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Old 10-10-2019, 01:40 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Default Hamster deaths

In June, our hamster passed away after us
having her for more than two years, so I figured she died of old age. We waited a month or so and then got a new friend. She died after only a few weeks. I thought she had been climbing and fell. She was found in the morning, laying awkwardly and gasping and died shortly after she was discovered.

We again waited a bit and then got a new friend. Last night, I came home later from work, and she was not out playing. I tried to ruffle her a bit and she didn't respond. I got her out and found her cold and limp and breathing very rarely. I figured, since the weather just turned for cold that she was hibernating, though it hadn't gotten very cold in the house. I cuddled her a bit and she increased get breathing rate and was breathing more in the chest than the abdomen, though she was still very lethargic. But in my experience (I've had a lot of hamsters), gradual rewarming is the best thing. I turned a temperature-controlled space heater on in her room but not directly facing her and gave her ample food and water, some extra bedding and left her to slowly recover. I came back a few hours later to find her completely cold and stiff. I've never heard of a hamster dying of hibernation that fast.

What is killing these hamsters? I give them everything they need and I've kept hamsters alive for years!
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:57 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 1,021
Default Re: Hamster deaths

I'm so sorry you have gone through these losses. Sometimes it can just be bad luck. Has anything else changed in the room where you have kept them e.g. fragrant candles burning, or one of those plug in smelly things? I feel a bit daft asking it but it was just what popped into my head when reading your post. Has anything changed in the cage, is there anything in the cage that you think could have caused all of this? Did you keep the items from one hamster to another or start afresh with new toys and hides etc?
I am only asking so we have more information and can possibly suggest anything to help going forward, but please bear in mind it could be absolutely nothing you are doing and just bad luck. If the hamsters are from pet shops they can have poor genetics and they can have health problems that there is no way any of us would or could know about.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:05 AM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Default Re: Hamster deaths

Yeah my first thoughts would be similar. Disease transmission through toys or the cage, environmental hazards (include carbon monoxide in this, get an alarm if you don't have one) and then just plain bad luck/ genetics.

The only real way to know cause of death is to ask a vet to do a necropsy and a) a lot of vets won't know enough about hamsters, b) would cost a fortune. Most of the time you just never know.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:34 AM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Default Re: Hamster deaths

I got rid of the porous items, and cleaned the non-porous I've. Perhaps I need to pull out the major bleach.

I've heard about the genetics and in-breeding, but I guess I'm just not sure. I work in medical research, and our mice... talk about inbred. But... maybe.

I've asked around about necropsy, cause I'm a need to know person, and not one vet has been willing. They say I have to go to the closest vet school which is about 2 hours away.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:49 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: North of England
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Default Re: Hamster deaths

I don't think bleach is necessary - I don't like it. Beaphar pet disinfectant is fine or any pet disinfectant for small animals, then rinse well. It might be an idea to get rid of any wood items, but plastic and ceramic items can just be washed or cleaned with the pet disinfectant (really rinse well). Might be an idea to get a new bag of bedding and a new bag of food.

Personally I don't think it is something infectious - your last hamster died of old age not infection - although it is possible they could have had a uti or something.

The second hamster had a fall you think - that is an accident. The last one - it could well be genetic - this is sadly very common in pet shop hamsters - it isn't just in breeding it's bad breeding - certain colours shouldn't be bred with each other. They can be born with genetic defects and die young for no known reason.

It is getting colder now though and they can be prone to go into torpor if they get too cold. Not sure where you live but we haven't even got the heating on at the moment, just a fire in the evening, so not really cold yet. Best thing for reassurance is get a digital thermometer for the room the hamster is in and make sure it doesn't go below 16 degrees and ideal is at about 20 degrees.

As you've had many hamsters you'll know about plenty of beddign and nesting material etc. Our hamster has a big house with a litter tray inside it and builds a big nest in there. He also piled substrate roudn the outside - insulation maybe.

I think you have just been very unlucky and would get your hamsters from somewhere else. The second one may also have had some genetic heart defect or something - assume your cage is set up so falls couldn't be an issue?
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