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I have a small robo dwarf hamster. He's getting older (maybe ~2 years old?) and I'm trying to figure out how to enjoy him instead of just cohabitating with him. He's a very cute little guy, but not super interactive.

To be more specific:

  • He will stand on my hand to grab food, but will not approach my hand without food. He leaves my hand immediately and is very tentative to come back if I try to pet him. He shows zero curiosity about me / my hand, and as soon as he pockets as much food as possible he leaves (and doesn't come back unless I have more food to offer after he hides the pocketed food).

  • I think I have followed all the guides for befriending him. He was much more nervous when I first adopted him (I'm his second owner). After a lot of speaking quietly, rewarding for going where my hand used to be, and patience, he now is at the current state.

  • Basically no progress has been made in months, despite occasional gentle attempts to pet him.

  • I've done the bathtub thing, of just sitting in a bathtub with him and some toys for a few hours. He will go the entire ~3 hours avoiding touching or inspecting me. It makes me sad to see him try but be unable to properly burrow, so I don't do this too often.

Basically, he's cute and will sit on my hand for ~2 minutes a day in exchange for a bribe, but overall I'm having trouble feeling connected to him because he's not at all interested. Hanging out with him is more like going to the zoo to see a creature than (what I think) owning a dog/cat/bird is like.

Possibly this is just his species/personality and therefore out of my control. But is there anything I am doing wrong, or any way I could better enjoy having him around?

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    Needs a bit of thinking but I saw the title and almost assumed you had this site confused with cooking...
    – Journeyman Geek
    May 6, 2023 at 1:45
  • Glad Allison made the edit then! I would prefer he stay alive.
    – Churro
    May 12, 2023 at 16:33

1 Answer 1

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Was reading Wikipedia about his specific hamster subspecies, and according to them:

Roborovski hamsters have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years, however, they are best suited to life as merely observational creatures, with limited interaction between them and humans, due to their increased activity levels that lead to a high stress predisposition and decreased ease of handling when compared to other domestic hamster species, but they can be tamed with time.

Probably the correct answer to my question is to stop expecting more than he is built for.

I think all my pre-hamster research was about the larger & friendlier hamsters. Little dude just wants to eat and run without me constantly trying to befriend him. Mea culpa!

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    If he's got "increased activity levels", have you tried playing with him instead of cuddling? If he were a dog I'd suggest teaching him tricks, but for a hamster it may be more appropriate to build little food puzzles or mazes. The first thing that comes to my mind is to hide some food in an empty toilet paper tube or wrapped in unprinted paper.
    – Elmy
    May 6, 2023 at 9:31
  • There are some really creative (beneath some really dangerous...) videos about hamsters overgoing obstacles and labyrinth-things to get their food. I am sure, this need to be done step by step so the hamster learns how to do the obstacles and they need to be save, but could be enjoyable for both of you to create them and work for food May 6, 2023 at 13:02
  • An example (I feel save with, i.e. the floors under obstacles are covered with something "soft" to fall in and the obstacles are turned by hand, so the owner can stop as soon as needed): youtu.be/HO4GaRK4NKo May 6, 2023 at 13:06
  • A whole uncracked walnut or hazelnut might also be a good 'toy' / food for you hamster. It will immediately smell that this is exciting food but it will take them quite a while to get it open.
    – quarague
    May 10, 2023 at 8:51
  • I usually bury or scatter his food so he has to work to find it, which is fun to watch. I love the idea of an uncracked nut — I've built little cardboard containers he had to tear open to get food before, and a whole walnut sounds even more fun. Mazes or obstacle courses sound fun! I'll see what I can make at my local makerspace
    – Churro
    May 12, 2023 at 16:37

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