My dwarf hybrid, HRH Princess Jane, has a hobby: licking! She loves licking my fingers - particularly when they are wet - to such an extent that especially when it is hot this is how I make sure she's drinking an adequate amount. She also licks her bowls, toys, and carrier.
Having had a look on Google at videos of dwarf hamsters being handled, it seems like a lot of them like to do this hand-licking thing (but not Syrians for some reason...or at least none of my Syrians ever have done), but sources seem to disagree as to why.
Some say it's because the animal is sodium deficient and is looking to get salt from sweat. (Though this doesn't explain why Jane at least also licks inanimate objects, although I do personally think that the carrier-licking is displacement activity, a bit like bar chewing....only bar licking).
Others say it's affection(?) which I find hard to believe, unless my hamster is having an identity crisis and thinks she's a dog(!) which I somehow doubt! Although I have seen videos of rats doing it and the general consensus in those cases seems to be that it is indeed a way of showing love. It's worth saying it's not just my hands she licks, but pretty much anyone's; her standard greeting when someone sticks a hand into her cage is to march over, grab hold of the finger tip with her fore paws, and lick, and lick, and lick, and lick.....and lick, and lick, and lick, until you pull your hand away, when she'll sit there looking bereft and irritated!
Can anyone here help shed light on this ? Oh and here are some photos of the lickiness, just because.....well, dwarf hamster TONGUES. Honestly does anything get any cuter?!
Proud owner of 2 chinchillas and a dwarf hamster
(chins for the win!)
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