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Old 06-12-2019, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default russian hamster circling and twirling

Any advice about my Russian hamster Snowball? He's male, 1 year 10 months old and 2 weeks ago he started running round in circles and twirling, falling over and he seems disorientated and hyper/manic. He's been to the vet who ruled out an ear infection and best guess was a tumour in his brain effecting the nerves. I took him back today as there has been no change . He spent about an hour in his carry case circling. Obviously it is difficult to diagnose or treat a small hamster. She was concerned about how manic he was and said that it was like a compulsion. Advice was if he was doing this all the time he would be best put down. But as he is not we're not doing that. He still stops to sleep which he does most of the time and he eats and grooms himself. Any ideas? I'm just keeping him comfy. Funny how its not changing in any direction.
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: russian hamster circling and twirling

Check out YouTube erinsanimals. She had a hamster awhile ago who twirled. If yours is sleeping, drinking and eating, it may be you just live with the twirling.

You could try distraction in case it is boredom related. Scatter feeding, tunnels, different chewing things like whimzees (dog chew that hamsters can have and most seem to like) .
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: russian hamster circling and twirling

CMB's advice is good. It may be that your hamster does it more when under stress. It is usually some kind of neurological thing, whatever the cause. And a vet visit can be stressful so he may have been worse at that time.

Is your vet an exotic vet? It might be worth having another opinion with an exotic vet - they know much more about hamsters - and if you read the list of people at the vets and their little bios, you can ask for one particular vet if they seem to specialise in hamsters or "small furries". I am just thinking that a vet experienced in hamsters, may be able to prescribe something that would help and maybe give a diagnosis as well. There aren't many medicines for hamsters - the general ones are Baytril (antibiotic for infection) and Metacam (anti-inflammatory/pain reliever). The vet will know whether Metacam is likely to help or not. You can put it in soft food and they tend to like it, rather than stressing them with syringe feeding.

As well as distraction with scatter feeding I think it's important not to cause too much stress from cleaning - so he has stability and familiarity, so avoid big clean outs.

They don't need weekly clean outs (if you do them). Giving him a lot of substrate and a sand bath/dish (if he doesn't have that already), means the cage will stay clean and dry a lot longer and you can just "spot clean" mostly for a longer time and change the sand (they often use a sand bath as a toilet). I would also leave his nest and hoard alone - they can be left for really quite a long time, if not pee'd in. So if he doesn't pee in her nest usually then just leave it. If you put out a pile of torn up strips of plain white toilet paper in the cage, he may take some to refurbish his nest. I find they just refurbish it themselves and chuck out the odd bit and take in new paper to refurbish it.

Assume you know it needs to be Chinchilla bathing sand (not dust). Although some people use childrens play sand. I prefer the Chinchilla sand and tub lasts quite a while.

So avoid doing big clean outs - leave the substrate as long as you can. The wheel or any other toys that need cleaning, can be done at a separate time, as and when necessary. Toys etc often don't need doing very often at all. Wheel - I don't superclean the wheel Maybe give it a wipe round if it's a bit manky and then give it a full wash after a month or two if necessary.

So something always smells familiar. When changing the substrate you can also add a bit of the old substrate on top that is clean and not whiffy and that can help it smell familiar too, to avoid stressing him.

But if you can give about 4 to 5" of substrate (or even more) then it lasts a lot longer.

Last edited by Serendipity7000; 06-13-2019 at 02:51 AM. Reason: Changed she to he!
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: russian hamster circling and twirling

Hi. Thanks for replies. I will check what vets may specialise in hamsters. Will also look at that video. he does seem to be worse if stressed. he has a large cage so doesn't seem to be boredom. He'sok when asleep. he was out his nest this morning unusually so I gave him a little pet. It's just very mysterious.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: russian hamster circling and twirling

Have a look into stargazing, its a neurological disorder that can cause spinning/circling as well as the classic flipping backwards.
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