The early days
Let your hamster settle in during the first few days after you bring him home and don't try to pick him up. Once his new home is familiar and smells of his scent he will feel more comfortable about getting to know you. Hamsters are long-sighted they can see predators coming from a distance, but can't see things close up. They have a strong sense of smell and very sensitive hearing, which allow them to distinguish things nearby rather than by sight alone. It's important that you wash your hands before feeding or handling your hamster so that you get rid of any unfamiliar smells and let him get used to your own smell.
Taming your hamster
Once your hamster has been home for a few days, sit near his habitat and talk to him so that he gets used to your voice and let him smell your fingers. Because he can't see you clearly close up, you must move slowly and gently or you will scare him. Offer tidbits until he begins to see your hand as a friendly provider of treats.
Picking up your hamster
Make sure that your hamster has gotten to know you and isn't scared of you before you try to pick him up. If he shrieks and goes onto his back when you put your hand near him, he still sees you as a predator and is terrified. When you pick up your hamster, always use both hands. Wrap your fingers from one hand gently under his tummy and put the other hand behind his bottom. Don't squeeze your hamster or you will injure or even kill him. You must hold him carefully though as hamsters have very loose skin and can easily wriggle out of your hands.
Hamsters don't understand heights so never hold your hamster at a height above the ground, in case he jumps out of your hands, or leave him on a tabletop in case he walks off the edge. Don't let him climb on things outside his home either - he will enjoy climbing up, but will not be able to climb down and is likely to fall off. Even a fall of one meter can cause serious injury.
Nervous hamsters and owners
If you're nervous about picking up your hamster, or need to catch one that's too timid to handle, you can take advantage of the fact that hamsters love to explore new holes. Hold an empty can or jar in front of your hamster and he will tend to scurry in. Even if he only pokes his head in, you can gently push the rest of him in. Once he is inside, gently put your hand over the opening.
Hamsters don't tend to make sounds that humans can hear. If they do, it is usually a sign of fear or anger. A series of squeaks means that your hamster is irritated. If he grunts in between the squeaks he's very angry, and if he chatters his teeth he is warning you. A piercing shriek means that he's absolutely terrified.
Sleeping in the daytime
Hamsters are crepuscular, which means that they sleep most of the day and come out in the morning and early evening. It is important that you respect his body clock and don't wake him when he is sleeping. He will gradually get used to your routine and wake when he hears you come home from school.
If your hamster is very cold, he may fall into a deep, coma-like sleep, known as short-term hibernation. If you find your hamster stiff and cold when it is very cold weather, don't assume that he is dead. Put his home in a warmer room and warm him in your hands. If he is hibernating, he will gradually wake up.