Why Do Hamsters Bite & How to Stop it?

hamster about to bite 1

There are many different reasons why hamsters bite.

It is important that you are aware of these possible explanations if you own one of these animals.

The more you know about the motivations behind your pet’s behavior, the easier it will be to care for them overall.

Reasons Hamsters Bite

The following is a list of various reasons that your hamster may lash out and bite you. Some of these reasons may be more likely than others, but it is important that you consider all of them.

1. They Mistake you for Food

One of the reasons that you might occasionally get nipped at by your hamster is because they mistake your hand for food. It is possible that they think you are a delicious treat if your hand smells like some sort of food.

It is always a good idea to wash your hands before reaching in to pick up your hamster. This way there is no danger of them thinking that your hand is anything except for, well, your hand. Hamsters have fairly powerful noses, so they are able to detect even the most subtle of scents.

2. They are Pregnant

A pregnant female hamster can get agitated just before it comes time to give birth. It is very important that you do not try to handle them if this is the case. These hamsters have a flood of hormones coursing through their system. You should give them the space and respect they deserve.

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3. You Startled Them

It’s also possible that your hamster bit you because you startled it. This is why it is never a good idea to reach into their cage too quickly when you go to handle them. These animals have defensive instincts like any other, and they will use their teeth when feeling threatened. 

This is also sometimes the case with people who try to pick up a hamster that is sleeping in their cage. You want to make sure they are awake and fully aware before going in to scoop them up.

hamster bite hand

4. You were trying to break up a fight

It is fairly common for people who try to break up a hamster fight to get bit. While this is usually an accident, it is something that you should be aware of nonetheless. Your hamster could end up nipping you without meaning to during all of the chaos.

How to Keep from Getting Bitten By Your Hamster

There are certain things you can do to decrease your chances of being bitten by your hamster that you want to be aware of.

1. Let them get to know you

It is crucial that you let your hamster become familiar with you before trying to handle them. Just sitting near the hamster’s cage can help with this. The more familiar your hamster becomes with your scent and the way your voice sounds, the less likely you are to get bit.

2. Start off Slow

When it comes to handling your hamster for the first few times, you will want to start off very slow. This means moving your hand very slowly into the cage and allowing them to climb on. You don’t want to make any quick or jerky movements.

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It shouldn’t take long before your hamster become comfortable and familiar with your hand and being held. A lot of people get bitten by their hamsters because they rushed into this instead of taking their time. The more patient you are with your rodent friend, the better you will get along with it overall.

3. Give it a Treat

If you want to encourage your hamster to get onto your hand, you can always try putting a piece of carrot or some other tasty food it. Lift the hamster out of the cage slowly while it is eating the food on the palm of your hand. Keep in mind that you don’t want to make a habit of doing this. You don’t want your hamster to associate your hand with food. This could actually increase your chances of being bitten by them.

hamster bite finger

4. Don’t Smell like Food

As we mentioned above, it is very important to wash your hands thoroughly before handling your hamster. This will greatly reduce your chances of being nibbled on, because you won’t smell like food to them.

If you keep picking up your hamster with your hands smelling like some delicious food, they will likely form an unhealthy association. Once this happens, it can be difficult to reverse it.

5. Stay Calm at all Times

Sometimes a person will get bitten by their hamster because they are acting erratically or aggressively while handling it. You will therefore want to make a point of staying calm at all times. This will go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t get bitten.

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You should also never hit or punish your hamster physically. This too can lead to getting bitten, so you need to keep that in mind. When you are trying to get your hamster to stop doing something, you should always take the positive reinforcement approach.


  • It is very common for people to get bitten by their pet hamster because their hand smells like food.
  • Always make sure that you wash your hands before reaching them in to pick up your pet hamster.
  • Hamsters that are pregnant tend to become agitated shortly before they give birth. You therefore shouldn’t try to handle your hamster too much if they are far along in their pregnancy.
  • A startled hamster might bite their owner just out of sheer instinct.
  • Always move your hand slowly and deliberately when going to pick up your hamster in its cage.
  • Stay calm and do not hit or get physical with your hamster at all.
  • Allow your hamster to become familiar with your voice and scent before attempting to handle them.
  • If your hamster is hesitant to let you hold them, try putting a treat out on your hand. You don’t want to do this too often, as they might start to associate your hand with food.