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We all love to be around our hamster friends but we always need to make sure that our hamsters are happy to be around us when we are playing with them. Many people ask “how do you play with a hamster”. This guide will be telling you how to play with your hamster, the best ways to play with your hamster and how often you should be playing with your hamster.

When should I be playing with my hamster?

You should always make sure that you are playing with your hamster during their active methods. This is during the evening and night times as hamsters, despite what some say, are nocturnal and therefore will more than likely be sleeping during the day. Waking up your hamster during the day will stress your hamster out and make them more likely to bite or squeak at you.

Only play with your hamster if they are active in the cage, don’t put your hands into the hamster bed to try to pick them up as this can also stress them out. A hamster’s bed is its safe place and therefore it is important that a hamster is allowed to be there without you touching them.

Making sure your hamster is having fun in their cage is just as important as ensuring they are having fun outside! Make sure to read our hamster wheels guide!

How to handle your hamster

The methods to playing and giving attention to your hamster differs depending on your breed. Some hamsters are more willing to receive attention whilst others are more solitary and therefore need a lot more space.

Handling a Syrian Hamster

Syrian hamsters are seen as the easiest breed of hamster to tame and play with. However, this doesn’t mean that they can just be picked up. Here’s the guide on how to handle your Syrian.

Getting ready to handle your Syrian Hamster

Before handling a Syrian hamster you need to make sure that they are able to get used to their surroundings first. Give them a day or two in their cage (you can still watch them) before you attempt to touch them. Talk to your hamster whilst they are getting used to their own cage, this will help them get used to your voice.

If you have another pet, wash your hands to remove the scent. This will help your hamster understand that it isn’t a predator attacking them but a new and friendly face. This will also help them to get used to your scent which is extremely important if you wish to bond with your Syrian Hamster.

Handling your Syrian Hamster for the first time

Slowly scoop up your hamster with both hands. Your Syrian hamster might be fearful of you first so don’t be offended if they run away. Let your hamster jump on and off your hands until they feel comfortable but don’t progress further than this as going too fast can scare your pet. After a few days, lift them out and face them towards you. Try to hold them close as this will reduce their anxiety and also protect them from jumping.

After you have done this for a few days, it’s time to introduce yourself to your hamster in a closer fashion. One of the best ways to introduce yourself to a new Syrian hamster is to place both you and the Syrian Hamster into an empty bathtub. This will give them a chance to climb onto you and understand that you are not a threat to them. It also means that they are completely safe as there is no chance of them escaping (although they will try!).

After this, your Syrian should feel a lot more comfortable around you. Don’t take this for granted though, make sure to always hold your hamster daily so they don’t forget your scent.

Handling a dwarf hamster

Syrian and dwarf hamsters both have differences about how you should approach them. Dwarf hamster play needs to be a lot more careful due to the size of dwarf hamsters.

Getting ready to handle your Dwarf Hamster

Dwarf hamsters (Russian Dwarf, Winter White, Roborovski) are more skittish than Syrian hamsters and therefore they need to be treated with a lot more care. Give them more time to get used to their cage as the more comfortable they are, the easier they will be to tame. Talk to them whilst they are in their cage as hamster’s often rely on their hearing to distinguish people. Use a quiet and gentle voice.

Handling your Dwarf Hamster for the first time

Wash your hands to remove any scents and then lower your hands into the cage. Let your hamster walk onto your hand and let them get used to it. Consider putting treats on your hand to encourage them. After lifting them up, let them crawl on you. You can do this in an empty bathtub, as explained above. Don’t put your hand in the cage if you are dealing with a Russian Dwarf Hamster, these are harder to tame. Try instead to build more trust with them and take them out in a box before trying to tame them.

Make sure you hold your dwarf hamster for a few times a day to make them used to you. Be very careful as dwarf hamsters are small and nimble and can quickly jump and get lost if you startle them.

Considering putting your hamster in a ball? You may want to think again. Check out our guide on hamster balls and their alternatives

How to play with your hamster

When you have gotten your hamster used to you; you can start to play and have fun with them. Remember that hamsters are not just there for our entertainment and only play with them in ways that respect their health.

Set up a playpen!

Consider setting up a playpen, this can give the hamster a new space to run around. You can place your hamster’s toys into the playpen and watch them as they run around. We give great tips on how to set up a playpen here.

Let them walk over you

Just letting your hamster walk over you can entertain them and it will help them get used to your scent! Let your hamster run through your hand and let them sit on your shoulder. Always make sure to supervise them during this!

Create an obstacle course

You can make your own maze using toilet paper rolls, boxes or LEGO. You can also buy a maze from online supermarkets such as Amazon. Make sure you supervise your hamster whilst they are inside the obstacle course as they can climb over the walls! Put treats at certain parts to give your hamster a challenge.


So, how do you play with a hamster? The number one rule is making sure that they stay safe! Playing and having fun with your hamster is an important part of having a pet. We hope that we have helped you with finding out more on how to achieve this. Remember that your hamster is a living being just like you and therefore you must always treat them with respect!