We had an unexpected experience with our pet hamster that we would like to share because many hamster owners may not be aware that these animals are afraid of the cold and can go into hibernation. The sad thing is that many people may think their hamster is sick and just allow it to die, without understanding why they go into hibernation and how to help them get out of it.

We recently adopted our female pet hamster in mid October without any knowledge about the animal. All we knew was that this little one was at least 8 months old and is a female. She goes on the treadmill wheel constantly, even thought her body was a bit too big for it, but that’s what she enjoys doing every day. We gave her plenty of food and water and ensured the bedding for her cage is kept cleaned.

Last Saturday afternoon, we noticed she was not waking up as she usually would when we try to pet her. We knew hamsters are nocturnal but she usually wakes up to see us but today was different. Her eyes were slightly opened and when she did try to walk, her body was shaking. She kept trying to dig her head into the bedding. When we picked her up, she didn’t try to wiggle free like she normally does.

At first we thought she was sick. We did a lot of research online and thought she may be dying. But how can she be dying? Last night, she was constantly on her wheel, riding away having fun and was fully alert. What could have happened between this morning and 2PM?

When we picked her up, we noticed her body was very cold and limp – it was not hard like a dead body would be. Her breathing was very slow and shallow. Her eyes were now closed. We took her back to the pet store and they were not sure what could be wrong with our hamster. The assistant manager suggested keeping her warm and watch her over night.

After we got home, we wrapped our pet hamster in a towel to keep her warm. Her limp body was so frail and cold. Finally, we came across some helpful information online that was very helpful and we followed all the suggestions to bring her back to normal.

Fact is, hamsters needs to be warm all the time. Any sudden change in temperature for a period of time can cause these little animals to go into hibernation mode at any time, especially if they are hungry. Their body will shut itself down to preserve energy by hibernating. Therefore, it is very important to have plenty of food and water for your pet. That Saturday morning was quite cool and we didn’t have the heat on, so by 2PM, our little hamster’s body decided to switch to hibernation mode.

To help bring her out of hibernation mode, we took our hamster into a smaller bedroom with the heat turned on. We placed her on top of a heating pad, made sure it was not too hot and still had her wrapped up in a towel. We let her warm up that way for 30 minutes, then we started rubbing her body vigorously but not roughly – DO NOT shake your hamster. This is to keep her warm by helping her blood circulate plus it helps to wake her up. We kept this up for approximately 30 minutes at which she started twitching her nose and whiskers. This was a good sign. We continued calling her name and rubbing her, to wake her up. By this time, almost 1.5 hours have passed since we started with the heating pad. Her eyes started to open slightly and more twitching of her entire head. This was a very good sign.

We heated up the heating pad again and made a mixture of sugar water to give her some energy and to keep her hydrated, since she probably haven’t had any water for a long time. We put 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1 cup on water and stirred until it is fully dissolved. We used a small eye dropper to force water into her mouth. (If you do not have an eye dropper around, use a small straw. ) She drank a bit of water and became more awake.

Then, all of a sudden, she started wanting to walk out of the warm towel, so we gave her more sugar water. Within the next 15 minutes, her eyes were fully opened and started kicking when we picked her up. After another 15 minutes she seemed more awake but still weak. As soon as we placed her into her cage, she went straight for the food and started eating. We gave her a small piece of carrot to eat as it is sweet and easy for her to consume.

Another hour went by, she went on her hamster wheel a bit and then back to her food. At this point she was getting more awake and strong again. Overnight, we noticed she’s been gathering bedding and stuffing them into her little plastic house to keep warm. We placed her by the heater and she’s been back to normal every since.

Keep in mind, if your hamster doesn’t wake up after 1.5 hours, it is a good idea to call a Vet for assistance.

Should you worry about your sick hamster?

Should you worry about your hamster hibernating?

Should you worry about your hamster dying?

You decide!

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