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Old 01-31-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
Ankali
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Default Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

My husband recently purchased a sweet 'Russian' dwarf as a non-breeder pet for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, within days her belly began expanding and she began 'stargazing'. For those unfamiliar with the disorders due to hybridization, stargazing is like the beginning stages of backflipping, where the hamster stands on her back legs and falls on her back, often repeatedly.
A week after arriving in our home, she gave birth to five little pinkies. Everything was going great and she was an excellent mother. She stopped stargazing and I thought perhaps it was to do with the pregnancy and not neurological after all.

The babies turned 10 days old yesterday and have started exploring. I watched them for much of the afternoon and noticed three of the babies acting strange. They would take a few steps and then freeze in a rigid hunch-back position before going limp and melting into the bedding. This happens over and over.
The same has continued today, only now the mother is doing horribly. This morning, I noticed she was restless and every few minutes would stop, go limp in the bedding, and her eyes would be open but nothing would phase her. Eventually she would snap out of it but it wouldn't be long before it happened again. Now, for the past hour, she has started incessant backflipping. She is falling on her babies and I am so worried she's going to injure herself. She finally laid down to nurse the little ones a few minutes ago but quickly crawled out and laid in the opposite corner of the cage.
There is no discharge and her belly isn't extended so I don't believe shes in pain near her belly. But I can tell she's exhausted. This must have gone on all night. I think the neurological behavior was brought back to life due to stress from mobile babies.
As for the babies.. maybe they're just exhausted too. But I don't know
I had planned from the beginning to keep this litter for six weeks because of their unknown background, but I wasn't expecting such a tragedy and homes are lined up already. Of course, none of them are leaving anytime soon now.

At what point is quality of life so poor that euthanasia should be considered? I hate seeing the mother like this. The babies are already eating solids. Should I remove her when they are two weeks old? Will this be more stressful or help her relax? The babies would be supplemented with kitten milk and high quality foods.

The mother is eating an excellent diet with plenty of supplementation. She tested negative for diabetes during pregnancy and their bin a in a warmer area of the house (about 72F). I have four other hamsters who are doing great so I don't think a bad batch of food would have brought anything on.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

When it starts o get to the point where she looks distressed and is clearly suffering then i would put her to sleep :

Its so horrible, sorry to hear about her, sending posotive vibes your way xx
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

It sounds quite sudden that she has started this behaviour so I would take her to the vets to be honest especially if the pups seem unwell. It could be something like mastitis and the infection would affect both her and the babies. It is worth the risk to try and get her though this and you will need to take everyone in the cage I imagine.
Maybe phone the vet and ask their opinion. Under the circumstances they may be willing to prescribe Baytril for at least mum to see if it does the trick. Personally I think 2 weeks is too young and you will need to hand feed them for another week anyway. Mum does lots of jobs other than feeding like cleaning and stimulating the pups to wee and poo as well as clearing that up.
Ensure she is hydrated and the bottle works and also the pups can drink as this is a common cause of these symptoms. Give the babies extra tiny cubes of cucumber to provide drinks.
I hope she improves soon x
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

Would something like mastitis cause neurological symptoms? She is drinking and all of them eat ricotta cheese, baby food green beans, and baby food chicken along with their seed mix which is Ecotrition Organic. The baby foods are plain so I don't think it's a reaction to something in them.
The neurological symptoms in the mother began long before babies were born, almost like she was having dizzy spells when she stood on her hind legs. Today she has a definately head tilt just before she backflips.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

An ear infection could cause this but a nasty mastitis could also send toxins into the system that could affect the brain. Do her nipples look swollen or red and hot at all if you can check?
It doesn't sound like this though if she is eating well and seems not too bad in herself.
Poor wee mite it is such a shame
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

Not a hamster health expert in all areas, but could she have some sort of an inner ear infection, which could affect her balance and be passed on to babies as well?
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

Wanted to give an update.
The babies are 100% and mom is 99%. Since moving her to a bin with taller sides a week ago, I haven't seen her flip a single time. So I think she is definitely neurological and the flips were brought on by stress from being in a shorter bin (only about 7" tall but long an wide). That or she fought off any possible infection.
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

I'm glad to hear she is well again
Actually one of my baby winterwhites was also 'stargazing' during a stressful time when his dad decided to start lots of dominating behaviour such as chasing.
But since all has settled down, the behaviour has stopped x
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

I know this post is from a while ago, but a hamster Iíve rescued two days ago and she seems to have a mild case of stargazing, where she looks up a lot, but isnít really falling over. She is in a detolf, and with a lot of bedding on one side, the lid is only 2 inches from all the bedding. She has been showing more off the stargazing symptoms while being on this side of the cage.

Iíve also noticed that she doesnít respond to sounds at all, and Iím curious if this might be a neurological thing or a possible ear infection. The person Iíve rescued her from said she always exhibited the very mild stargazing behavior though.

Iíll be taking her to the vet soon to get her checked, and would love to try anything to help reduce the amount she stargazed. Should I change her cage to a taller one? I just want to make sure I donít stress her out by giving her a whole new cage shortly after placing her in the new one.
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Old 05-06-2021, 10:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: Quality of Life - Neurological Dwarf

If there is only 2” between the bedding and the lid and she does it most in this area then it could be an environmental stress thing. Some hamsters aren’t too bothered about very deep bedding but plenty of floor area with a lot of floor toys and enrichment gives them variety. Eg a platform. Large tunnels, hidey places. Without seeing your set up it’s hard to tell but some detolfs can look a bit empty. Main thing is a good sized house or nesting box - like a labyrinth house eg. They like having a big dark area to nest in.
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