Before You Start
Before we discuss tricks to teach your hamster, here are some basic facts you need to consider. Buy a hamster that is 4-7 weeks of age. That way they can start learning tricks young. Hamsters live to around 3-4 years old.
When you first get your hamster let him have some quiet time learning to familiarize himself with his surroundings, ie: his hamster cage. When he’s had some time you can gently handle him. Talk to him, cuddle him, but rather than holding him for hours, just have some short bursts of holding him until he gets to know you.
Be sure that you wash your hands before you handle him because any hint of food on your hands and he could bite you.
Foods To Use When Teaching Tricks
The fastest way to get your hamster to do what you want is to use food as treats. The more you get to know your hamster the more you will learn what his favourite treats are.
Hamsters love seeds and often a particular favorite is sunflower seeds. You can also use unsalted peanuts and pumpkin seeds. Hamsters will often love the seed out of your hand rather than the seed out of it’s bowl.
They also like fruit and vegetables and some cereal grains. Do not feed your hamster, sweets and candy, meat, chips and human food that is processed as it can be dangerous.
Your pet store may sell packaged prepared hamster food.
If you have a shy or nervous hamster you can start off by putting a treat in your hand, even in the cage and letting him come up to your hand to get it. If that’s too much then place it by your hand. When he progresses in confidence you can lay food on you, like tucking a peanut in your shirt collar or lie down and tuck a piece of apple under you and let your hamster run over you to find it.
Eventually you can hold a seed above his head and get him to sit up and reach for it, rewarding him with the seed and perhaps a pat saying “Good boy.”
Ideally you want to be able to take away the treats and the reward is being patted or spoken to in an encouraging fashion.
You can also get him to “come” by holding the treat where you want him to run to.
Other tricks you can do is get the cardboard tube out of paper towels and let him run to the other end. Or when he’s lying down you can put the treat behind his back saying “roll over” and eventually he will roll over to get it.
With patience you can have hours of fun with tricks to teach your hamster.