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Old 11-07-2018, 08:53 AM   #1
Natasha95
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Default How to Care for an Aging Syrian

I have a Syrian hamster who's about 20 months old now, and he's just starting to show signs of old age. His skirt is pretty much gone; he runs a little slower on his wheel; he seems to sniff me for a lot longer now, like he doesn't recognize me; and when I open the door to his cage, he comes out and just kind of saunters around the room for a little bit before climbing back in his cage; he naps a lot more throughout the night). Other than that, he's pretty healthy. He eats normally, his teeth and nails are fine, he doesn't have any bald spots or noticeable pain or trouble breathing. I was wondering if there's anything special I need to start doing now that he is getting close to 2 years old. I know ErinsAnimals on YouTube has a few videos on caring for an older hamster, but I don't think he's at the point where he needs to eat soft foods or move to a smaller "retirement" cage. Also, is there anything I should be watching out for with him? He's never been aggressive, but could that change as he gets older?
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:57 AM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

I wouldn't be in any hurry to do or change anything just yet, you do need to keep a close eye on teeth & how they eat as they get older but if he's managing fine still no need to give anything different, if he shows signs of losing weight you can offer a little porridge now & then, they do appreciate that even if they can still eat their normal mix.
If he begins to get less agile you might need to move things in his cage so food & water are within easy reach of his nest.
Hamsters don't normally change character so if he's unlikely to become aggressive, if you do see any signs that appear aggressive it's most likely to be an indication that they are in pain.
Just keep an eye on how easily he moves & adjust things in the cage if need be, also keep a watch on eating & weight, other than that just let him do as he wants really, changing things that don't need changing could just stress him so let him guide you.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:15 PM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

Our Syrian was like that at two and U didn’t really have to change much for a few months after that. One thing to be aware of though is heights as they can be a bit less mobile particularly with back legs and could fall. I lowered everything a bit at this age so he could still use his shelf but had a much lower, less steep ramp up to it and nothing to fall onto. I don’t think there’s ever a need to move them to a retirement cage. In fact a larger cage is better when they get to the stage of needing to take levels out completely because they can still enjoy the floor space and have more toys etc at floor level.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:45 PM   #4
hamsterbasil
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

Yeah, my hammie is 2 years and 1 month now, and is definately much slower than he once was. I lowered everything, like Serendipity said. My Basil also became rather skinny about a month ago, so I started giving some porridge once a week and also some walnuts because they are good for helping them put on weight (not sure if walnuts are officially used by people, but they have worked for me- just be careful because they are quite fatty). I have some critical care at hand as well, just in case. I also had an issue with nails getting long because of his lack of activity but I solved that by adding granite and pebbles in places like under his food bowl and water.
Other than that just keep an eye on him! Sorry if that wasn't helpful x
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:16 PM   #5
Natasha95
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

Thanks for the advice! I'll keep an eye on him. I know everyone is saying that he might lose a lot of weight, but he's actually an overweight hamster to begin with at 210 grams, and with him being less active now, should I be feeding him less? I've tried giving him less food, but that seems to make him anxious and he starts chewing on things he's not supposed to chew on and chewing holes in the bags of hamster food.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

They don't all lose a lot of weight as they age although most lose some, they don't tend to overeat anyway so it's never good to cut down on food they need to have a good supply & a hoard available all the time.
He probably isn't overweight, hams vary in size a lot so he's more likely just a larger ham, he will probably eat a bit less if he does become a lot less active but you can still leave plenty of food out without worrying about it.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:35 AM   #7
Natasha95
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

That's good to hear. I'll keep feeding him like normal.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:37 AM   #8
Natasha95
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

My vet doesn't sound very knowledgeable about hamsters (even though she's the only exotics vet in my area). She told me he was overweight and could get diabetes, and that I should only be feeding him lab blocks, nothing else. She also tried to convince me that hamsters are purely herbivores and he shouldn't be eating mealworms, ever.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:46 AM   #9
cypher
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

You're right in thinking she's not well informed which is a shame, diabetes is rare in Syrians, lab blocks are far from ideal & animal protein like mealworms either in the mix or in addition to it are essential.
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Old 11-08-2018, 12:38 PM   #10
Natasha95
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Default Re: How to Care for an Aging Syrian

Don't worry, I didn't listen to her, except when she told me he was overweight, but because feeding him less stressed him out, I went back to giving him the normal amount of food. That was about a month ago.
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