8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save Them

It sounds like a horror story, a mother hamster eating her babies. But it can happen, and it’s never fun to watch. There’s a few ways you can save the babies, but you have to be careful. 

You can’t save them every time, but you can still do your best to make sure they don’t end up horribly. There are some reasons though, why the hamster mothers do that. Those are very important to understand, in order to save the babies.

hamster babies 2

So why do hamsters eat their babies ?

Mother hamsters are not as emotional as human mothers.  There are a few reasons a hamster mother might eat her young, and here they are:

  1. She feels stressed/threatened like if you constantly check on her and the litter
  2. Her personal space in too small, the babies take up too much space in a cage that is too tiny
  3. She is very hungry after giving birth
  4. Accidentally storing them in her cheeks to carry them
  5. Biting them too hard when she carries them
  6. She thinks something’s wrong with them (diseased, or something physical they can’t survive)
  7. You or someone else have touched them (changed their scent) and she doesn’t think they’re hers
  8. Father hamsters are liable to eating their young as well 

These are mostly reasons that can be avoided, or can be worked on so the mother is comfortable. 

Rodent mothers are not the most careful mothers in the first place, compared to other mothers, for example cats or dogs. All animals can eat or kill their young, if they consider something is wrong with them. But rodent mothers, and hamsters are rodents, are much less attached to their babies.

So let’s get into every reason the mother can eat her young, and how you can avoid this from happening, and/or possibly save the babies.

How to save the hamster babies from being eaten

Many times when the mother decides eating her young is an option, there’s not much you can do. But, you can save the babies 90% of the time by not putting the mother in a position where she thinks she needs to eat them.

Here are the most common examples, and how you can save those babies by helping the mother.

Do not stress the mother

This is the major reason hamster mothers end up eating their young. The stress and effort of giving birth, especially her first litter, combined with you checking up on her constantly will annoy her. 

Once you notice the mother is approaching her due date (18-22 days after mating), start giving her much more food than usual, and bedding and nesting material as well.

She will find the most hidden corner, or use her hideout, to give birth, and you must leave her alone during this time. Best to even leave the room. Fortunately it will probably happen at night, when you’re sleeping.

So if you know your hammy is about to give birth, be careful when approaching her in the morning. Do not poke at her or the cage, talk to her, or try to interact with the babies.

Keep her warm and well fed, and make sure she has plenty of quiet and small children or other pets can’t reach her.

Leave food/protein for the mother before she gives birth

If you notice that your hamster has give birth overnight, bring her some protein. This is the food that will help her regain her strength immediately. Something like cooked egg white, or cooked plain chicken is good for your hamster. 

You could leave her pieces of chicken every evening until she gives birth if you want, but it’s best to not give her something that will leave a tasty smell on the bedding right before she gives birth. She might get confused as to which one is chicken and which is her baby. 

So only give her chicken or egg after she gave birth, only  while you can see her. Even if you don’t stay more than a few minutes, make sure she finishes the piece and not the babies. 

In the mean time, continue feeding her through the bars, without placing your hand inside the cage. You can introduce a teaspoon through the bars to give her dry food, or sprinkle some on her food bowl.

She will have a stash of food anyway, but right now would be a good time to give her more. For a list of safe foods you can give your hammy, check out this food list article.

Give the mother plenty of space, in a large cage

This is again something that will always come up. Space, lots of it, is something that hamsters need. The absolute minimum for a hamster cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.

That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and it’s what I’d recommend for a dwarf hamster as well.

A hamster mother giving birth to 6-12 babies at once is going to fill up a cage fast. In those times, even her large cage might seem a bit cramped for her. 

So always get your hamster a large cage, larger than you’d think. Especially if it’s a female you will want to breed later. You can find out more about hamster cages here, since you’ll get a rundown of all cage types and which is best for your hammy.

If you’ve got 2 or more hamsters housed in the same cage, remove the mother-to-be and put her in a different, large cage long before she gives birth. She needs to adjust and feel comfortable in her new home as soon as you put her there, so place some of her old bedding and nesting material in her new temporary cage.

Do not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birth

This is because the mother is very tired ans started and jumpy while her babies are still very young. So do not open her cage, or change the bedding, try to put her in an exercise ball or separate her from her babies.

Hamster mothers will do their best to raise and wean every one of their young, but they can scare very easily and end up eating their babies.

This includes feeding the mother as well, feed her through the bars with a teaspoon or sprinkle some dry food onto her bowl.

Do not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks)

Touching the babies is a big mistake, when they’re so young. A baby hamster can only be removed from his mother after 3-4 weeks, and can be given for adoption immediately after.

You will notice the mother has weaned them when she pushes them away after they try to nurse from her. In this period it’s important to provide her cage with even more food, since the babies will now need ‘adult’ food, like a food mix or some safe foods from your fridge or pantry.

Touching or handling the babies before they are weaned will make the mother think they’re foreign, and not hers. She will reject or even eat them, so it’s best to wait a few more weeks.

Separate the father from the litter at all times

If the father was in the same cage as the mother, and you didn’t know she was pregnant, remove the father from the cage.

Surprises happen, especially with dwarf pairs, since their sex is difficult to tell sometimes. So you might end up with a male and female pair that will give you a surprise litter one morning.

The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention.

Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage. If you don’t want any more litters, keep the male and female separate at all times.

Hamsters can mate again, right after the mother gave birth, so keep them apart.

Some things you can’t change or save

Even if you do you best to keep the mother safe, warm, well fed, not stressed, and on her own in a very large cage, she still might eat at least some of her babies.

This is mostly due to accidents, like her biting too hard on the baby when she tries to pick him up. Or maybe she stores the baby in her cheeks to move and forgets that’s her baby.

It sounds horrible, but small animals can get clumsy like this too. If this happens, there’s not much you can do. If the baby is not weaned yet, you can not touch it because the mother will reject it and then definitely eat it.

Unless you want to raise the litter on your own, since they are just a few days old. But then they will lack the important interaction they need with their mother, to learn how to ‘be’ hamsters.

This is a very touchy topic, and one I’m not about to breach here. The same goes for hamster mothers who kill the babies on purpose, because they think there’s something wrong with them. Like they might be sick or have something wrong with their body, that only she can tell.

She might kill them if this is the case, because she thinks they will not survive on their own. This is again something that can’t be helped, and it’s sad but it can happen.

How to tell your hamster is pregnant

Maybe you ended up with a pregnant hamster when you bought her from the pet store. Or maybe you notice that one of your dwarf hammies is looking a bit odd. Whatever the case, here is how the pregnancy happens and how you can tell your hamster is pregnant.

First, the pregnancy lasts from 18 to 22 days, time in which the hamster’s midsection will become larger and larger. You will notice she eats much more, and doesn’t exercise as much. She is saving her strength.

She will become more and more irritable as her dues date approaches, and will look for hidden, safe corners n her cage.

At this time it’s best to remover her from her cage mate, and place her in a large cage on her own, with plenty of familiar old bedding and nesting material, and plenty of places to hide.

If you’re not sure if your hamster is pregnant, but she seems to suddenly be a bit larger and is constantly digging and burrowing and building a large nest, best to separate her from her cage mate.

If you’re wrong and she’s not pregnant, that’s okay and you can place her back. But wait for at least 3 weeks after you separate her, to see if she does give birth or not.

(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.)

hamster babies 3

About hamster fertility and breeding

Hamsters can breed basically every month. In theory, you can have a new litter every month.

This is because a hamster can get pregnant within minutes after giving birth. The problem with this that the mother will be dehydrated and malnourished, and won’t be able to care properly for her existing litter.

Baby hamsters can mate as soon as their mother weaned them.  That’s around 3-4 weeks of age, so you need to separate the hamsters into male and female cages immediately after this happens. If you don’t, more hamster litters will come in a few weeks.

To figure out which is male and which is female, pick the hamster up, and look at his rear end. In females the genitals are right under the anus. In males, there is a more noticeable space left between them. If you tilt a male a bit back while you told him, you might even notice his testicles around his tail.

This is more difficult with the smaller breeds, so every breed except for the Syrian. And hamsters do not like to be held this much or in that position, so they will squirm a bit. But you must do this to figure out which is which, in order to separate them.

Female hamsters are in heat every few days, during the night, so they can be mated at any point. There is no mating seasons for hamsters, as there is with other animals.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out a lot about us hammies here. I know a momma eating her babies is terrible, but it can happen sometimes, and I’m glad you found out how to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Us hamsters grow up fast, so make sure you keep us separated by sexes or we’ll make a whole clan in a few weeks.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we freeze, how much food we need, and even why we eat our poop !

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What to do when your hamster is frozen It’s important to let your hamster listen for a few seconds for what just happened. They learn and get used to new sounds as time goes on. If he’s not coming out of it soon, you can try talking to your hammy. Keep in mind that he has sensitive hearing, so keep your voice low and soothing. You can bring him a small treat as well, to distract your hamster. I’ve done this with Teddy, and while at first he doesn’t react, after a few seconds he comes closer to hear me out. If you want to know what other foods you can give your hammy, check out my article about what do hamsters eat. I’ll also tell you about some other treat options that are safe for hamsters, and your hammy might love them ! Hamsters have very sensitive hearing and smell So it could be that your hamster froze for no reason. But he heard something you didn’t. It might not be anything, it could be leaves falling or a clock ticking. To your hamster it might sound interesting or scary or important. This is something hamsters do regularly, so do not worry. Your hamster is fine, he’s just listening for something. For example Teddy will run and run and run in his wheel and then suddenly stop, get on his hind feet, and just stand there for a full minute. He’s done this when eating, or drinking water, cleaning himself as well. Basically anytime. The main reason behind this behavior is that hamsters are prey, and they’re used to running away from everything. In time their instincts have evolved to get them to check for predators at all times. Even if your hamster grew up in your home, safe and sound, he will still do this. It’s normal, and part of a hamster’s life. Your hamster has very good hearing, to listen for any possible threat. But he also has very sensitive smell, so he will react to that as well. If your hamster is used to you and your smell, and you go to pick him up after handling something he might not like (like citrus) he will scurry away from you long before your hand gets close to it. When you do wash your hands, make sure it’s not with very floral or strongly scented soap. Otherwise your hamster will not want to get close to your hands. Also be careful when handling food and then your hamster. It might mistake the smell of chicken wings on your fingers for actual food, and bite. They don’t have very good eyesight, especially when compared to their hearing and smell. They’re very active at dawn and dusk, so crepuscular light is best for them. Should you worry about your hamster freezing ? Your hamster is alright, even if it might seem strange that it freezes suddenly. He’s simply listening for something, and just following his own instincts. Unless your hamster freezes often and for long periods of time, there is no reason to worry. However if you’re still worried, best to bring him to the vet, for a general checkup. One reason your hamster seems to freeze often could be that he’s very scared of you. This is fairly normal when your hamster is young or new to the house. For this it’s best to get your hamster slowly used to your presence, and feed him treats whenever you see him so he learns to trust you and get used to you. Limit those treats though, since an overweight hamster is not healthy and will develop serious health problems over time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after this image.) Other hamster behaviors that might seem strange These are things I’ve seen Teddy do, and seen other hamsters in videos do. Some of them have an explanation, and some of them are just… random. Backflips. Hamsters react very suddenly when startled, so if you scare them and you’re very sudden, they might just do a backflip or jump to the side. Or just jump. Hamsters are kind of acrobats, and I’ve seen Teddy backflip and land safely. This does not mean you should make your hamster do a backflip, ever. But they can do this, and although it looks funny for humans, it’s a sign of fear. Sprints. Hamsters will sometimes suddenly sprint into their hideouts, or just through their cage. They can do this when they’re startled, or just because. I’ve seen Teddy do this for no apparent reason. Climbing and falling off the cage. This is something I’ve never managed to understand, and I’ve found no relevant answers online either. Teddy will sometimes scale the cage walls, and get a serious ab and back workout out of it. And then suddenly let go. He just falls. He lands on the bedding, and there’s lots of it, so he’s safe. But no one I’ve spoke to about this knows an answer. I’ve seen Teddy do this with the top of the cage as well. It happened more often when he was younger, and had more energy. For moments like these it’s important you get your hamster a very good cage, that’s also safe and large enough so he can run around. Hamsters scaling the cage walls are a sign of extra energy and you can provide your hamster with an exercise wheel, as they need to run to burn that energy. Here is an in-depth look at the best hamster wheels, according to hamster breeds and budget. I’ve taken care of that and provided him with a large cage and wheel anyway. But I still don’t know why my hamster suddenly falls off the cage walls. You can make sure your hamster doesn’t hurt himself by giving him lots of bedding. To find out how much bedding a hamster needs, check out my article here. And here you’ll find a roundup of the best hamster bedding options available. Laying down slowly. It looks a lot like they’re melting or getting ready to sleep. As far as I’ve seen with Teddy, he slowly lays down near a corner of the cage, not in his house. He closes his eyes and drifts off. It’s like he forgot he has a house to sleep in. It never lasts more than a few minutes, and he does react if I speak to him or tap the cage. But he will put his head back down and lay flat. Other hamster owners I’ve spoken to said it might just be a form of dozing off. A word from Teddy I hope this article was helpful to you, and you know why we can sometimes freeze. I used to do that a lot when I was a ‘kid’, until I learned most of the sounds in the house. Now I just freeze if someone walks by me at night when I know I’m alone. If your hammy is doing the same, don’t worry. He’s probably curious about what’s happening and is focusing on figuring it out. Talk to him and he’ll come closer to listen to you instead. Feel free to look around the blog, you might find more useful articles on hamsters. 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5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters Apart
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters ApartIf you have two hamsters from the same species, they can look exactly the same, especially if they are hamsters from the same litter. In that case, it can be quite difficult to distinguish hamsters when you first become their owner. To differentiate them, you need to figure out a way to tell your hamsters apart. On the internet, you can find various tips on how to mark your hamsters to tell them apart. However, you have to be very careful. Tips such as to tie a ribbon around your hamster can be extremely dangerous and can even cause the death of the hamster. To help you safely differentiate your hamsters, here are some creative ways to tell your hamsters apart. Table of Contents Toggle1. Food colors2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster3. Put hamsters in different cages4. Study your hamsters’ personality5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters 1. Food colors Sometimes it will happen that hamsters have absolutely no noticeable physical differences. In such cases, unless you know them very well, you will not be able to distinguish them which can sometimes create problems. Some owners have therefore decided to use the hamster labeling method with food colors. Food colors are edible and non-toxic if used in very small amounts in the hamster diet or when coloring toys in the cave.  This is why some owners have decided that food color could be used to put small dots on your hamsters so they can distinguish them. For example, one hamster will have a blue dot and the other a red one. Another method that some owners use is dyeing the tail of your hamster. Previously, this method was questionable for use because food coloring contains many chemical ingredients that can cause skin irritation and various inflammations. Even today the safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. However, in modern times there are many food colors that are made from natural ingredients, and there are simple instructions on the Internet for making your own natural food colors. For example, carrot or paprika is used for orange, spinach for green, strawberries or raspberries for pink or for red color beets. Such natural colors are safe to use on the hamster. If you just put a dot on your hamster with natural food colors, your hamster should have no consequences. Some owners recommend that the same can be done with a permanent marker. However, hamsters are constantly cleaning and licking, so they would surely lick a dot made with a permanent marker at some point, which would certainly be poisonous for them. The hamster might not die, but he could easily experience poisoning and get sick. By no means put permanent markers because, in addition to being intensely fragrant, they contain figures of chemical ingredients that can be poisonous, but also irritate hamsters skin. However, if you have two hamsters and cannot distinguish them, there is no need to label both hamsters with food colors, but only label one. You will know which hamster has a dot and which does not. Also if you opt for food coloring you will have to repeatedly label the hamsters with a dot because the food color will be constantly rinsed off. If you notice that the hamster has any reaction at the place where you put the food coloring, immediately stop using food coloring to distinguish the hamster and turn to one of the safer methods. 2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster Although the method with food colors is safe to use today if you use natural food coloring, there are also simpler ways to distinguish hamsters. A safe and easy way to distinguish hamsters is to definitely cut a small piece of hair from one of them. Some owners usually cut hamsters’ hair because their hair grows too much, so it is full of food and dirt. Haircutting a pet is very simple, and all you need are good scissors. To cut your little five, or in this case, cut off a small piece of hair, it is best to use surgical scissors or scissors for children. Surgical scissors are very sharp so you will simply be able to cut off all the hair you want with one stroke. If you use scissors for children, they have a rounded tip that will prevent injuries even if the hamster twitches and is restless during the haircut. It is best to cut a piece of hair on the upper part of the hamster’s body so that the cut is noticeable and so that you can immediately distinguish it from another hamster. It is easiest to cut a hamster if it is done by two people at the same time. One person needs to gently hold the hamster to calm him down. The other person should use both hands to cut a piece of hamster’s hair without injuring it. Use one hand to hold the hamster’s hair while you will use the other hand to cut it. It is best to hold the chunk of hair between your middle and index finger and then to cut it past it so as not to injure the hamster. If the hamster trusts you and is fairly calm in your arms, you don’t have to seek the help of another person. Grab the hamster in one hand and play with it until it calms down. When it calms down, take scissors and carefully cut a piece of hair in a visible place and the job is done. If your hamsters are spirited and you can’t tire them out or you are afraid that you might hurt them if you cut a piece of hair yourself, it is best not to do it. Take one of your hamsters to a vet that will cut off a piece of your hamster’s hair in just a few seconds without hurting him. There is a possibility that they will charge you for it, but it is certainly better to pay for that vet than to hurt your hamster. 3. Put hamsters in different cages To distinguish hamsters, perhaps the easiest way is to put them in different cages. If for some reason, you do not want to use any of the above methods, it may be easiest for you to place the hamsters in separate cages that you will arrange differently or to place a name tag on each. That way you will know at all times which hamster it is and you will not be able to replace them. Unless of course, you let them both out of their cages at the same time. If you put them back in the wrong cages, you will notice that they are behaving confused and that they are not used to being in that cage so you will quickly notice your mistake. This solution in some cases is not only desirable but also necessary. Most hamsters are very territorial animals that love solitude and their space. If you want to keep hamsters in the same cage, the best option is to take a Dwarf hamster that can live in pairs with other members of its species. Moreover, they even enjoy their company. But it can also happen to them that over time they stop getting along and start bullying each other. Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, have to live alone. These hamsters only meet to mate and the rest of their lives must be kept separate. If you put two Syrian hamsters in the same cage, they will start to stress very quickly and they will fight, which can end in the death of one of the hamsters and serious injuries to the other. The golden rule for hamsters is to never, ever mix different hamster species in the same cage. If you want hamsters to live together, if they get along well it is best to keep siblings together to avoid fights. If you are taking hamsters from different nests try to get to know them as soon as possible to get along as well as possible. Once they are older than eight weeks they are very likely to react badly to one another. In addition, make sure you have a large enough cage for each hamster to have space for themselves and that you have more than one feeding area to be able to feed on their own food bowls and water bottles. No matter how hard you try, sometimes hamsters just won’t get along with each other. In these cases, hamsters will often fight or bully one another which can be very dangerous and even deadly to one of them. If you have two of the same hamsters living together in the cage observe well how they behave, whether they get along and whether there are any problems. Living in an environment where hamsters are constantly fighting and harassing each other can be very stressful so rest assured that none of your hamsters will be happy. In this case, it will be necessary to separate the hamsters into different cages. This will ultimately help differentiate hamsters, but it will also make their lives more beautiful and peaceful. 4. Study your hamsters’ personality You constantly observe your hamsters to find the slightest difference. You try and try, but you still can’t find the differences that would help you to know which hamster is which. Physical appearance is simply not a thing that can help you because your hamsters look identical. But if you study them well you will notice that hamsters do not behave identically. As much as they look the same as humans, hamsters have different personalities. One of them, for example, will be shy, will often spend time in the cottage, and will run away every time you give him food. The other will be brave and will like to cuddle, will spend a lot more time outside the house, and will be more open to contact with you. Hamster’s personality depends on the species of hamster, how tame they are, and do they like to have friends in the cave. For example, Syrian hamsters quickly develop a relationship with the owner and are in a very friendly mood. However, they like to be alone and are very aggressive towards other hamsters so you cannot keep them with others. According to the behavior they show towards you, but also, in general, the habits and behavior they show in the cage, you will be able to notice the behaviors according to which hamsters differ. Place in the cave two different feeding bowls and two different water bottles. Since hamsters are fairly territorial animals even when they live together they are very likely to drink from different water bottles and eat from different feeders. If it is easier for you, record their habits and notice if they repeat some behaviors and if they do some things that are specific only to them. For example, it could be carrying food to a certain part of the cage or sleeping in a specific place. It is also very important to observe how your identical hamsters get along. It can happen that hamsters will not get along best and will cause stress. If you hear them fighting or see injuries on one of them, don’t wait for the situation to calm down. The hamsters will just keep fighting more and more until they get completely angry and kill each other. So you can be left without both hamsters because they can easily die from injuries. By studying their personalities and behaviors you will notice in time if something is happening and you can easily prevent such events if you separate them into two different cages. If the hamsters look exactly the same, they will most often be hamsters from the same litter so you should have no problems with fights and bullying, but you never know with their personalities and primitive instincts. Personality can be a great indicator and help you distinguish which hamster you are at any time. For this, you will need a lot of patience, paper and pencil, and the interesting company of your little pets. This way you can get to know your pets very well, and you will feel like a real scientist studying animal behavior. If you have children, be sure to include them in this activity because they will learn everything about hamsters. Besides, it will certainly be interesting to them to notice new things about their pets every day. 5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters This method may not be completely creative, but it will certainly help you differentiate your hamsters in the long run. Besides that, this method can be very interesting for you and especially for your children if you make it a real detective job. Your main task is to find a difference between hamsters. While your hamsters may seem exactly the same at first, there are small differences that can help you differentiate them. However, to find these differences you need to study the bodies of your hamsters well and look for any spot that deviates from the usual fur color or some irregularity. Even when you spot spots on both hamsters, observe if they are exactly the same shape and if they are in exactly the same place. It can happen that the spot on one is just a little bit higher or lower than on the other hamster. For example, when it comes to White WInter hamsters, it often happens that it is difficult to find differences between two completely identical all-white hamsters. In such situations, pay attention to detail. Does one of the hamsters have a slightly shorter or longer tail than the other? Does the hamster perhaps have some spot or any irregularity on its tail or on the rest of its body that could help you distinguish them? The owners of the looking hamsters themselves state that it was precisely these small details that enabled them to distinguish hamsters at all times. In addition, when you study two hamsters of the same species for a long time, you notice some details that you did not see at first. For example, one of the hamsters has a slightly different head shape, a slightly different ear shape, or a more protruding muzzle. One of the hamsters may be barely noticeably larger than the other or be a shade lighter or darker in color. These are all little things that you will notice over time. To identify which hamster it is, take a good look at the color of their eyes. Hamsters can also have different eye shades and you can differentiate them accordingly. If there are no obvious differences and you can’t find any difference even after a long study, it’s best to turn to study their personalities and behavior to help you differentiate them. If this is not possible then turn to the method of using food coloring or cutting the piece of their hair. One of these methods will surely help you to easily tell your hamsters apart. [...] Read more...
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing Noises
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing NoisesHamsters may be bite-sized but, thanks to their upkeep demands, they are more than a handful. Taking care of the little furballs is almost a full-time job sometimes. Doing everything correctly might not even be enough though, and a myriad of strange things can pop up seemingly out of nowhere.  Today we take a deep-dive into one of these problems: strange breathing noises. We explore some of the frequent problems and hamster quirks that may result in little Penfold producing unusual (and worrying) sounds.   Table of Contents Toggle1. Coughs and colds2. Respiratory infection and allergies3. Hibernation4. Behavioral 1. Coughs and colds If your little pet suddenly wakes up one morning with ghastly sounding wheezes, sneezes, and generally labored breathing, he may be reeling from a case of the sniffles. Of course, it may be more serious so we always recommend a quick visit to a veterinarian…just to be sure.  However, in most cases, there’s no need to worry because it’s probably the flu or a cough. Maybe you left the window by his or her cage open a touch too long the previous day. Maybe your mom (who’s also coming down with the flu) came into your room earlier to change the hamster’s water after touching her nose. Yes, hamsters can just as easily catch colds as we can, and from people or other pets. Coughs are usually innocuous and of little consequence. They come and go as randomly as they do with humans. There’s no reason to worry if the cough clears up in a day or two. Any longer than that though, and it could be a hint at something a bit more serious. A quick trip to the vet wouldn’t hurt in this case. You can identify a cold in your hamster by listening to its breathing, and observing its nose for excess wetness. What you want to do in this scenario is to isolate the hamster from any other pets you have. This could save you from the inconvenience of caring for more animals. It could also save your other pets’ lives if it turns out to be a more serious illness.  Try to keep the hamster warm and make it feels safe with soothing talk. One thing you can do is place a hot water bottle (with an appropriate temperature) underneath the hamster’s bedding or cage. The majority of hamster species originate from tropical to desert climes, which means that they are not big fans of the cold. Always try to keep your pet’s cage environment in a range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Nudge it to eat something (break it down yourself when you need to) and make sure to consistently hydrate. We recommend that you use a water dropper to help your hamster keep its fluids up. A syringe can also be used for this but be EXTREMELY careful with the plunger. A hamster’s mouth is incredibly tiny so any slightly excessive quantities or pressure could prove harmful. If you have transferred the hamster to a temporary cage, you should clean his or her regular cage thoroughly to disinfect it. Don a trusty pair of latex gloves and get to work.  Change the bedding, get rid of all waste, and scrub the cage vigorously. Use a bleach-based solution (approximately one part bleach, nine parts water) to do this. Take care to rinse the cage properly so as not to expose the hamster to harmful fumes.   2. Respiratory infection and allergies Hamsters can easily fall victim to a myriad of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. These frequently present themselves through symptoms like heavy breathing, wheezing, and clicking noises.  Sneezing is another symptom to look out for with these illnesses. Allergies are not uncommon for hamsters either, and susceptible individuals can have their reactions triggered by almost anything. While a mildly drafty room might not seem like a big deal for you, it is a serious hazard for your little rodent friend. As stated above, hamsters need relatively warm temperatures for them to be comfortable.  Prolonged exposure to a draft, combined with the inability to burrow underground for warmth (because of being in a cage), results in an increased risk of serious pneumonia. While this disease is usually treatable in humans, it is much more devastating for a rodent’s tiny respiratory system.  Your hamster will literally be clawing for each and every breath, with raspy wheezes. At this point, you will be in a race against time. Your best bet is to rush to the vet but that might not be enough. Chronic bronchitis is an illness that is usually associated with smokers. I know times can get stressful for anybody but I highly doubt that your little hamster is lighting up under the cover of darkness. Yet hamsters can get lung disease, resulting in irritating coughs and wheezy breathing. Causes are unclear, but it may be an allergic reaction or simply a genetic defect.  Captive hamsters have been subjected to inbreeding for generations. As pet merchants sought to make hamsters as cute and docile as possible, a wide range of genetic problems (including propensity towards respiratory diseases) was passed on and on. Hamsters are also prone to other smokers’ disease…emphysema. A National Institute of Health (NIH) study even used hamsters as models for the effects of emphysema and chronic bronchitis in people. Once again, genetic problems are the likeliest cause of most cases. If your hamster has a lineage that traces back to areas exposed to alpha radiation (such as uranium or halogen mining towns), it might be at risk of developing lung cancer at some point.  This first develops as a series of tumors along the trachea and the bronchi. These cause the animal to cough and make unusual clicking noises. Eventually, the lungs will gradually break down. In these cases, little can be done but to make your sweet little pets’ last days as comfortable as possible. Your vet will be your guide through this difficult period. 3. Hibernation One day you might find your hamster face down and lying lifeless in his cage, just hours after you last saw him as his usually sprightly self at breakfast. Before you channel the waterworks and cancel your week’s appointments, realize that he or she might just be hibernating. A dead giveaway (no pun) is the slight and soft breathing. Hibernation for domestic hamsters is a little different than for wild animals who also tuck in for the winter. The likelihood of a hamster hibernating depends on a few factors.  Most hamsters have had that instinct erased from their genetic memories thanks to selective breeders (who, doubtlessly, did not want the hassle of selling pets that sleep for a third of the year). However, if yours is still in touch with its wild roots, so to speak, the drive to hibernate may still lie dormant. The second factor depends on the environment. If temperatures drop low enough, your hamster’s dormant instincts may kick in and make him or her start preparing for hibernation. 4. Behavioral Some breathing noises that your hamster will make from time to time might seem strange, but, more often than not, these are just part of natural behavior displays. One common noise that might worry first-time hamster owners is the clicking noise. This sound is extremely sharp and incessant in some cases. If you’re part of the worry brigade, we’re here to tell you that you can relax this time.  Hamsters usually make the clicking noise when they are frightened or in an aggressive mood. Who knew that hamsters can get tired of all the kisses and cuddles? Well, now you do. When your hamster just wants some alone time or is feeling angry or afraid, he will issue this incessant clicking as a warning for you to back off.  Sometimes your hamster will make squeaky sounds while it is asleep. This is also normal and no need for alarm. Like you and me, hamsters are capable of having engaging dreams that demand real-world re-enactment.  Maybe he or she dreams about scurrying through the bushes with other little hamsters. Maybe it’s a dream about a hamster wheel made of cheese. Who knows? Some people talk in their sleep sometimes so is it crazy to imagine that some hamsters do the same? Hamsters are also known to snore, which is probably the cutest thing I can think of. A hard day on the hamster wheel can really do a number on your fluffy pal, so don’t be surprised if he hits the pillow just as hard. Snoring is more common in older hamsters but babies (or pups) are also known to do it, which is as precious as you can imagine. [...] Read more...
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (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.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...