Is a Hamster Bite Dangerous?

Hamsters are adorable, but some require patience until they adapt to human handling. Along the way, you may get a few bites.
Is a Hamster Bite Dangerous?
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 03 November, 2022

Getting bitten by a hamster is more common than you might think. Its solitary nature, together with its adorable appearance, gives rise to many mishandlings that frighten the animal, which ends up defending itself. But is a hamster bite dangerous?

When starting to socialize your hamster, it’s quite normal to get a bite or two along the way. It’s clear that they don’t cause major injuries, but are there any complications beyond that? This is what we’ll be talking about today, don’t miss it!

Why do hamsters bite?

Imagine that a giant has reached through the window of your house and tried to grab you. Imagine, furthermore, that you have poor eyesight, and everything is reduced to oversized blobs and strange smells as something grabs you and lifts you into the air. What would you do?

Probably the same as the hamster: fight and attack to try and get free. So, the main reason we sometimes get bitten by a hamster is that we are scaring it. However, there are other reasons to consider as well:

  • Hand odor: If your hands smell like food, for example, the hamster may bite you because it thinks you’re food.
  • It’s in its breeding season, and is more aggressive due to hormonal changes.
  • You picked it up when it was sleeping and startled it.
  • It’s still adapting to its environment and is stressed.
  • Improper handling by the human.

Is a hamster bite dangerous?

It’s true that it’s a very painful bite and that we humans have a certain tendency to worry about the wounds that small animals cause us. However, you have nothing to fear, as it won’t cause any serious injury.

So, no, a hamster bite is not dangerous to humans. It only startles and hurts, as it’s usually sudden and difficult to avoid if you have the rodent in your hands. If you want to know what to do in these cases, we’ll tell you in the following section.

My hamster has bitten me, what now?

There are several things to keep in mind on these occasions. We’re going to see what to do in case of a hamster bite, so keep reading.

If it bites you while you have it in your hands

If you have your hamster in your hands you may get a bite. In these cases, the reflex action is to shake your hand, but you should never do that, for the following reasons:

  • The animal, when shaken, will cling even more with its teeth to avoid falling off, so the pain will be even more intense.
  • If the hamster does fall it’ll probably get hurt, so don’t put its life in danger by a bite.

In these cases, you’ll have to endure the pain for a while and take it to its cage. If it hasn’t let go by then, try to reassure it until it realizes that it’s back in its shelter. It’ll be off to find a hiding place in no time.

Biting when you reach into the cage

The hamster may also decide to defend its home when you reach into it. This usually happens when socialization hasn’t finished and the animal still sees you as that giant stranger reaching through the window.

The steps to follow are the same as in the previous section: don’t shake your hand and try to reassure it until it lets go. However, the bite of a hamster defending its territory is usually quick before it hides again in its shelter, as its intention is to chase you away.

What to do after a hamster bite

Since the wounds produced by such a small rodent are never serious or deep. It’ll usually be enough just to disinfect them well and cover them with a dressing (sometimes you can just let them heal in the air too). However, depending on the origin of the animal, a visit to the doctor may be advisable.

Some diseases are contagious between these rodents and humans, such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis, tetanus, or tularemia. It would be extremely rare to contract one of these through a hamster bite, but in cases of street rescues or abandonment, for example, the likelihood increases. In any case, your doctor will know how to proceed with this risk.

And, finally, always remember that the hamster is more frightened than you are. It hasn’t chosen to be with you, nor to be born in a cage, nor to be abandoned if that is how it came into your hands. Socialization with these animals can be slow depending on the case, so the only valid method is to get them to understand that you aren’t a threat to their life. You’ll just need a little patience!

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