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Old 01-09-2017, 01:57 PM   #1
beckybirmingham
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Default Hamster keeps going into hibernation

I have a russian dwarf hamster called Winnie, she is 10 months old.

Since the 26th of December she has gone into hibernation, the third time was this evening where I had to spend some time waking her up in her house which was placed on a hot water bottle. I have done some research which has advised that her home needs to be in a place that is above 18c, we have moved her cage which was in a cooler part of the house to a room which was 19c and today I went to check on her and again she is hibernating.

I am really worried I am not doing the right thing here, we spend around 20 minutes waking her up and then she comes back to normal.

Can anyone offer tips or advice with how to avoid this or how we should care for her to make her more warmer in what is actually a warm room anyhow. My logical thinking is the amount of darkness is also causing this too, would anyone be able to help me out with greater knowledge and better care for her ?
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Old 01-10-2017, 02:51 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

Do you keep the heating on overnight as well? Maybe a little heater on low overnight, if not the central heating. Night time is when they are awake and active. It is really cold at the moment as well. She may not survive going into hibernation again (if that's what is happening).

Also does she have a big enough house to build a nest in? Or a big enough nest. Our hammy builds a huge nest in winter and packs loads of substrate in all the gaps, to keep warm. He also has a good few inches of substrate beneath his house.

If her house is a bit small try making a shoe box house. Cut the bottom out of a shoe box and a hole in the front for an entrance door and use the lid as a lift off roof (so you can check inside without taking the house out so her nest doesn't fall apart).

Putting a bendy bridge over the door will also help keep it dark inside and keep draughts out. And put a huge pile of torn up strips of plain white toilet paper out in the cage somewhere so she can take some and make her nest bigger. (it's the safest nesting material and they like pouching it and weaving it into a nest).

Ten months isn't very old and I'm guessing this is her first winter with you. We have a little oil filled radiator we leave on low overnight in the room our hamster is in. You don't want anything that isn't safe left on (eg radiant rings) You can also get these

It's a microwave "hot water bottle" for pets. It's a hard thing in a fleece cover. I attach it to the side of our hammies cage at night with one of these! I hang it on the side of the cage instead of over a kitchen door, and the snugglesafe pad sits in the gap with the front bar holding it in place

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Premier-Hou...5TRE86WZDTFN1V

so it sits on the side of the cage next to the house area. It isn't that warm by morning, but helps - although it's no substitute for keeping the room warm - I do both.

Demonstrated on photo below!
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Old 01-10-2017, 05:00 AM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

As Serendipity says do make sure the room remains warm enough at night as well as during the day & she has plenty of shredded tissue for her nest.
If you use a snugglesafe take care not to overheat your ham, if I use them I put them on a shelf under the cage with at least a couple of inches between the heat pad & cage & never directly under the nest area.

They are sensitive to daylight changes, this is what triggers the colour change in WW's but hamsters don't hibernate so it won't be related to her going into torpor, if she continues to do this even in a warmer room I suspect there may be some underlying health issue, in spite of their small size dwarf hams are actually a little more cold tolerant than syrians are.
How is she between times, eating ok & a healthy weight?
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Last edited by cypher; 01-10-2017 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 01-10-2017, 01:39 PM   #4
squeakylittlepaws
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

What's her water intake like? 10month dwarf hamster, sleeping more than usual and hard to wake - my initial suspicion would be to check for signs of diabetes. Manageable condition if caught early.xx
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Old 01-10-2017, 02:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

Good point! Not that I know much about the signs of diabetes but dwarf hammies are prone to it.
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Old 01-10-2017, 02:13 PM   #6
beckybirmingham
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

Thank you all for your replies. Its much appreciated.

Her weight hasn't changed or the amount she is drinking. She is very active and is her usual self apart from this quite bizarre not waking up and shaking until she is put somewhere warmer situation that we describe above. However, the last time she did it she was in the same room she was in for a week , with a constant temperature so it makes sense really.

Her fur did change colour about a month ago around her face, she went a little bit more light grey.

I have put a hot water bottle under her cage for the past 24 hours but am concerned its now too hot!

I think I may take her to the vets to have her checked over to be on the safe side. The past two weeks she has become a source of constant worry!

I will research the diabetes suggestion and if anyone has any more suggestions please let me know.

Really Really appreciated everyone! x x x
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:49 PM   #7
cypher
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

You may be right to worry that the hot water bottle could be too hot for her, if the room temp is ok she could overheat which is as much of a problem as being too cold really so nothing too warm under the cage.

It is odd that she seems fine between the episodes, a health check by the vet would be worthwhile if it continues, it doesn't sound like diabetes to me tbh but I can't really guess what else it might be.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:03 AM   #8
Thin Lizzy
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

Making an appointment with the vet will help ease your worry.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:42 AM   #9
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

I hope she is ok. I haven't tried using a human hot water bottle but can imagine they can be very hot if they don't have a cover, and it's always difficult to know where to put it. I find the snugglesafe one, after it's 7 minutes in the microwave and with it's cover on - is definitely quite warm, but not hot. Having it on top of the cage seemed pretty ineffective - heat rises. Having it directly underneath, could warm the plastic and substrate too much (Coco had a good idea of standing the cage on some books and having a heat pad underneath the gap so it wasn't directly against the cage base).

My cage is quite large so I wanted the snugglesafe at the nesting end. So hung it against the bars there - it leans forward slightly and the bars also give ventilation. I think if it had been too hot there our hammy would have moved his nest elsewhere.

A lot depends on the kind of house you live in possibly and it's warmth level. A draught-free areas is important (good that you moved her ). Where we live is old and cold, no double glazing and the room is hard to keep warm without a low level of heat on day and night in winter. But I found after we moved here that I also needed a blanket on top of our hammie's cage - the sides are still open for ventilation, but even with a level of warmth there can be draughts and cold spots.

In a more modern insulated house it could get too hot with extra heating and a bottle as well - but it sounds like you have it about right. If the bottle is wrapped in a jumper or fleece blanket or something I don't think it would get too hot, the heat would be more gentle and in a certain area. A thermostat usually turns heat off when the room temperature is at 20 degrees too. Our little oil filled heater has a thermostat on - it turns on and off when the room temperature is reached/drops. It's not that exact but kind of works. At first we didn't use the thermostat and the room would be very warm and toasty in the mornings, but if it's a draughty house you have plenty of ventilation! Our hammy seemed to "sunbathe" in his spunik when it was like that!

The main thing is that they have the space to build a large nest. Having a part "subterranean" house in winter can help as well - ie the house part buried in the substrate so the substrate is packed around the outside of the house. And you can even put some on top. You could have a tube or tunnel leading down to the house entrance. Although this works best if the house has a lift off roof (a shoe box house could work like this). Then even if the room isn't that warm they are able to make a cosy space. And that should be enough, unless the temperatures are freezing at night - which they can be quite often in winter, especially early morning - and then a very low level of heat overnight will help.

From what you said about her cage being in a draughty area to begin with it does sound like she may have started to go into a torpor each time, but hopefully it is resolved now. It's bound to make you worried after it happening before as well. But if it is daytime it is normal for them to sleep quite heavily. In the evening I'd be a bit concerned if you couldn't wake her.

I find it very hard to wake our Syrian these days - he doesn't respond to sound at all and I think he has gone a bit deaf (if not totally deaf) in old age. But touching him wakes him up.

If she has recovered now, just try adjusting her cage, amounts of substrate (6" depth if you can) and a big pile of paper nesting material.

But a vet check could also rule out anything else, as Thin Lizzy says, and may give you some reassurance or spot something underlying.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:46 AM   #10
souffle
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Default Re: Hamster keeps going into hibernation

Some hamsters have a genetic disposition to doing this and once they have done it once their are much more likely to do it again and again. Unfortunately everytime they do it it causes stress on the organs as they are partially shutting down and the warming to bring them round again and the actual action of bringing them round impacts on the organs. It is likely the light - going from bright to gloomy or dark is confusing for them. Try keeping the room at a warm and even temperature and siting the cage so window light is reaching it. If this is tricky then you could use a daylight bulb and leave that on for 12hrs a day so try and keep her on an even light system. The vet won't be able to do anything to stop her doing this but they could do a health check and maybe test her urine for sugar?
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