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Old 08-22-2018, 03:45 AM   #1
donnahull
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Default Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

We got a pair of dwarf hamsters a month ago and I'm concerned that one of them is not putting on any weight. Pepper is always eating and looks like a normal fat hamster (not that I have any experience of what a normal hamster should look like). He's plenty active at night and coat is shiny.
Salt on the other hand is a skinny wee thing. His coat, etc all looks healthy and hes super active - whizzing about all over the place. But I don't think hes put on a scrap of weight since we got him.
They share a cage, but they're not fighting or being territorial about the food or environment.

I noticed that they were being very picky about the food - they were selectively eating the same bits from the bowl, and always leaving certain bits. This is what we always get left with.
Webp.net-resizeimage.jpg

I was using P@H muesli but have introduced Burgess Dwarf Hamster Harvest. Should I be concerned, is he getting enough nutrition? Or should I swap to a nugget food? Or is it ok for a hamster to be skinny?

Last edited by donnahull; 08-22-2018 at 03:51 AM. Reason: pict too big
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:02 AM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

Most hams tend to leave the pellets in the food, they generally do ok with the Burgess dwarf food even if they don't eat the pellets so I wouldn't worry too much about that. YOu could try them with Bunny HamsterDream Expert which has more variety & is more natural too so they may eat more of it.

Even though you may not see any problems around food when they're together normally if one is putting on weight & the other is not it is a sign that the larger one is preventing the other from getting enough food, remember they do eat mostly from the hoard & one may prevent the other from making a hoard or getting food from it, in this situation it's generally better to separate so the smaller one has a chance to grow & thrive.

ETA Sorry I linked to the wrong food! I meant this one.
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Last edited by cypher; 08-22-2018 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:24 AM   #3
alpacassei
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

How much do they weigh? Were they the same size when you bought them or has salt always been smaller?

It can be hard to tell if they’re being territorial over food sometimes so I recommend having two bowls or scatter feeding just in case (plus scatter feeding is more fun for them!).

I’ve found that dwarf hamsters will generally avoid eating biscuit/nuggets so I’d stick to the Burgess mix as thats one of the best dwarf mixes available. You could also introduce fresh veggies, chicken, herb mixes, etc to their diet if you’re concerned they’re not getting enough nutrients.

Honestly even if there’s no signs of territorial behaviour, it would be better to seperate them if Salt deosn’t start gaining weight just so his health and food/water intake can be better monitered.

I had a similar situation with my Stephano. He’s always been very small for a Russian hamster (40g compared to his cage mate’s 63g). He ate well and was very active, no food aggression or territorial behaviour with him and his cagemate Francisco. Eventually they were seperated but Stephano’s always remained very slim despite being healthy and eating well. He turned 2 the other day!

Sometimes it can just be a result of poor genetics, especially since all pet shop Russians’ are Hybrids or 2 different sepcies (winter whites + campbells).


Just a thought but cage/toys do they have? They both sound very happy and healthy but sometimes hamsters don’t eat properly if they’ve depressed or bored from not having many toys to stimulate them or haven’t got vey large living spaces. I’m sure that’s not the case but its worth considering every possibility.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:55 AM   #4
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

There isn’t a rush to separate so maybe wait until they’ve been on Burgess for a bit and see how they do - Salt may well just be fussy and p@h mix isn’t the best. Definitely scatter feed and I’d provide more food too. You can try bumping up Salts protein intake too see if that helps. Always difficult when there’s no other fighting signs, I also had this issue with a rescue pair but ended up separating as one was enormous and the other was also skinny! Turned out for the better. Good luck with them both keep us updated!
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:45 PM   #5
donnahull
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

Thanks for the replies. The boys are currently in a P@H large cage - but after being on here I have a Barney ordered and should be with us at the weekend. We also take them both out each day into their playpen. Both the cage and playpen have lots of toys, tunnels, etc.

I've been scatter feeding chicken, seeds, fresh veg. When I have them out individually I offer treats (that they both take). I also have 2 feeding bowls - I've seen both hammies using both bowls. I'll have to try weighing them.

I do see Salt drinking water, so I have no concerns about that. And when hes been out in the playpen hes found himself a dark corner and emptied his cheeks out. So he is getting food.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:16 PM   #6
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

Good that he seems to be eating. Do weigh Salt every few days so you can get more of an idea on what’s happening. He might just be a small hamster and one that isn’t particularly into food which isn’t uncommon. Hopefully them being on Burgess now will help the situation. You do need to keep a very close eye on what he’s eating though and if there’s any new signs (nervousness around the other hamster etc) that start cropping up.
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Old 08-23-2018, 01:48 AM   #7
donnahull
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

I weighed them last night. Pepper is 67g but Salt is 40g! I really don't want to have to separate them if I can help it, but don't want a sick/stressed hamster. I'm assuming I can't separate them for a couple of days and then put them back together?
I'll weigh them every couple of days to check on him.
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Old 08-23-2018, 02:21 AM   #8
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

No you can’t separate for a bit unfortunately. 40g is small but not excessively skinny or anything - and yes Pepper is on the larger side. You could separate now if you’re worried but like I said there is no rush to at the minute. You can see if his weight changes over a week or two and monitor them carefully. Obviously if it drops, you’d know what to do. If there really is a problem between them, things can easily escalate at some point so don’t be too alarmed if that does happen.
Has Salt been eating out of the food bowl or just taking it to the food stash? Also do you have a photo of Salt? Would be helpful to see his proportions.
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:40 AM   #9
donnahull
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

I watched them today in the playpen, Salt found a little corner and emptied his hoard into it - Pepper immediately went over and ate it. I suspect that may be happening more than I am seeing, so Pepper is getting too much and Salt not enough. I made 2 playpens and put Salts hoard into an egg box. Hes currently curled up in the egg box asleep. Pepper is back in the cage.
I don't have a good pic that captures him - he's too fast This one was taken last week.
IMG_20180813_214046_opt.jpg
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:58 AM   #10
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Dwarf Hamster not putting on weight

Not encouraging that Pepper ate Salt’s stash - Youre right that is probably normal behaviour for them. He really does look skinny doesn’t he. It is worrying as you really only see a fraction of what goes on in their life especially when in the playpen they can act so different. It is completely up to you but from that photo he does look too skinny as opposed to small to me - I would personally make the decision to separate about now, but you know your boys best. They’re still young and it really is important Salt gets all the nutrition he needs and with Pepper there I’m not sure it’s happening. It is a shame as otherwise they seem to get on well! But keeping pairs is always a bit of a gamble and no two are the same. Seems like more pairs are separated than remain together.
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