I often get asked if people should handle their new roborovski hamster and it made me wonder if there is somewhere on the internet that suggests you shouldn’t. Goodness me I shouldn’t have looked!!
So, to right this awfully bad misinformation let me educate you 🙂
I breed and show these delightful creatures and that means I handle them, a lot. They are just like any other species of hamster. They are handled from 2 weeks old, as soon as their eyes are starting to open, and then handled every day until they go to their new homes. The ones I keep for showing have to be handled regularly to get them used to life on the show bench, just like the syrians and the chinese.
Roborovskis are clowns….on rocket fuel. A slow robo is either old or sick. Even the tame ones that we have at the show or on display stands need to be handled over a box, just in case they decide to have a run. They are not pets for small children because they need to be handled by older children or adults so that they don’t get squeezed too hard.
The idea that there are robos out there that don’t get any handling at all because the internet says not to is very sad.
Roborovskis like to be handled, they like to sit on your hand and clean themselves…the ultimate sign of a calm hamster. The best way to handle them is to get a storage box, place some of their bedding in it and ‘juggle’ your robo hand over hand until they calm down. Most do after the intial 30 seconds of ‘lift off’ as soon as they realise you aren’t going to eat them this time.
Naturally, your roborovski will run from you when you first go into the cage but will soon calm down. Handle, handle, handle! That’s the key to having your robo then turn around and inspect your fingers for treats. They are not a cuddly species but that doesn’t mean you should allow them to become feral. All that happens is they live in constant low level stress from being too nervous. You aren’t doing them any favours.
Robos do not cope with stress very well and will squawk at you when they feel unable to handle life. Just keep letting them now that handling is normal, and fine and that you going into their cage is also not a problem. Do it on a routine and they will soon realise that there is nothing to be worried about.
My best advice is to choose a hamstery page, blog or website for information directly from people who breed the species rather than cutesy pages from people who maybe own one or two and then become self professed gurus on them. Sure, you can have robos from large chain pet stores that don’t like to be handled because they haven’t had any at all, or no positive handling, til they got to you but that is not a species characteristic just a sign of an inattentive breeder or a grumpy individual.
This is where going to a registered show breeder helps. An unhandleable hamster is disqualified from the show, especially if they bite (which robos rarely do) and are usually not then bred from.
I’m hoping to put some care articles/videos up soon to illustrate aspects of caring for these, and other species of hamsters as well as mice.