and hide in its nest?
If your hamster’s behavior is still the same after three weeks, you should check these few things:
- Is he still scared because of your behavior or something else?
Read the list above and check if you are OK with all the points.
- If not, you’ll need to check that he’s not showing any symptoms of possible health problems.
It’s possible that your hamster’s illness is what stresses him out and affects how he behaves.
How will you check the health of your new hamster?
You won’t remove your hamster from its nest to examine it; instead, use your observational skills to look for signs of a possible illness.
You will manage to stay up late into the night and watch for your hamster to come out, if you can install the red light in his room that would be better.
You will check three things in your hamster:
- During these outings, check that your hamster has not lost weight!
A healthy hamster is simply a hairball with four legs, but if it is losing weight, you’ll notice that it has a slimmer face, neck, and even a slimmer body with a more pronounced spine along the back.
- Try to see if his nose, eyes and ears are dry.
- This one is the easiest to check, it’s his droppings, the poop!
They should be dry, brownish black, like little black pellets.
It would be a bad sign if these droppings are round or soft or completely liquid, sign of diarrhea!
The wet tail is also when the tail area is wet.
So if you notice any of these symptoms in your hamster, capture him gently with a cup or directly with his travel crate and take him to his vet.
If not, know that it is probably due to your behavior or the surrounding smells or sounds that will require more time for your hamster to adapt to its new habitat and to you, your family and your other pets.
So just be a little more patient!
Other likely behaviors of new hamsters
In contrast to the most typical scenario, a new hamster may also be more self-assured, awake the longest during its first few days, and spend all of its time exploring its cage, playing with the wheel if it has already been weaned, and digging burrows to ease its stress and transport its food into its nest.
When you buy a new hamster, be prepared for him to be a little stressed out, hide from you, and possibly go two or three days without eating or drinking.
He will also take his time, examining you, the sounds, the smells, and his surroundings to ensure that there is no danger to him.
A week or less is all it takes for some hamsters to become interested in humans, while it may take two or three weeks for others to lose their fear.
Please be patient and follow my instructions to ensure that your hamster is content in its new home.
Allow your new hamster to develop its true personality for a month or two so that you can get to know it better, tame it, and predict its behavior.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
Waiting for our next post here.