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Old 07-07-2021, 01:21 AM   #1
madkatherine
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
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Default Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

Hi guys!
I recently got a robo hammy with an initial intention to foster him and find a new good home.
He was very scared, which is understandable, but also from day one he would run super fast in tiny circles. It's been 4 days and it seems that he is a bit calmer now but he still does that.

So I was wondering if this is indeed some neurological disorder or he is just too stressed?

Background info I know about him:
- about 5-6 months old
- purchased with his brother but - surprise - they started fighting
- lived in a tiny cage, with a tiny wheel, no substrate, sand or toys
- the diet was plain and lacked protein
- the family who owned him also has a child who wasn't particularly gentle with the hammy

Current setup:
- As it was supposed to be a temporary housing, the cage is on a smaller side (50x80cm) and a bit bare to my standards (feeling very bad about it now )
- 20 cm of Aspen+carefresh bedding in the biggest part of the cage
- Sand bath, wheel, three hides, one tunnel, a few chew toys

Some positive dynamics I'm seeing compared to days 1-2:
- He learned to use his sand bath!
- and started to use his wheel
- also, I saw him burrowing a bit
- He does eat both his seed mix and veggies

After observing him, I was pretty sure it was neurological, but also thinking maybe the setup is just too boring fir him? WDYT?

Here's a video of his behaviour VID_20210706_233306.mp4 - Google Drive

Last edited by madkatherine; 07-07-2021 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 07-07-2021, 05:51 AM   #2
Ria P
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

First of all, a 50cmx80cm habitat isn't what i would consider to be on the small side, especially not for a hamster who has lived in a tiny cage. Too much space can be overwhelming at first.

I currently have a foster Robo who lived in an under bed storage box and when i moved him into a 77cmx47cm cage he was scared by it so i moved him in a smaller tank where he was much more comfortable. Now he's ready for a bigger habitat because he has grown in confidence.

I don't think that your set up is boring either but you can always add more as you go. Most Robos i've ever had liked to have two wheels, an upright one and a flying saucer and they use both.

I'm also inclined to think that your Robo's circling is a neurological disorder but i'm not an exotics vet so i'm guessing.
I'd give your Robo time to settle in and get used to his new surroundings. It can take a few weeks for a stressed or traumatised hamster to start to relax.
If the circling continues or gets worse, i'd ask a specialist vet for advice.
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Old 07-24-2021, 03:20 PM   #3
GhostBella
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

As a qualified Animal behaviourist im going to give you my opinion. The one thing I picked up on is that you said 'he's slightly calmer but still does it' now in my eyes if it was all neurological the behaviour would stay the same but would usually get worse with other noticeable repetitive behaviours, I think its phycological! Hes probably been kept in a tiny cage his whole life with no wheel or outside cage playtime and running round in circles is what hes had to do to exercise and has now become a habit. Defiantly get a bigger cage with more levels but beware that if hes been kept in a tiny space suddenly putting him in a large one might stress him. It would be like a human thats been kept in one room there whole life and never been outside of it, yes they would be miserable but suddenly rescuing them and bringing them out for the first time would be overwhelming and hard to cope with. Whether its good or bad thats all hes known and to suddenly have lots of space will be scary and daunting for him.
What I advise is that If you can get hold of or borrow a slightly bigger cage but not as big as what he should be in swop him to it and gradually move him up into a big size cage. If not keep him in the cage hes now and let him get used to it and used to using his wheel etc, remember hes probably never seen one. Iv watched the video and im 99.99999% its not neurological its behavioural and due to the reason above I can see him stop circling go to his wheel, get out circle again about 4 times round then stop look at the camera, circle again but slower then stop again. He can control it and is aware hes doing it, defiantly bad habit . He might never completely break the habit as its to deep set. The more stimuli hes got, the more he uses the wheel it will gradually get less and less but probably not go completly.
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:13 AM   #4
madkatherine
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

Thank you for your help guys.

He did get better, much better. He would still be skittish but completely stopped running in circles and started trusting me more.

Unfortunately, today he passed away... I am not sure what happened and I am devasted. I never had a hammy pass away in such a young age. He didn't eat his veggie during the night and appeared lethargic. I tried to offer him cooling surfaces, a fresh cucumber, water from syringe..but he passed away in my arms. I don't know what was the cause but I blame myself. I'm heartbroken
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:17 AM   #5
Amethyst_ice
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

Im really sorry to hear this. Soemtimes there are other things going on inside we can't see and their bodies are just so tiny. It is awful to not have a reason, many of us have been there. Sending love, play well little one
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Old 07-25-2021, 05:59 AM   #6
Ria P
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

I am also very sorry to hear this but try not to blame yourself.

What else could you have done for him? You did everything you could. Sometimes they die long before their time and all we can do is to remember that they were given the chance to experience the kind of life a hamster deserves. Without you, this would never have happened.

There are so many hamsters out there living in awful conditions and waiting for someone like you to save them and help them to a better life.
I foster and rehome as well sometimes but now and again a little soul just doesn't make it, no matter how hard we try.
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Old 10-10-2021, 12:37 AM   #7
GhostBella
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Default Re: Stress, something neurological or maybe boredom?

Im sorry too hun! Look at it this way you were his end of life carer who showed him love and for the first time gave him space.
You hear storys all the time about people im hospital on deaths door yet theres something stopping them from going! That usually turns out to be a close relative and once that person has been the person passes away.

Same thing. Hes obviously had a terrible life probably never given the right food, never even had a wheel and the stress and psychological trauma he's had to live with. Then you rescued him and gave him everything hes ever wanted and was finally happy n could at last let go!

There are so many end of life hamsters/rats / mice etc that deserve to go out happy that if you can emotionally cope with it is a wonderful rewarding thing to do
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