My friend called me this morning and told me her sweet hamster pet, Bluebelle, has died. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with her and it really makes me wonder, why do hamsters die so easily? I decided to find out.
Why do hamsters die so easily? Hamsters die easily because there are so many hazards in their lives. The three main causes of death in hamsters are disease, injuries and accidents. Many hamsters die because they get stuck in small places, fall from height, get ill, get in a fight or have a human related accident.
Why do hamsters die so easily?
The three main reasons why hamsters die so easily are:
As sad as it is, your hamster can become ill and die.
There is a long list of illnesses they can get, and sometimes quick action and veterinarian care can save them, other times it can’t.
As with all illnesses the cause can be viral, bacterial or fungal.
Diarrhea (also called ‘wet tail’) and constipation are common digestive system problems your hamster might face, and this is normally caused by bacteria.
Your hamster could also have worms like pinworms and tapeworms.
Pneumonia could be an issue which can be caused by bacteria, a virus and/or other infectious agents.
On top of this there are reproductive disorders, skin disorders, nutritional disorders bone and muscle disorders and the list goes on. And on. And on.
A study on disease in hamsters was done by the universities of Pennsylvanian and Michigan State, which you can find here.
It is best to get to know your hamster and keep an eye on any strange behavior. Does your hamster respond to you? Is the morning stretch still going? Is your hamster eating and drinking? If your hamster is not his or her happy self, a trip to the Vet might be the best thing to do.
Personally, I prefer to check my hamster out when she’s not herself, just to be sure. As hamsters are such little animals, it can be hard to decide what can be wrong, so your Vet will be the best place to go.
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Injuries in hamsters normally occur when they are left to roam around the room freely. There are normally many hiding places, holes and corners to explore and get stuck in.
Sometimes hamsters get hurt in their cage, especially when they’re climbing up the cage bars or when toys are not hamster friendly and actually hurts them or worse kill them.
But above all if you have more than one hamster, fights can break out and seriously injure one of your hamsters, if not both.
Hamsters are not necessarily delicate for their size, but they are vulnerable as force is easily put upon them by humans, many times larger than their little body can cope with.
This is particularly true with young children who can’t always feel when they are squeezing too hard. Rough playtime can also be an issue or fighting over who can hold the hamster next.
When you let your hamster roam around on the floor you also need to take extreme when moving around so you don’t accidentally squash your beloved pet.
Why have a hamster as a pet if they die so easily?
Hamsters make cute and lovable pets, and it can be very concerning when they look poorly or die. There are about 20 different types of hamsters you can have as a pet. While many hamsters live out their expected lifespan of about 2,5 years, there are plenty which don’t quite make it there. So yes, why not chose a different pet with a higher chance of living to old age?
Well in my view hamsters are just really cute.
They can be trained and with time become very good companions. They recognize you and often like to be held. It’s nice to know someone else is there and watching your hamster playing is much fun. If you live in a small home, then a smaller pet can make a lot of sense too.
Hamsters are also great pets for people on a small budget, don’t have a lot of time or who haven’t had a pet before and want to see if it’s for them.
So, all in all I believe there are lots of very good reasons, besides the obvious cuteness of hamsters, to choose a hamster as a pet.
I want to talk about why hamsters die (so easily) and what you can do to help them live as long as possible as hamsters make lovely pets and companions.
How can you prevent your hamster from dying easily?
In my opinion, many hamster deaths can be prevented by pet owners being educated about their chosen pet.
Which toys are safe to play with? How to prevent illnesses being brought in the home. Habits and needs of hamsters as well as knowing how to handle them.
It’s important to find out what behavior is normal and which behavior is not. Is my hamster sick or hibernating, burrowing or just having a bad hair day? Read up on what you can expect from your hamster so you don’t have to worry unnecessarily but can act promptly when needed.
- Know your hamster
Make sure you know your hamsters’ habits and behavior. What does he or she do when woken up? How often does your hamster eat and drink? What are his or her favorite places to chill. How and when does your hamster respond to you? These are all things you want to find out and remember, so you instantly recognize when something is out of the ordinary so you can keep an eye on it or take immediate action.
- Food and Drink
Feed your hamster well and make sure water is always clean and fresh.
Also know what foods can make your hamster ill and keep it away from your pet.
- Keep its surroundings safe and clean
Having a safe area for your hamster to roam when out of its cage is important so your pet does not get stuck, lost or hurt.
Having a clean cage is important to prevent disease both for your hamster as well as for you.
- Take your hamster to the vet when needed
When in doubt, get the vet involved. While they can’t always help you, they are often able to tell you what’s wrong with your little friend and more often than not, they can help with treatment, advice and medication.
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Lastly, I would like to point out that sometimes it can also feel like hamsters die easily because hamsters can have sudden deaths. These are often unexplained and are sad for the pet owner.
Nobody wants their pet to drop dead out of nowhere and doubt often creeps up whether all care was taken and what went wrong.
Point is that often this is not the fault of anyone. Yes, your hamster can drop dead when extremely stressed, but more likely, your pet already has underlying health issues which were not known.
Most small pets have minimal checks when they are little and inherited issues often only come up after death.
Some sudden deaths are stress related and could be a heart attack or stroke.
Sometimes your pet is just older than you realize. The average age of hamsters is 18 months (about 1 and a half years) to 24 months (about 2 years) but no longer than 3 years. That’s really not long.
Disease is not always spotted, and it can feel that your hamster has died all of a sudden, but really the illness was taking its toll on your pet. Cancer and wet tail are sometimes overlooked for example.
Pneumonia is not always obvious either and as this can be a virus transferred to your pet when they were still at the pet shop or pet dealer, you have little chance of knowing your pet was ever at risk.
Having said all this, yes it seems that hamsters die easily. And I think it’s important to keep in mind that hamsters overall don’t have a very long expected lifespan. It’s easy to get very attached to your pet of course so it can hurt when your hamster passes.
But to sum it up, I’ve learned that by keeping your pet’s habitat clean, you keep an eye on behavior and go to the vet when this changes, you feed your hamster well, you handle it carefully and you keep it out of harm’s way, you will have done everything you can to give your hamster the best life as a pet as possible.
Don’t beat yourself up if your hamster dies earlier than expected. You know you’ve done all you could!
Why do hamsters die so early?
Unfortunately, hamsters don’t have a long lifespan. Hamsters are expected to live between 18 months (about 1 and a half years) and 3 years. Don’t let this stop you from having a hamster pet and getting attached. Hamsters make wonderful pets and just keep in mind to not take your hamster for granted. Enjoy as much precious time with your Hammie as possible!
Why do hamsters die after 2 years?
Hamsters are actually considered old at the age of two. And even when they look well and healthy to you, they could die suddenly due to old age. Hamsters have a short lifespan, with Chinese hamsters dying even younger than other hamster breeds, with an average age of 2. Hopefully your hamster will live closer to 3 years, but it’s important to know that hamsters have a short lifespan compared to humans.
Why do hamsters die so suddenly?
Sudden deaths in hamsters are upsetting and can have several causes, some are: heart attack, stroke, old age, undiagnosed illness or extreme stress. Often your hamster seems happy and healthy one minute and the next minute they’re no longer.
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Why do hamsters die from nothing?
While it might feel like your hamster died from nothing, there is normally either an underlying illness which has gone undiscovered, or your hamster might have died from old age. There are many things your hamster can die from without any obvious symptoms.
Some of these could be cancer, stress, pneumonia, heart disease, stroke, and infections.
Why do our hamsters keep dying?
If your hamsters keep dying well before they are expected to die, then there is either something wrong with the place you bought your hamsters from or there is an issue with the living space of your hamsters. It could be that your hamsters get infected from their birthplace and bring this home. It could also be that an infection has been brough into your hamsters living space from one of the hamsters you have had, and it keeps transferring from hamster to hamster. This means that your hamsters home could be infected and needs to be thoroughly cleaned before another hamster will be brought home.
How did my hamster die?
It is not always easy to find out why your hamster died. If there are no obvious signs when you check your hamster, you’ll need to ask your vet to do an autopsy to find the reason of death. Unfortunately, there is not guarantee you will receive a definite answer, and of course there will be a fee attached as it’s unlikely this will be included in your pet insurance policy.
Can hamsters die from stress?
Yes, hamsters can die from stress. This would either be instant death due extreme stress or a prolonged period of stress which leads to illness and ultimately death.
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What do you do with a dead hamster?
Most people find a place in their yard to bury their hamster, others have their hamster cremated and some people put their hamster in the trash. You will need to decide for yourself which of these are best for yourself and your hamster.
How do I stop my hamster from dying?
Once your hamster dying, there is often not much you can do other than to comfort your hamster as well as you can. However, if your hamster is acting differently to normal and is lethargic, off balance or seems otherwise poorly, you should take your hamster to the vet and have him checked out as soon as you can.
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