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why do hamsters lick their owners?
Questions And Answers

Why Do Hamsters Lick Your Hands?

Last Updated on: 25th September 2023, 11:23 am

Have you ever held your hamster in your hands and suddenly felt the soft, wet sensation of the tongue?

No, it’s not your imagination – your hamster is giving your hand a lick. Why do they do it? Are they grooming you as part of their horde, or have they mistaken you for a flavorful snack?

We’ll embark on a fascinating journey into hamster behavior to decipher why these adorable creatures often engage in this intriguing, often misunderstood habit.

Why Do Hamsters Lick Their Owners?

Hamsters’ interactions with humans can often influence their behaviors, such as licking.

Licking isn’t just a random act. It’s an exploration tool they use to understand the world around them through taste and smell.

If your hands carry intriguing smells or traces of food, don’t be surprised if you find a hamster giving it a lick out of sheer curiosity.

In some instances, excessive licking could indicate a health condition, so we need to know the difference.

Here are the most common reasons why hamsters lick humans:

what does it mean when hamster licks you?

Sign of Affection

Licking is a behavior hamsters often use to express affection toward owners. When your pet licks you, it’s usually a sign that it feels comfortable and happy to be around you.

This action can also occur when the animal seeks attention or attempts to communicate something.

We must pay attention to other signs accompanying hamster licking, like relaxed body posture or soft purring sounds, which are additional signs of contentment.

Grooming

Hamsters are constantly licking their fur and using sand baths to stay clean. They’re small prey animals that stay clean, so predatory animals can’t detect their scent.

A hamster that licks may be grooming you, just as it would itself or another hamster it likes.

Different Tastes

A hamster may see your hand as an edible buffet with exciting smells and flavors to sample. It could be its way of exploring these interesting flavors when it licks you.

The salts or oils may taste intriguing, whether the sweat on your skin or the leftovers of the most recent thing you’ve eaten for lunch.

If you’ve handled food recently, especially something flavorful, the lingering scent and odor can make your hands irresistible to a curious hamster. 

​Mineral Deficiency

Excessive licking may signify a mineral deficiency. A small quantity of salt (sodium) is needed for nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and fluid balance.

A need for minerals in human sweat, like salt, could cause a hamster to lick you. If you notice changes to a hamster’s behavior, including excessive licking, add a salt lick for 2-3 days per week.

Don’t leave the salt lick in the cage all week because excessive sodium damages the kidneys.

Is It Safe for Hamsters To Lick You?

Hamsters are mammals from the order Rodentia, which may carry diseases like leptospirosis, hantavirus, and rat-bite fever.

Although hamsters are rodents like mice and rats, it’s usually safe for hamsters to lick you. For a hamster to spread disease, it would have to be infected by another animal.

This is unlikely to happen as pet hamsters live in captivity, often alone in their cage.

Establishing Boundaries

In most cases, licking is often an endearing gesture, even if it sometimes confuses us.

Sometimes, licking can become excessive. In these instances, it’s crucial to establish boundaries with a hamster without causing them to grow afraid of you.

Cleanliness plays a vital role in managing this habit. Ensuring your hands are free from food residue before handling could decrease its urge to lick you incessantly.

If maintaining clean hands doesn’t curb the behavior, consider applying a safe deterrent on areas they frequently target for licks. A product akin to Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray could help.

Establishing new habits requires consistency and patience, but persistence is essential. It’ll make interactions more enjoyable for you and the hamster.

Vet Assistance

A sudden shift in a hamster’s demeanor should never go unnoticed. If a hamster’s licking behavior becomes more frequent, it may need medical assistance.

Veterinarians specializing in small animals can offer invaluable insights into health concerns triggering this unusual conduct, including nutritional deficiencies.

Why does my hamster nibble my fingers?

FAQs

Why do hamsters lick your hands?

Hamsters may lick your hand due to the taste of salt on the skin or as a sign of affection and bonding.

Why does my hamster nibble my fingers?

A hamster might be nibbling your fingers out of curiosity, tasting residual food particles, or simply getting to know you and where you’ve been better.

Why does my dwarf hamster keep licking?

Persistent hamster licking could indicate that it enjoys the flavor. Consult a vet if licking is excessive and accompanied by unusual behaviors because it could have a nutritional deficiency.

Why does my hamster lick me, then bite me?

If a hamster licks you, it may taste something you’ve recently eaten. Since hamsters have poor vision, they may mistakenly believe your hand or finger is food, hence the subsequent bite.

Can hamsters cuddle with you?

Hamsters are fearful animals. However, they often become very comfortable with human interaction over time. They enjoy warmth and gentle handling, which sometimes leads to cuddling sessions.

Conclusion

Hamsters lick your hands for various reasons, so understanding why is critical to fostering a healthy bond.

This interaction can be an expression of affection or simply due to the taste preferences they’ve developed over time. Social interactions also play a significant role in this licking habit.

Don’t dismiss this behavior as inconsequential because excessive licking could signify a nutritional deficiency, especially if the hamster is feeling unwell in another way. 

Establishing boundaries is also crucial, especially if excessive hamster licking becomes obtrusive.