In recent discussion on HamsterHideout.com the question was posed whether it was reasonable to assume that getting bit by a hamster was part of what comes with owning a hamster. It was of no surprise that most everyone agreed, myself included, that it is indeed part of what comes with sharing your life with a hamster. Short of leaving a hamster in it's cage 24/7 with no human interaction, you are in the position to be bitten at any time. Any animal with a mouth is capable of biting after all.
It certainly ties in with the idea that hamsters bite a lot more than other small animals. In one way I do agree, hamsters do tend to be quick to use their teeth if ill at ease. On the other hand I would say 99% of any and all bites I have received , have been given due to my own error. Whether I did not let a sleeping hamster lie, I surprised them, my hands smelled of food or a cage territorial hamster felt their home to be invaded. I have yet to have a hamster bite for no reason. Even nibbles are given for the reason of exploration and understanding, and they often do not hurt. Especially as hamsters are seen as a child's pet, the notion that they bite often is only encouraged as young children who do not understand how to respect an animal's personal space and are often handle the hamster more roughly than they should be get bitten and a negative reputation is built with blame placed upon the hamster.
Biting before a hamster has been socialized or 'tamed' is to be expected as you must work diligently to earn your hamster's trust so that they understand that you are a friend and not an enemy. A taming guide can be found here: Dashing Hamster's Taming Guide.
Learning to read a hamster's body language for signs of distress, can go a long way to avoiding a hamster bite and in doing so you will not cross their threshold for stress, making them feel better about you. Not invading their space if they feel protective over it, food dishes or hoards as well as nests seem to be a sensitive spot for some hamster as an example; washing your hands with non-scented soap to get rid of interesting smells that may be mistaken for actual food or even a threat; letting your presence be known before touching your hamster such as talking to them or rustling some bedding and picking them up from where they can see your hands coming; not waking them and just overall respecting them and their space can definitely reduce the risk for bites. I used to consider hamster bites a regular part of keeping them, but as I have learned to read them better I have gotten bitten less and less over the years. Most importantly do not take the bites personally, your hamster isn't after all so why should you? The meaning behind each bite is situational and dependent upon the hamster, biting does not mean that they "hate" you though. Frequent biting experienced while a hamster is in their home may be linked to cage aggression, which is discussed in depth here: Cage Aggression.
So while biting can be made less likely getting bitten is always a possibility. Whether they will be quick to use their teeth in an attempt to solve their issues or if they will prefer to take things in a more mellow manner will depend upon the individual hamster. They have teeth and therefore they can bite and so it should be assumed that bites can happen, this does not mean that they will happen though. Basically be prepared. Despite it all, the bites are not as frequent as some make it out to be and with some thought into your actions around your hamster there is no reason why you cannot enjoy each other's company.
Welcome to Dashing Hamsters. I created this website back in 2005, initially to have a place to share my love of hamsters. Throughout the years I have come across a lot of information that just often doesn't match up. Care standards and information are outdated, and these little creatures are misunderstood by many. So I decided to make this website as more than just a hamster lover's website, but a hamster website for modern owners who are looking for up to date advice on how to care for and understand their beloved hamsters. On DH you can learn about hamsters, see some cute pictures and read through a hamster filled blog.