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I got a djungarian dwarf hamster roughly 4 weeks ago. She is roughly 12 weeks old now. She doesn't seem scared at all, and comes out of her house to check me out when I open the cage up. However, she almost aggressively checks for food in my hand when I put it in the cage, and even starts biting into it to see if there is something edible. The cage is of appropriate size, and she seems otherwise active. The biting is of different strength, sometimes only nibbling, sometimes biting hard, but it does not seem like she is biting out of aggression or fear--when she finds the food in my hand, she will eat it directly in my hand peacefully, but will then promptly proceed to bite into my hand to find more food.

She is getting appropriate amounts of food (roughly one tablespoon of dry food mix specifically made for dwarf hamsters, with the occasional vegetable or seed treats) and I've tried increasing the quantity to see if this behavior changes, but it does not seem to--she even leaves some in the bowl if I do this, and shows the same behavior. I've tried unscented soap and even gloves, but she will just try biting into the gloves instead. If I hold a toy that's usually inside her cage, she will also try biting into this.

Is there any way I can teach her to not bite into my hand or skin, and get less eager about her food when my hand enters the cage?

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Your hamster, somehow, might have associated your hand with food. Animals in general are known to make stupid (or more appropriately unintended) associations. If you assumed that she is hungry when she bites and give more food, she might keep biting you in hopes that you will give even more.

Another issue is that hamsters are hoarders. You don't really give hamsters daily food, you give them plenty of food and allow them to store it however they see fit. There is little you can do about overeating with hamsters, other than giving them plenty of opportunity to exercise.

The only exception to being given in abundance is fresh food. Fresh vegetables, egg yolks and cooked unseasoned meat can be given in moderation but they might rot if the hamster decides to store them as well. You should give such food items as well, but you also need to remove these items from hamster's stash when they go bad.

So, the best way for you to proceed is to offer her plenty of dried food.

As a side note, I do not usually trust the commercial hamster foods. Many items are dried, coloured and pressed items. You can easily have a mix of your own, which includes several types of grain, corn, seeds, raw nuts with occasional small pieces of wholewheat bread. Do not give your hamster salted or roasted nuts.

I hope this helps.

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