Do Hamsters Hibernate ? What To Know To Save His Life

Sometimes your hamster may be hibernating. This can happen to hamsters, but how healthy is it for them ? Do they do this regularly ? How do you wake up a hibernating hamster ?

This is what I went around and asked and researched, since I have an adult Syrian hamster. He’s been safe so far, never needed to hibernate. But I wanted to know what to do to save him, if I ever needed to. So, now you get the info too.

hamster hibernate

So do hamsters hibernate ?

Yes, hamsters do hibernate when the temperature drops. This means that the ambient temperature must be below 65 Fahrenheit/18 Celsius, for a minimum of 24 hours, for hibernation to set in.

Both Syrian and Dwarf type hamsters are capable of hibernation. This happens much less with pet hamsters, because they have a stable habitat, as opposed to wild hamsters.

Pet hamsters, kept in warm homes never need to face the cold, so they will not hibernate naturally. But they will if you expose them to very cold temperatures.

Why hamsters would hibernate in the first place

For this, we’ll talk about what hibernation is, as well as the benefits of hibernating, and how how long it lasts, and so on.

Hamsters hibernate to survive the cold. They have fur, yes, but even the Siberian hamsters are not meant to stay awake at minus 20 Celsius/ minus 4 Fahrenheit. Their metabolism and heart rate slows down. The use much much less energy.

They can sleep their way through winter, while hibernating. But it can be dangerous, since it will dehydrate and famish the hamster if the hibernation lasts too long.

What is hibernation

Hibernation is a state much like sleep, that hamsters will enter if it gets much too cold for them. So this means that once they settle down to ‘sleep’ they will wake up when it’s much warmer, and they will have food outside.

A hibernating hamster has a very slow metabolism, uses very little energy. He’s barely breathing, and may even look like he’s passed away.

Hibernation is common in many animals, and is meant as a survival mechanism. Once the cold temperatures start to set in, animals will gather food and build a warm, safe shelter to pass the winter. They curl up to sleep, and wake up in spring, or when the weather is warmer.

The shelter the animal makes must be safe, so predators won’t find them, or it won’t be flooded or covered. If this does happen, the animal can’t fight back since it’s in a deep sleep.

Hamsters hibernating in the wild vs in captivity

Captive or pet hamsters can hibernate if their habitat gets too cold, for at least 24 hours. 

This happens very rarely, since their habitats are warm and have plenty of food. Pet hamsters have a fairly constant temperature they live in. It rarely or never drops below 18 Celsius/65 Fahrenheit.

And in the summer time the home itself never reaches temperatures above 26 C/79 F, since it becomes uncomfortable for the humans too.

So your pet hamster will probably never have to hibernate if you keep him warm and safe and well fed.

Wild hamsters have to hibernate each cold season. Food isn’t always available, and temperatures vary  in the wild. This means the hamster’s natural instincts will come in, and it will hibernate.

It will start eating more, to put on weight. Yes, hamsters will intentionally get fat so that when the time comes for them to hibernate, they will use that fat for energy.

They will not move, wake up, drink water, or do anything at all. They will wait out the cold and hope for the best. Once the warmer temperatures come back, they will wake up and start looking for food and water.

How long do hamsters hibernate ?

A hamster will hibernate for as long as it is cold, and under 18 C/65 F. That can mean the entire winter and part of spring if it’s a wild hamster. Or, in the case of pets, the hamster will wake up once the temperature rises.

Now, in the pet’s case that depends entirely on you. It’s not recommended to leave a pet hamster hibernating for more than 24 hours since it has no food and water in its system that will keep him more than that.

A pet hamster has not had time to fully prepare for hibernation. When pet hamsters hibernate, it’s more of a shock for them and they can’t last for more than a day like that.

Dangers of hibernation for hamsters

Hamsters in hibernation are in danger of a few things, but I’ll be talking mostly about pet hamsters here. Some of the dangers are:

  • Mistaken for being dead – so you might end up burying a live hamster, who will stir awake after a few days or when it gets warmer, only to die of starvation later.
  • Dehydration – hamsters do not drink a whole lot of water before hibernating, so when they wake up they will need a lot of water, but given in small,controlled amounts.
  • Starvation – depending on how long the hibernation was, your hamster might be starved when he wakes up. Not just hungry, but actually starving.
  • Death, if the hibernation is too long or the temperature drops much too low. Like losing your hamster outside in January for example.
  • Coming out of it with a cold, or sick. Hamsters can’t deal with illnesses as well as humans, so they need immediate attention from your vet.

Is hibernation deadly for hamsters ?

Hibernation can be deadly for hamsters, but you need to understand why. There is a big difference between how a wild hamster and a pet hamster enter hibernation.

A wild hamster will get a sort of ‘warning’ from the weather and temperature around him that the cold is coming. So, he will have time to prepare for this. He will eat a lot, and build a safe and warm nest.

He has months, or all year, to prepare for this.

But a captive hamster has no warning that this will happen, and it’s almost always the result of an accident. For example you’ve left home for a couple of days, and left the AC on, which broke and now keeps the house much too cold.

In response the hamster will hibernate, and will only have the resources you’ve given him before you left.

Your hamster will be fine if you find him soon (up to 24 hours) after entering hibernation. If he stays for more than a couple of days it becomes more and more dangerous. He has no resources in his body to help him through the cold.

hibernating hamster

Hypothermia can be confused with hibernation

This is a very big problem, since these can be confused. Hypothermia sets in when your hamster is suddenly exposed to very cold temperatures for a long period of time.

For example, losing your hamster in the house and he finds a corner to hide in, but it’s a very cold one. Or losing your hamster outside in the middle of winter.

Even something as simple as placing his cage near a vent can shock him like this.

Hypothermia is especially dangerous since it not only comes without a warning, but your hamster is not going to survive for long since he has no resources in his body to keep him alive.

In fact, most pet hamsters who were reported to be hibernating were actually in hypothermic shock. They were exposed to very cold temperatures for more than 24 hours, and had no time to prepare. Even if they were just mild cases of hypothermia.

But I’ll be calling this hibernation for the purpose of this article, since this is what most people will call it.

How to tell your hamster is hibernating

A hibernating hamster will be cold, very cold, limp, unmoving. His paws and ears will be cold, but his cheek pouches should be a bit warmer. You might find him in his hideout, or he might be anywhere in the cage.

His food will be untouched, his water as well. Just no signs of life.

A hibernating hamster will  be very noticeable, but it’s important to figure out if he’s hibernating or he’s passed away. A few signs will help you figure this out.

Check your hamster for breathing

Shallow breathing, and it might be irregular. It might even be something like 2 minutes apart. But it should be these. You need to watch your hamster very carefully. See if his belly moves up and down, or use a mirror.

Place a small mirror under his nose/mouth, and check for any fogginess. Even if it’s just a bit, it should be there. Keep it there for a few minutes to be sure.

Try to hear your hamster’s heartbeat

It will be very faint, and the beats will be few and far apart. But you should find them. You can check this with a stethoscope (if you have one just lying around the house, I don’t know).

Or you can hold him up to your ear, and keep him there for a few minutes. Again, the beats will be very faint but they will be there.

Stroke his ears or whiskers for twitches

You might have to look very carefully, but the hamster’s ears and whiskers will move slightly when you touch them.

Try moving the hamster’s paws

There might be some resistance, but his paws should be able to move. If they’re a bit stiff, that’s okay, it happens when his body gets very cold. But as long as it can move without you putting too much effort, your hamster is fine.

How to wake up a hibernating hamster

It’s important to not be sudden when waking up your hibernating hamster. This is something that should be done slowly and gently, to simulate the natural way a hamster wakes out of hibernation.

Pick up the hamster and massage him

This will help your hammy’s blood circulation, and will slowly warm him up. You have to do this for a few hours. but the massage doesn’t have to be continuous. Just keeping him in a chest pocket would be enough.

After a few hours of being warmed by your body heat, he will wake up on his own.

Slowly raise the temperature around the hamster

Like turning up the thermostat, or moving his cage to a warmer room. You can also use a warm(not hot) water bottle placed close the the hamster to warm him up.

Do not use direct heat on the hamster to wake him up

Don’t place the hamster on a heater, or anywhere very hot in an attempt to wake him up faster. As long as you raise the temperature around him he will wake up on his own.

Also, do not use a blowdryer on the hamster to wake him up. Any sudden change in temperature will only get your hamster into another kind of trouble, which will require more treatment and care than hibernation.

Contact your veterinarian

This might be the safest route, if you’re unsure of what to do. Maybe you’ve tried everything and just can’t seem ti wake your hammy up. Contact your vet, and bring your hamster in for a check up.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

do hamsters hibernate (2)

How to care for a hamster that woke up from hibernation

Once your hamster has woken up, you will need to do a few things.

First, your hamster will be dehydrated since he did not drink any water at all. So provide him with fresh clean water. If you have a water bottle he will use that on his own.

But if your hammy is moving very slowly still, you can use an eye dropper or syringe to give him a few drops of water every few minutes, to make sure he gets some water.

As for the food, your hammy will need something easy to digest and very filling. For example a small piece of cooked chicken, plain, will suffice. Then continue feeding him as usual. If the chicken is a bit warm that’s even better since it will help warm your hammy up.

How to prevent hibernation or hypothermia in hamsters

This can be done by following a few rules, like:

  • Providing your hammy with clean, warm bedding. Check out this article to find out what kind of bedding and hideout your hamster needs to stay safe and warm.
  • Keeping the ambient temperature in the hamster’s room above 18 C/65 F, but below 24 C/75 F.
  • Not moving the hamster or his cage unless you absolutely need to, like moving house. In most cases he can be left home and checked up on by a friend or neighbor. No point in bringing the hamster out into the cold.
  • Providing your hamster with good, safe food. You can check out this food list article to find out what foods your hammy can and can not eat. Scarce food will bring on hibernation much faster.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know walking into your room to find your hamster friend looking stiff with his eyes wide open can be concerning. But we can hibernate with our eyes open too you know ! We’re not ‘seeing’ but our eyes are a bit open.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out what kind of cage we need, and how much we can last without any food or water.

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During the summer, hamsters may require more fluid. Hamsters can dehydrate very quickly, especially at very high temperatures that they do not tolerate well, so they must always have enough fresh, clean water. How much water a hamster needs depends on how the hamster feeds and how active it is. If he eats mostly dry food, he will drink more water. Also if he is very active he will drink more water than he would do at rest. It is very important that the water is changed more often during the summer months to always be fresh and cool for your pet. Cool water will allow you to control the body temperature of your hamster. It is best to give water hamsters with a water bottle that will allow them reliable access to water.4. Place the hamster in a ventilated cage. For the hamster to have enough oxygen it is recommended that his cage is made out of bars. Depending on your preferences you can buy a cage with plastic, metal, or glass bars. Holes between the grilles will allow air to circulate and enough oxygen for your hamster. Some owners prefer to keep hamsters in an aquarium, but in this case, it is even more important that the cage is located in a well-ventilated room. Glass tanks can prevent the spread of cage odors through the room, but keeping a hamster in a glass tank can have serious consequences. The hamster found in the aquarium can easily run out of oxygen as the glass can get quite hot and impede airflow. Ammonia produced in a glass tank can lead to respiratory illness. If you are going to keep a hamster in a glass tank you need to keep the tank in a well-ventilated area and clean it every week. Bar cages in addition to allowing oxygen to flow will prevent the smell from spreading from the cage. Wire allows keeping moisture from building up in the case and thus prevents the cage from stinking quickly. It is recommended to keep hamsters in a bar cage in a well-ventilated room to ensure that the hamster maintains a normal body temperature and that we do not make it difficult for him to breathe. 4. Fruit and veg treats During the summer we all like to eat cold fruit or ice cream to freshen up. You may not have known, but hamsters also like cold snacks in the summer such as fresh fruit and vegetables. You can cool them until they become slightly frozen in the center. The hamster has very strong teeth that will allow him to eat frozen food without any problems. For example, a cold apple or cold celery contains a lot of water that will keep your pet hydrated. You can also chill your little one with some of his other snacks such as barley, cashews flaxseed, oats, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, potato, or sesame seeds. Your pet will enjoy his treats, and they will cool him down at the same time. However, do not give ice cubes to your hamster because the ice will be too cold for your hamster and can harm it. In addition, keep an eye on the diet of your hamster. During the summer months, reduce your intake of energy-rich fattening seeds, nuts, and grains. Instead, give your hamster more vegetables such as cucumber which is full of water, zucchini, a small amount of iceberg lettuce, and many more vegetables that are reached with water. 5. Frozen towel or sheet To give your hamster some fresh air during the summer months, you can use a frozen towel or sheet. A sheet may be a better idea because it is thinner and more air will be able to pass through it, but if you do not have a sheet, you can use a towel. Whatever you decide on, the process is very simple. Put a sheet or towel under the water then place them in the freezer until they freeze. However, if you opt for a towel do not place it over the entire cage but only on one side so that air can circulate. If you opt for a frozen sheet you can put it over the top of the cave. The cold that a sheet or towel will give will significantly reduce the temperatures in your hamster’s cave and allow your hamster to enjoy the summer months as well. 6. Cool the hamster’s cage There are several ways you can cool a hamster’s cage using items you probably have in the household to make it more comfortable. You can put ceramic tile in the cage to give the hamster a cool place in his house. Ceramic tiles are a good insulator and do not heat up as quickly as other materials so it will help the hamster to cool down. Although it will cool the hamster, it will not be too cold for him so it will not cause any problems such as illness. You can also create clay pots in the hamster’s cage. Simply help it and put it in the cave, let it dump, but not wet. You can also put a plain cup in the cage. If the hamster is very hot, it can hide in a cup and thus reduce body temperature. Some hamsters like to sleep in the cup because the cup cools them on all sides when they sit in it. You can also put the ordinary stone in the cave. Make sure the stone has not been warm before. If the stone is of normal temperature, it will not heat up so easily and will allow the hamster to cool down next to it. Be sure to clean the stone before placing it in the cave so as not to bring dirt into it that will bother your hamster. When changing the sand bath, put a little damp sand so that the hamster can roll in it when it is hot. Hamsters like to bathe in bath sand so you can give them a cool bath by freezing bath sand. Simply put it in a plastic bag, freeze for a couple of hours and place it in the hamster’s cage. You can put tiles, clay pots, cups, stone, and sand bath in the fridge to cool, and then put them in the cage. Try to put different things in the cage and observe what suits your hamster best. One of these methods he will surely like. 7. Place frozen water bottle beside hamster’s cage Fill approximately half a bottle of water, then place it in the freezer until it freezes. It is best to put a frozen bottle of water in a towel or cloth and then place it next to the hamster’s cage to release the cold. Without a towel, a lot of water will leak under your hamster’s cage. Also, if you put a frozen bottle in the cage it can hurt your hamster’s skin so it is best to put a towel around the bottle. That way the bottle will still stay cold, but the towel will collect water. The hamster can reach the corner next to the frozen bottle and cool down if it is too hot. If you use a plastic bottle, never put it in the reach of a hamster, as it could bite it and spill water. This is an easy way you can help a hamster to keep him cool. Instead of a bottle, you can also use ice packs, 8. Don’t travel with a hamster To avoid situations where you expose the hamster to unnecessary heat, if this is not necessary, do not travel with a hamster during the summer. It is stressful for your little pet when you take him out of the house because he is not a hamster, he is not used to so many stimuli. In addition, heat can cause serious problems for your hamster. If you can’t avoid traveling, drive a hamster in the evening in an air-conditioned car. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid traveling with a hamster during the day, never leave a hamster in a hot car. No animal can tolerate a few hours in a hot car because it could quickly dehydrate and eventually die. The inside of the car can reach deadly temperatures that can be dangerous to humans as well, while they are often fatal to animals. If you must ride a hamster, be sure to keep the hamster safe from dangerous temperatures. To ensure that your pet is safe take advantage of all the tips we have offered above and thus try to alleviate the heat that awaits the hamster once he leaves the house. 9. Use aspen shavings instead of paper-based bedding The type of bedding you use in your hamster’s cage can affect how hot it will be in your hamster’s cave. Paper-based bedding is better to use during the winter because it retains heat well and will keep your hamster warm. Aspen does not maintain heat as well as paper-based bedding which is a big advantage during the hot summer months when we don’t want anything next to us that retains heat. Also, aspen shaving can absorb up to four times its weight in moisture. Some consider this material to be the only safe wood-based bedding for hamsters that perfectly mimics the natural materials that hamsters use in nature. It is good advice to leave deeper bedding. When you have a deep substrate it is going to be cooler down in the burrows. If you have thin bedding your hamster will have nowhere to hide and the surface of the bedding will quickly gain heat. In the wild, hamsters make burrows on their own when they are hot, thus cooling themselves. Giving them thicker bedding will allow them to behave like in nature and make a kind of burrow. [...] Read more...
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How Fast
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How FastIf you’ve got a hamster and you’ve seen him running, you know he’s fast and relentless. For example my Teddy can run for a straight half hour and I can barely see his tiny paws, he’s so fast. But how fast do hamsters run ? And how much ? This is what I’ll be covering today, and I’ll tell you why hamsters need this much exercise in the first place. Table of Contents ToggleSo how fast do hamsters run ?Why hamsters run in the first placePredatorsTerritoryEnergy levelSo how much does a hamster run in a night ?Give your hamster enough exerciseHamster exercise wheelHamster exercise ballPlaying with your hamsterDangers of not exercising your hamsterObesityAnxiety/stressBar chewingA word from Teddy So how fast do hamsters run ? Hamsters run at about 3-6 mph/5-9.6 km per hour. That’s for Dwarf and Syrian hamsters as well, with the Syrian being the fastest. The speed can vary from hamster to hamster, from breed to breed, but this is about the speed the can reach. A Syrian hamster has larger limbs than a Dwarf hamster, and can cover more ground. The Dwarf is more agile than the Syrian and takes more frequent breaks while running. Hamsters are built more for dodging, hiding, evading, so they’re more agile than they are fast. They’re amazing climbers and have a strong grip. Now let’s take a look at why hamsters run in the first place, to figure out why the reach such speeds. Why hamsters run in the first place Hamsters have 2 main reasons they run, and it’s often a combination of both. It is both instinct and pure energy that makes the cover a lot of ground in a single night. When I first got my Teddy I was amazed at how much he ran and kept running. Sometimes his wheel would wake me up in the middle of the night, so I know he runs pretty much all night. My Teddy is a Syrian hamster, adult, so if yours is the same kind you probably know what I’m walking about. Predators This is the main reasons hamsters run, and it’s become an instinct. Hamsters are prey, so that means they have a very quick reflex of running away. They run, and they have to be fast, but they have to be agile first of all. So a hamster running in the wild will take frequent breaks to listen for predators, and figure out where to run if he hears one. Hamsters need to be able to outsmart everything from wild cats, wild dogs, foxes, owls, snakes, and everything in between. So not only do hamsters need to able to run fast, they also need to be great at dodging an attack, changing their direction, and sprinting at the drop of a feather. If you’ve ever tried to catch your hammy you know he can be incredibly agile and quick to dodge your hand. This is a reflex even pet hamsters have, since they’ve not forgotten where they come from. Territory Hamsters need to cover a lot of ground, in order to find all the food they need. They also need to find a mate, and they need to keep their territory in check. A wild dwarf hamster needs about 3.5 square km, which is about 1.35 square miles. A Syrian will need double that, so you can imagine there’s a lot of ground to cover for such a small creature. The food a hamster eats needs to be gathered, so the hamster will have to run around looking for food every night. There is a stash that hamsters keep in their borrows, but they still need to find fresh food every night, or else. So, all around very busy little things. They need to be quick about it if they want to do all of that in one night, and make it home alive. Energy level Hamsters have an incredible amount of energy, and it needs to be expended. this is why hamsters can be found spending most of their time in the running wheel, when they’re not sleeping. This means that hamsters need a lot of exercise, and there are certain behaviors that will come up if the hamster doesn’t get enough exercise. You can notice a hamster’s immense energy even when he’s just walking about his cage. He’s not just walking, he’s scurrying. Everything he does is fast, focused, and in a bit of a frenzy. So how much does a hamster run in a night ? The average hamster runs about 9 km/5.5 miles in a night, according to Wikipedia. Hamsters can cover more than that distance, or much less, but this is the average. This is for the pet hamster, running in a hamster wheel. Wild hamsters haven’t been recorded, as far as I know. However this distance isn’t covered continuously. A hamster takes many short breaks when he is running, and will often check for predators or food around him. He will take  breaks to drink some water, get back on the wheel, and then eat some more. All of this, couples with how fast a hamster usually runs, means that your hammy needs more exercise than you’d think for such a small creature. So getting your hamster plenty of exercise is crucial for his happiness, health, and proper development. Give your hamster enough exercise You’ve see your hamster race around his cage often, and you’ve seen how fast he can run and how much distance he can cover in a night. Now let’s see how you can help your hammy get all the exercise he needs. Hamster exercise wheel An exercise wheel is what most hamster will get, and it’s what they love most, aside from eating. Getting your hamster a proper exercise wheel will mean you should keep some things in mind. There is a certain size your hamster will need for his exercise wheel. Generally, a Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm in diameter for his exercise wheel. A dwarf hamster can do with less, like a 5 inch/13 cm. However studies have shows that hamsters and rodents will go for larger wheel, if they are available. So even if your dwarf can do with a 5 inch/13 cm wheel, if you place a a 10 inch/25 cm one in his cage he will choose that one as his new favorite. The minimum diameters are only set in regard to how comfortable the hamster’s back is, not his preference. So always go for a large wheel. If you want to know more about hamster wheels, and how to get a good one for your hamster friend, you need to read this article on hamster wheels. You’ll find all the info you need on how to get your hamster the best wheel, along with an actual example. Hamster exercise ball This is the second way your hamster can get some exercise, but outside of his cage. There are a few advantages to an exercise ball, and I’ll walk you through them. First, your hamster will be able to explore your home. You know he always wants to know everything that’s going on. He’s always on the bars, looking for whatever you’re doing. Second, if he ever starts to get restless and chew the cage bars, this is a good way to quiet him. It will give him something else to do, and a way to expend his energy. Third, your hamster gets even more exercise, since he also has to push the ball itself in order to move it around. It’s fun, actually, for everyone involved. Never leave your hamster more than 30 minutes in his exercise ball, since he can get dehydrated, and will start looking for food as well. You’ll know it’s time to put him back in his cage when you start hearing his dropping rattling around his exercise ball. If you want to know more about exercise balls for hamsters, and how to use one for your hamster the right way, you can check this article right here. You’ll also find out what kind of exercise ball your hamster needs, and how to place him in one in the first place. Playing with your hamster Another way to give your hamster some exercise is to actually play with him. You probably won’t be able to tire him as much as his exercise wheel or ball, but it’s still an exercise for him. You can try playing with him in your hands, but he will not stay for long there, no more than a couple of minutes at a time. And you can also use a toilet paper square, dangle it in front of him, and he’ll try to pull it from you, or climb onto it. There are many ways you can play with your hamster, and  they all improve the bond between you and your hamster. This is very important when you’re trying to tame your hamster. So play with him as much and as often as you can, since he will not be around for very long. Hamsters live only for 2-4 years, so you should take advantage of the time you have together. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Dangers of not exercising your hamster There are dangers to not giving your hamster enough exercise. This means that the hamster either has no running wheel, or he only has the small one that comes with his cage. You know, the small plastic wheel that aren’t good even for dwarf hamsters. You should know what will happen to your hamster if he doesn’t get enough exercise. Obesity A very common problem for hamsters. This can happen to any hamster, since all that pent up energy has to go somewhere. So if you feed your hamster as usual, and he has no way to exercise, he will get fat. Which is a serious health problem, for every creature but especially hamsters. An obese hamster will have heart problems much faster, which is not funny since his little heart stops very easily anyway. Hamsters die of heart attacks very often, mostly because their heart can’t withstand shocks like scaring them. An obese hamster will also have joint and hip problems much faster and much worse. Please feed and exercise your hamster responsibly. You can find out more about why hamsters can get fat here, along with how to slim him down to save his health. And you can find here a helpful list of the foods your hamster can eat, as well as what he should never eat for his own good. Anxiety/stress A hamster is a very anxious and stressed creature anyway. That means a lot of negative energy that needs to be released. So if your hamster has no way to exercise, all that energy will feed upon itself and lead to a very anxious, possibly irritable hamster. He can develop stress based problems, like wet tail or a series or skin problems. A stressed hamster will scale the cage walls, will click his teeth, and will possibly jump at you. He will be much harder to handle, and won’t really be your cuddly friend. Pent up stress and anxiety can devolve into fights between cage mates, which is not something to laugh at since these usually take place at night, when you’re sleeping and can’t break them up. So do you hamster a favor, and give him plenty of exercise options. Aside from the exercise wheel and ball, you can get your hamster an entire host of toys. Or you can DYI them, you choice. You can find out more about hamster toys here, like what types to get or make for your hamster, and pick your favorites from there. Bar chewing This must be one of the most hated habits of hamster everywhere. Every hamster owner I know deals with this, and fortunately it’s only for a few minutes every day, and then the hamster stops. But a hamster with no way to release his energy will find other ways, like chewing the cage bars, or trying to bite on the glass tank. This is of the most annoying and hardest to beat habits that a hamster can develop, and it only comes about in certain times. When he is bored, or when he is angry or stressed. The hamster will chew and chew and bite some more at the cars of his cage, and not stop, possibly even for 15 minutes straight. You can hear his teeth chattering whenever he stops, and nothing will persuade him to leave those bars alone for more than a couple of minutes. This can also be accompanied by scaling the cage, running around the cage, moving his hideout and any large pieces of his ‘furniture’. A word from Teddy I hope your found out how much us hammies can run, and how far we can get. We love to run and run and run some more, so please make sure you get your hamster a good running wheel or exercise ball. If you want to know more about why us hamsters need such a large cage, and how much we eat and what to feed us, you should check out he articles below. [...] Read more...
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy Steps
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy StepsPotty training a hamster is just as important as it is for the other common pets we keep at home. since it will help you have a cleaner cage and a nicer smell in your home However, a hamster is not a dog or a cat; potty training your little furball can be quite challenging, so that’s why I decided to make a step-by-step guide. Before getting into this topic, it is important to know that hamsters are quite clean, and their cage doesn’t smell as bad as other small animals/rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs. Generally the smell doesn’t come from their poo or pee, but from marking their territory.  Table of Contents ToggleCan you potty train a hamster?How to potty train a hamster?4 Steps to potty train a hamster1. Check the behaviors2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box3. Choose the best litter4. Get your hamster used to the litter boxWhy should you potty train a hamster?How often to change the litter?Conclusion Can you potty train a hamster? Yes, you can potty train a hamster, but depending on your hamster’s personality, you might have more or fewer chances to succeed. I know most guides and videos talk about this topic like it is a walk in the park, but considering that hamsters are quite stubborn and, truth to be told, not the most intelligent rodents, it might be quite challenging to change their habits. If you want to increase your chances of succeeding when potty training a hamster, you have to do this as soon as possible. Training your hamster once it has already developed its habits will be way harder. That being said, let’s get to the actual topic. How to potty train a hamster? There are 4 easy steps that you should follow to make sure you do your best when you potty train a hamster. It is important that you are patient with your small pet, it can take a while to properly potty train your hamster. Also, an important thing to know is that you hamster might change their routine all of a sudden, especially when you clean its cage.  So you might succeed in potty training it for now, but this can change and vice versa, you might not succeed immediately, but in time, they will get to use the litter properly on their own. 4 Steps to potty train a hamster Here are 4 easy steps you can follow to properly potty train your hamster: 1. Check the behaviors The first step is to observe your hamster’s habits. Hamsters usually have a favorite spot to pee in, as I discussed in the article about why hamsters pee in their wheel.  They might not have a favorite spot when it comes to pooping, but that is not as important when potty training a hamster since their poop doesn’t smell that bad and it is solid, so it will not make a mess in the cage if they poop all over the place (which they will most probably do). They might be more poop in one place, but they rarely have only one or two favorite spots to poop. So, this is the first step you have to do, observe where they usually pee to know where to place the litter box. 2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box Now that you know where to place the litter box, buy a good plastic litter box or use any other plastic bowl or casserole you have. Hamsters usually pee in the corner of the cage, that’s why the most useful litter will be in kind of a triangle shape so you can cover the corner. If you don’t cover the spot they use as a litter with the litter box, your hamster might get around that and pee where they are used to. Buying a litter box that is specially made for this purpose will be easier. Here is a good triangle one that you can find on Amazon, if you hamster is used to peeing in a corner.    However, if your hamster is peeing in the middle of a side of the cage, an oval or rectangle one might be more useful. Here you can find an oval-ish litter box   If you want to save some money, you can use a plastic casserole. Clean it very well but without using too much soap since the hamsters are very sensitive to strong smells. The plastic container has to be heavy enough your hamster won’t move it or turn it over. You probably have to make some adjustments to the casserole to make it a good litter box. So you have to cut an entrance on a side, big enough for your hamster to fit, and make sure you make the surface smooth without any places where your hamster might get hurt. I saw some people recommend cardboard litter boxes, but hamsters can eat cardboard or chew very fast on it, so it might be a waste of time to keep changing it. They can chew on the plastic as well, but they will go through it way slower than they will go through cardboard. 3. Choose the best litter Choosing a good litter is as important, if not more as choosing a good litter box. There are many options out there, but not all of them are safe. Providing hamsters with safe litter that does not contain dust and is made from materials such as paper, chopped straw, wood pulp, or dried plant material is important. These materials are non-toxic and provide an ideal safe environment for your pet hamster. Some companies even sell cotton-based bedding and litter. It might look nice since it can be in fun colors, but it is important to know that hamsters should not be exposed to cotton litter or bedding as it can lead to choking, intestinal blockage, constipation, or limb entanglement. Here is a potty litter I found on Amazon that should be safe for your hamster:    Some people use sand as litter, but your hamster might use that for taking a bath instead of using it as a litter. That being said, this doesn’t mean it can’t work, if you want, you can give it a try. If you buy proper sand for your hamster, it should be safe. 4. Get your hamster used to the litter box Now, once you have everything set up, you have to do the following. Place the litter box in the corner or the spot your hamster uses as a litter and a bit of soiled bedding and some of their droppings in the litter box and wait. If you are lucky, your hamster might get to use the litter box right away. If not, you might have to put it in the litter so they get to know the place. If your hamster is not a friendly one, and you can’t move it to the litter box too easily, you might have to place some treats inside the litter box to lure them in. If you don’t succeed at first, don’t get the litter box out of its cage, it might get to use it later, so don’t give up. Why should you potty train a hamster? Potty training a hamster is important in order to have a cleaner cage. As I said before, hamsters are quite clean, they don’t smell bad, but cleaning a hamster cage might be challenging if they pee too much in one place since that pee will combine with the bedding and get stuck to the corner of the cage. And having in mind that you can’t use too much soap when you clean a hamster cage, it might be hard to clean a cage after a while. Having a litter box will make it much easier. You just get the box out, throw out what is in it, clean it a bit with hot water, dry it, and put it back with new litter. Observation: Your hamster doesn’t know that the new object you add to the cage is a litter box, and what that is.  They might use it as a new home where to sleep, as a sandbox to bath in, or just to sit in there and do nothing. This is not in your control, so don’t feel bad if it happens. How often to change the litter? Several things factor into how often a hamster’s litter needs to be changed, such as the type of bedding, the size of their cage, and the number of hamsters living in it(in the case of dwarf hamsters).  It is generally recommended to spot-clean the cage every couple of days, get rid of any poo and dirty bedding, and change the bedding entirely at least once a month. However, some of the original bedding should always be left in the cage to maintain your hamster’s scent. Conclusion Potty training a hamster is possible, and it is a good idea to at least try to potty train your hamster since it will make your job of cleaning the cage easier, and there will be a better smell overall in the cage. However, I wanted to be realistic and explain the steps you have to do but also the challenges you can face since a hamster is unpredictable and quite hard to train. Here is an article about taming your hamster while we are on the training topic, which is also challenging for some hamsters. I hope this article was helpful and now you know what to do in order to potty train your hamster properly, if you don’t succeed, don’t feel bad, not all hamsters will do that. [...] Read more...
Syrian Hamster 101 – Breed Info And Care Sheet
Syrian Hamster 101 – Breed Info And Care SheetWant to know everything there is to know about the Syrian hamster ? I know I did when I first got my Teddy home. Especially if you’re a first-time hamster owner, you will need to know how your new pet stands out from the rest. So I’m going to help you with everything I know about Syrian hamsters, including how to care for him and what you can expect from this fluffy, sweet guy. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the Syrian hamster – short overviewHow the Syrian hamster became a petSyrian hamster size and body shapeSyrian hamster coat patternSyrian hamster health and lifespanSyrian hamster pregnancy and breedingSyrian hamster housing and cagesSyrian hamster diet and foodSyrian hamster toys and cage objectsA word from Teddy About the Syrian hamster – short overview The Syrian hamster has many names. He’s the most common hamster type (there’s 5 out there) and the one you’ve probably got in your home right now. You’ll find the Syrian under names such as : Teddy bear hamster – their faces look a bit like a teddy bear face Fancy hamster/fancy bear – especially the longhaired ones Variations on coat pattern names, like Panda hamsters (white and black), Golden hamsters (the traditional pattern), Black hamsters (all black), and so on Syrian hamster Big hamster Syrian hamsters are the largest of the hamster types, and they are solitary. They can never share their home with another hamster, or else bloody and lethal fights ensue. Males have a particularly large rear-end, since their testicles are very large for their bodies and form a permanent bulge around their very small tail. Their scent glands are on their hips, so you might notice big black dots there. Syrian hamsters are the slowest hamsters – still fast though, they’re hamsters – and they’re easier to tame and train than the Dwarf types. As such, they’re great starter pets for people who have never had a hamster before. They don’t bite as much or as often as Dwarf hamsters, and they’re easier to hold onto, since they’re larger. My own little Teddy is a Syrian hamster (hence his terribly inspired name), and he’s a Golden one, with orange and white and dustings of grey. How the Syrian hamster became a pet Originally the Syrian hamster was discovered by 1839 in Syria (hence the name). A mother with a litter of babies was brought to Jerusalem for study in 1930, and most (if not all) Syrian hamsters available for sale today are descendants of that mother and her babies. A few of them escaped from the lab in Jerusalem and have settled as wild hamsters there. For the most part Syrian hamsters were used as lab subjects for observations, and later put on display in London’s famous zoo. This is discussed in much more detail in the origin story of hamsters, how they came to be pets and where each of them comes from. The Syrian hamster comes from Syria and southern Turkey. He is used to deserts and sand, but not high temperatures. He only comes out at dusk and dawn in the wild, when the temperature is bearable and his predators don’t see very well. He doesn’t see very well either, and relies mostly on smell and hearing to navigate his surroundings. Syrian hamster size and body shape The Syrian hamster is the largest hamster available as a pet. He can grow to be 13-18 cm/5-7 inch long, though some hamsters have grown bigger than that. They’re also the heaviest hamster, ranging between 100-200 gr/3.5 -7 oz, some of them going a bit over that. As opposed to the Dwarf types, Syrians have a distinct neck and their hind legs don’t have that elongated look. They’re more diggers than runners, you might say. Their faces aren’t as narrow and pointy as the Dwarf hamster’s, and they look ridiculous with their cheeks stuffed. Given their rounder, fuzzier face, Syrians have also been known as teddy bear hamsters. They do look a bit like that, I guess. The Syrian’s tail is short, thin, and a fleshy pink. It’s got no fur, and it’s not often noticeable. If you’ve got a dark haired hamster though, you might see it easier. They’ve got no fur on their paws either, unlike the Dwarf types. This helps them grip and grab easier in the sands and in their tunnels. Syrian hamster coat pattern Traditionally you will find Syrian hamster with the golden pattern, like my teddy shown above. Granted, my Teddy’s colors fade into each other, while other Golden variation have a stark difference between each color. Some look more like color splotches. The Golden variation is the orange on the back, white on the belly, and a few dark grey markings on their back, forehead and neck. Their ears are also grey. When the hamster is still a baby, he will look mostly orange with some white. The grey appears and becomes definitive only when the hamster becomes an adult, around the 3 month mark. This color pattern helped the Syrian hamster camouflage himself in the sands and escape his predators. It’s the usual color you’ll find wild hamsters. Any odd variations will stand out against the sand and they become easy prey. Breeders have focused on changing and enhancing the color patterns of captive hamsters. We now have a wide variety of hamsters colors to choose from. For example when I picked up Teddy he was in a cage with a light brown hammy, a couple of black ones, and a few randomly spotted hamsters. Imagine the Syrian hamster’s available color patterns like you would a cat’s myriad of colors. Except stripes. Hamsters haven’t developed stripes like the cats, but aside from that the colors come in rings, bands, patches, spots, mottles, full color, dustings, anything you can imagine. In time, as the hamster becomes a senior, your will see the fur get lighter overall, but no distinct silver hairs as you would in old dogs for example. Syrian hamster health and lifespan The Syrian hamster is the second-longest lived hamster, right after the Roborovski Dwarf. The Syrian can live up to 3 years in captivity, and some have been known to live past that. Genetics, as well as the care and stress levels play a big role in how long and how well your hamster lives. This means that some hamsters, although not suffering from any terrible illness, can wither away by their first year. Or, some can live to be 3.5 years old. Babies become adults by the time they reach the 12th week of age, and can breed as soon as they’re weaned. But generally, Syrian hamsters live up to 3 years, and are considered old when they reach their second birthday. My Teddy is currently a year and a half old (born in July 2017), and there are some changes happening to him. He’s lost a large part of his energy, doesn’t eat as much, and sleeps most of the time. This is normal for hamsters going into old age. You’ll notice the hamster is definitely old and frail when his fur starts getting sparse, and he develops a sort of bald spot starting from his rear end and back legs. This is the usual pattern, and there is nothing we as owners can do to help or change that. Aside from that sign, the hamster’s skin will become very loose, wrinkly, and he will have a bony/skinny appearance, although he seems to be eating. Unfortunately this means his end is very near, and you will have to keep a close watch on him. When it comes to Syrian hamsters, wet-tail is the most notorious and dangerous disease they can contract. This is a form of diarrhea, which if often lethal if left untreated, or discovered too late. You can find out more about wet-tail here, and how to notice it and treat it. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Syrian hamster pregnancy and breeding Breeding is, like with other hamsters, kind of violent and the female will half mate, half fight with the male during their breeding window. The female comes into heat every few days, for 4 days straight, at night. That is when the male can be introduced to her, and the mating can begin. Sometimes the female is too violent and just want to pick a fight, so the male needs to be removed. Once the female accepts the male and the mating is successful, she will fall pregnant. The male will need to be kept away from the female, since she will attack him after becoming pregnant. The usual gestation period for Syrian hamsters is 16-18 days, after which the female will give birth to a litter between 3 and 15 baby hamsters. She should not be disturbed at all during the birthing process, and 2 weeks afterwards. Only provide her with food and water through the bars. Anything that scares, stresses, or annoys her can lead her to eat her young, especially if it’s her first litter. Another reason the male should be kept away from the female is because she can fall pregnant immediately after giving birth, which will be difficult both on her and all her babies. And also because the male will kill the newborns to get her full attention. So make sure you keep the male and female separated at all times, except when trying for a litter. Once the hamsters are born, they are blind and hairless. They will suckle from their mother until they are 4 weeks old, which is when she will wean them. The babies can now be introduced to solid food. They also need to be separated into all male and all female groups, to avoid surprise pregnancies. However keeping the hamsters together past week 8-10 of age is not recommended, since that is when they become territorial. It will not matter if it’s their mother or brother or sister with them, they will start fighting and it often is deadly. Always keep a Syrian hamster alone, in one cage. Syrian hamster housing and cages Of all the hamsters, Syrians have the largest minimum needs when it comes to cages and housing them. The minimum cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Of course, the bigger the cage the better. All hamsters, no matter their breed, will opt for a bigger cage, a bigger running wheel, and more space to run if they can. But, not everyone has the possibility of keeping a big cage for their hamster, mostly due to cost and space in their home. The best idea would be an Ikea Detolf. That’s a simple standing shelf, with the shelves removed, and put on its side. Construction a wire mesh for it is fairly easy, many tutorials are available online. Detolfs are expensive and big, so wherever you put them, that’s where they’re going to stay. Cleaning them is a bit different from an ordinary cage as well, but they give your hamster much more space to run around and play. What about commercial hamster cages ? Are they big enough for Syrians ? Well, sadly, no. For the most part commercial cages are too small for a Syrian. Not all, but most of them. Looking for a cage big enough is a bit of a hassle, but they can be found. For example this one, a wire cage with a plastic bottom, with an adjustable extra level. It’s got enough floor space for the hamster to use, and the extra level will give him a bit more. Hamsters don’t use all the levels in their cage, so just one level is enough. They prefer the ground level anyway, and might build the nest under that level. That being said, this cage provides both airflow, and containment. The spacing between the wires is less than half an inch, so the Syrian hamster won’t be able to squeeze himself through those wires. You can check the listing on Amazon here. As for the bedding, your hammy will need either wood shavings, or paper bedding. If you get wood shavings, make sure you get aspen, and stay away from cedar or pine as they can suffocate a hamster. Syrian hamster diet and food Syrian hamsters eat mostly grains, with a few vegetable and fruits added in. Nuts and seeds are welcome too, as is a bit of protein. Things like cooked, plain chicken and boiled egg white are good sources of protein, as well as mealworms and small insects. However commercial food mixes are more than enough, with a well studied composition and covering their dietary needs. So, giving your hamster a good food mix will go a long way. You can always supplement the hamster’s diet with foods you already have in your pantry or fridge. A safe foods list is here, and most of them are easily available across the world. The Syrian hamster will need 2 teaspoons of dry food mix per day, and he will hide most of it in his nest. Overfeeding him won’t make him stop hiding the food, since this is a natural instinct of his. It will only result in more hidden food, and a fat hamster, which can lead to diabetes and joint problems. Syrian hamster toys and cage objects The first thing about a hamster, any hamster, is that he loves to run. all night, every night. He will get lazier as he ages, but until then he will run as far as his little feet will take him A Syrian hamster is no different, so he will need an exercise wheel. The thing is, he will need a larger wheel than the other hamsters, since he is so large. The hamster’s back should not be arched when he runs, since this can create back problems. This is why the wheel itself must be very wide, to keep his back straight. For example a wheel like this one is large enough for any kind of hamster, but especially a Syrian. Syrians are the largest, and if yours happens to grow past 18 cm/7 inches long, then a wheel as big as this one will still fit him. It’s got a heavy bottom, so you’re sure it won’t move about the cage. And it’s got a tail and foot guard, so he doesn’t catch onto something. Best of all, it’s silent and won’t keep you up at night with squeaks and grinding metal. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check it out for yourself. Aside from the exercise wheel, the Syrian will need some objects in his cage (aside from the food bowl and the water bottle). Like a wooden hideout for him to build a nest in, a chew toy, a few cardboard tunnels made from paper towel rolls. Climbing toys are welcome to, and so are hide and seek toys. Most of these can be either bought from a store or online, or even made at home from wood or cardboard. You can find out more about that here. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can seem very confusing with all our cousins, but you’ll learn about each of us in time. Us Syrians are the biggest, and the friendliest by far. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...