How to tame hard-to-tame robo hamsters?

Aquariumlover1357

Member
Hi guys!

So about a week ago I rescued two robo hamsters who aren't completely tame. Here's the link to the thread about them (I had a question about getting a dust bath, so that's why it's not called getting my robos or something.

Getting My Robos

I'm keeping them in a 50 gallon tank, which I know isn't the best, and will connect it to a 34 gallon as soon as the IKEA near me has them in stock again. They have two wheels, food bowls, two of every toy, and two of each hidey. Thing is, they're not at all tame to humans. They never bite, even when super stressed/scared, but tend to... scramble away at their first scent of humans. On the first couple of days, they would see my shadow approaching their cage, and scatter into their bedding/hides. I've gained their trust enough that they will come up to my hand if I don't move a hair, smell me, confirm I'm not food, and immediatly run back to their shoebox (a safe place that I put that I never disturb for untame hamsters so they'll have a safe place to sleep and feel secure).

Thing is, they are scared to the point where they will stop at nothing to get away from a human hand if I try to make them go on my hand. On the day I got them, the owner was showing me how she picks them up (not much more luck than me). She's already given up on them coming to her hand, so she kind of scoops them up, as you would normally with a tame hamster. Here's where it gets bad. The hamster would scratch at all the surroundings around it (wall of the bin he's pressed against, bedding, toy) and kind of jump off of it. They will literally do anything to get out of this situation, including trying to decapitate themselves squeezing in holes in decor not meant for them. From then, once they jump back in the cage, you can pretty much hope to dig in the bedding and try to find a slight trace of them.

This doesn't happen with any of their other littermates or mother hamster. They are still a little untame, but won't try to fall to their death when picked up, and kind of calms down once they're in your hands. I have tamed my past pet store hamster before, and he's now a lazy fat sweetheart, and he only took about 2 weeks of biting/scrambling/angry chirping, and many treats, to calm down. The catch to this is, my hamster was only about 4 weeks old when I got him, and these two boys are now half a year old....

They are way too fast for me to handle comfortably, and I know that this species is an observation-only-usually species, but I really had a lot of hope that they could possibly be tamed. Should I still try, and is there a method in which I should be using for this species/these guys specifically? (other than the I'm-not-a-threat and patience method, which I'm currently trying out?) Thank you guys so much, and any help is appreciated!
 

RayClem

Member
Typically, mammals and birds for that matter can be tamed if they have close human contact early in their life. A cat who has that contact will become tame and a great pet; one who does not have that contact may become feral. The same thing happens with hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are adorable, but if they are not tamed early in life, it is going to take a lot of patience to earn their trust. After all, you are a much larger animal that they see as a predator. Just because you had to rescue them tells me that their early life was not ideal. They will have to overcome that previous experience.

I have a 14 year old cat who came from a rescue when she was a several months old. it took us about 10 years to gain her trust. Even now, she won't let us pick her up or hold her in our laps. I have another who was born as a stray, but we rescued her at only a few weeks of age. She escaped when animal control came to capture her mother and siblings. She ended up at our house and we took her in. There is nothing she likes better than being held as it makes her feel safe. Two different backgrounds, two different outcomes.
 

wishuponafish

Member
My robo is the exact same way, when I first got him I tried to catch him and he freaked out so much he squeezed through the bars of his cage and got his head stuck.
Since then, I've been leaving him alone for the most part and now instead of running and hiding when I get within 10 feet of him, he makes a dash for the door when I open it to feed him to try and escape (which is progress I guess?) but still won't let me touch him.
 
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Aquariumlover1357

Member
Aww. Thank you guys! I guess I'll just keep trying to make them trust me. Even if they aren't tame, I'll just be happy knowing that they have at least each other to keep company, and they are so fun to watch! They sit on their wheel together, and sometimes one runs while the other kind of rides, and sometimes the other way around. Thanks again
 

RayClem

Member
Aquariumlover1357 said:
Aww. Thank you guys! I guess I'll just keep trying to make them trust me. Even if they aren't tame, I'll just be happy knowing that they have at least each other to keep company, and they are so fun to watch! They sit on their wheel together, and sometimes one runs while the other kind of rides, and sometimes the other way around. Thanks again
Just be patient. Hang around their enclosure so they can see you and smell you. Do not try to grab them, just place your hand near them with the back of your hand towards them as you might try to introduce yourself to a strange dog. Eventually, they may approach you and allow you to stroke their sides or head. Just be gentle and patient. You efforts may be rewarded.
 
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Aquariumlover1357

Member
Yes. I understand. It might seem weird, but I hang around their cage a few minutes a day, and just kind of talk to them, even if they're nowhere to be found so that they get used to my voice, I guess? I haven't tried to hold them ever since they arrived and I had to put them in their cage. Yesterday I had a piece of broccoli in my hand, and I kind of kept an open and flat hand.

They were cuddled together on their wheel, staring at me, and one hamster came cautiously, smelled my hand, and immediately ran and hid. Then I kind of dropped a piece of it in front of the other hamster, and he came and took it, and ate it on the spot without hiding (progress!), and I kind of nudged my hand closer as he chewed. After he was done, he smelled the trail of broccoli, and came towards my hand, but as soon and he smelled me, he ran and hid. At least he tried... Haha I actually have a lot of hope for taming these two tinies.
 

RayClem

Member
Aquariumlover1357 said:
Yes. I understand. It might seem weird, but I hang around their cage a few minutes a day, and just kind of talk to them, even if they're nowhere to be found so that they get used to my voice, I guess? I haven't tried to hold them ever since they arrived and I had to put them in their cage. Yesterday I had a piece of broccoli in my hand, and I kind of kept an open and flat hand.

They were cuddled together on their wheel, staring at me, and one hamster came cautiously, smelled my hand, and immediately ran and hid. Then I kind of dropped a piece of it in front of the other hamster, and he came and took it, and ate it on the spot without hiding (progress!), and I kind of nudged my hand closer as he chewed. After he was done, he smelled the trail of broccoli, and came towards my hand, but as soon and he smelled me, he ran and hid. At least he tried... Haha I actually have a lot of hope for taming these two tinies.
It is a good start.
 

Robinn

Member
Hello, owner of a tame robo here!

One of the best ways you can gain your robos' trust is to never go after them except for medical purposes. Always make sure your hamster has the option to come to you or not. A treat or two is nice in encouraging them to check you out. It'll probably take them a while to realize you mean no harm, but once that piece is solid you'll have happy robos begging for attention (ie treats)!

I'd also like to note 1 week is very early in terms of the taming process. Heck, a lot of owners don't even interact with their hamsters during the first period just to give them time to settle in. For most hamsters, becoming fully tame will take at least a month.

And, as a side, generally speaking, it's very dangerous to keep hamsters in pairs, especially new owners (which you appear to be?). While dwarf hamsters can be kept together, it's pretty rare for it to work out in the long run. I wouldn't separate them until they start to grow apart as separating without reason can cause some mental stress, but just keep a spare cage and a sizable vet fund on hand just in case. has a ton of helpful information on dwarf behavior and pair ownership.
This also means it would be very risky to attach two cages together since, usually, the hamsters will fight over the tube connecting them. It would be best to get a cage with more undivided floorspace if you want to upgrade (which I would strongly recommend for a pair). Ikea also makes the Detolf glass cabinet, which, while not the best cage, is pretty big for the price and a decent option if you're in the States.

If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask! Hamster Hideout is also a pretty great forum if you want some further opinions.
 
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Aquariumlover1357

Member
Robinn said:
Hello, owner of a tame robo here!

One of the best ways you can gain your robos' trust is to never go after them except for medical purposes. Always make sure your hamster has the option to come to you or not. A treat or two is nice in encouraging them to check you out. It'll probably take them a while to realize you mean no harm, but once that piece is solid you'll have happy robos begging for attention (ie treats)!

I'd also like to note 1 week is very early in terms of the taming process. Heck, a lot of owners don't even interact with their hamsters during the first period just to give them time to settle in. For most hamsters, becoming fully tame will take at least a month.

And, as a side, generally speaking, it's very dangerous to keep hamsters in pairs, especially new owners (which you appear to be?). While dwarf hamsters can be kept together, it's pretty rare for it to work out in the long run. I wouldn't separate them until they start to grow apart as separating without reason can cause some mental stress, but just keep a spare cage and a sizable vet fund on hand just in case. has a ton of helpful information on dwarf behavior and pair ownership.
This also means it would be very risky to attach two cages together since, usually, the hamsters will fight over the tube connecting them. It would be best to get a cage with more undivided floorspace if you want to upgrade (which I would strongly recommend for a pair). Ikea also makes the Detolf glass cabinet, which, while not the best cage, is pretty big for the price and a decent option if you're in the States.

If you have any further questions don't hesitate to ask! Hamster Hideout is also a pretty great forum if you want some further opinions.
Yes. I understand, and would never grab hamsters unless they willingly come into my hand. I haven't handled my robos since they arrived. The thing about this pair, is that they were with two other hamsters in a divided 50 gallon tank (I actually think the exact one that I have). In the beginning, they were a quartet of hamsters, but fighting broke out in their first couple of months, so the owner divided the tank. (Which is partially why I had to rescue them).

Now, they're 6 months old, and I've heard that once past 2-3 months, chances of fighting are lower than the first two. But just in case, I do have an old hamster cage that I could temporarily use. I'll definitely keep an eye out for fighting. As for the cage, I'm not so sure I want to attempt the Detolf. I've already bought the 50 gallon one for about $30 (it's a bin), and I'm not sure if I could afford a $70 cabinet, particularly one that is glass (I know this would be cheaper than something like a 75 gallon tank, but I'm not sure I can buy it).

As for experience, I am not a very experienced hamster owner, but I currently have a 2 year old russian dwarf hamster in an Ikea 34-gallon Samla bin. He was super easy to tame, since he was only a bitey hamster (gentle blowing every time he bites down), and not really scared of humans. But for these guys, it's kind of the opposite, which is partially the reason this freaks me out a lot more.

Over last summer, I also rescued a winter white russian mix (coloring is lighter than russian dwarf but had the stripe and white belly). He was being kept in one of these petstore cages, but only about 5 gallons, with about a 3 inch wheel (his owner abandoned him on the side of a building, and locals have been saying he's been there at least 2 months). He was also super scared of humans, but he wasn't fast-moving, and I tamed him within a couple of weeks. (He was at friend's who adopted him until he passed away. Not sure how old he was, but probably over a year)

Thanks for your opinion! I know that this stuff takes time, and I probably won't even try to handle them until they get to the stage of tameness my current hamster is in (climbs into hand, sits in my lap, licks me a lot, which I'm not sure is good or not). The reason I'm not very comfortable with taming those guys is that they're so fast! I'm not even sure I can catch up if they were on the ground scampering...
 
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Aquariumlover1357

Member
Update: Okay, I know this is super soon, but I've been holding treats up to their favorite hide aka the shoebox,'s entrance, and they've always been smelling it, then finding out I'm a human and running away. This time, instead of running away, one hamster actually took the piece of vegetable from my fingers. Progress
 

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