Hibernation or death in the hamster, how to make the difference?

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Published by Julie
hamster in hibernation

When the temperature As the temperature drops, some animals, such as hamsters and turtles, may go into hibernation to survive the cold. But how do you know if your hamster is simply hibernating or if it has unfortunately died?

To avoid making a hasty decision, here is how to avoid making a mistake and recognize the distinctive signs between a hamster in hibernation and a dead hamster.

Understanding hibernation in hamsters

L?hibernation is a natural process in some animals, including hamsters. It is a state of deep sleep which allows the animal to preserve its energy when the food and heat are missing.

In the wild, this ability to hibernate helps hamsters survive the cold, harsh winter months. In captivity, even though living conditions are generally more stable, there may be times when your pet feels the need to hibernate.

Several factors can trigger hibernation in a hamster:

  • A significant drop in room temperature
  • Decrease in daylight hours
  • A lack of food or water
  • A lot of stress

Hibernation is not a disease or a sign of weakness! This is a natural and temporary adaptation. However, it can be dangerous for the hamster's health if it stays in this state for too long without receiving the appropriate care.

Signs of a hibernating hamster

Hibernation is a state of torpor during which the animal reduces its metabolism considerably to save energy. This process is natural in some species, such as turtles and hamsters.

There are signs that can alert you to the state of hibernation of your pet. When a hamster hibernates, it has several specific characteristics:

  • Immobility: the animal seems inert, not moving or very little.
  • Slowing of metabolism: His breathing and heart rate slow down considerably, almost imperceptible to the naked eye.
  • Body criteria: the hamster's body becomes cold to the touch and the extremities (ears, tail) may have a whitish or pale appearance
  • Deep sleep: It is difficult to wake up the animal by handling it gently.
  • His eyesAlthough often closed, they can be slightly open.

The duration of hibernation varies according to the individual and the environmental conditions. It can last from a few days to several weeks. However, if you notice these signs in your hamster, it is crucial to intervene quickly to avoid complications.

hamster sleeping or hibernating
hamster sleeping or hibernating

How to react to a hibernating hamster?

If you suspect that your hamster is in a state of hibernation, the following measures should be taken to bring him out of this lethargy:

  1. Increase the room temperature Hibernation in hamsters is usually triggered by a drop in room temperature. Make sure that the room in which the hamster is your hamster's cage is sufficiently heated and maintain a constant temperature between 20 and 22°C.
  2. Check the cage Make sure the cage is clean and well-equipped, with warm, comfortable bedding for your hamster to snuggle in. If you notice that the cage is dirty or damp, clean it and change the bedding.
  3. Stimulate your hamster To wake your hamster up, try gently stimulating it by petting it or talking to it. You can also place your hamster near a heat source, such as a hot water bottle or heating blanket, to help it regain a normal body temperature.
  4. Leave him water and food When your hamster wakes up, it will probably be hungry and dehydrated. Make sure he has access to fresh water and food. You can also give him energy-rich foods, such as sunflower seeds or pieces of dried fruit, to help him regain his strength.

Signs of a dead hamster

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a hibernating hamster and a dead one, especially if you are not familiar with the behavior of these animals. However, here are some signs that can help you tell the difference and confirm your hamster's death:

  • Total absence of movement: In contrast to the immobility during hibernation, a dead hamster does not show any muscular activity, even minimal.
  • Stiffness: The body of the hamster becomes rigid, a phenomenon called rigor mortis. This sign usually appears a few hours after the death of the animal.
  • Absence of breathing and heartbeat: if you put your ear close to the hamster's body or look at it closely, you will not hear any breathing or heartbeat.
  • Visual changes: the hamster's eyes may be opaque or even whitish, and its body may have purplish spots due to stagnant blood.

Avoiding hibernation of a hamster

To prevent your hamster from hibernating, there are a few things you can do on a daily basis to ensure its comfort and safety.

  • Maintain proper temperature The ideal temperature for a hamster is between 20 and 22°C. Make sure that the room in which your hamster cage is located is well heated and free from draughts.
  • Clean the cage regularly A clean and well-maintained cage contributes to the well-being of your hamster. Clean it regularly and change the litter to avoid humidity and bad smells.
  • Watch for his power supply A healthy hamster should have access to a balanced and varied diet of pellets, fresh vegetables and dried fruit. Make sure that fresh water is always available.
hibernation in hamsters
hibernation in hamsters

The different species of hamsters and their propensity to hibernate

There are several species of hamsters, some of which are more likely to hibernate than others. Here is an overview of the characteristics and behaviors related to hibernation of some species of hamsters commonly adopted as pets:

  • The Russian hamster This species of hamster is particularly sensitive to temperature variations and can easily go into hibernation if the climate is too cold. It is essential to maintain an adequate temperature to avoid this phenomenon.
  • The dwarf hamster Dwarf hamsters are also sensitive to temperature changes and can hibernate. However, they are generally hardier than Russian hamsters and require more extreme conditions to enter hibernation.
  • The Roborovski hamster This species of hamster is less prone to hibernation, but it may still hibernate in very low temperatures. Keep a close eye on your Roborovski hamster for signs of hibernation.

By taking care of your hamster and respecting its needs, you will reduce the risk of hibernation and promote a healthy and happy life for your little friend.

In case of doubt about the condition of your hamster, it is always better to consult a veterinarian for professional advice. The loss of a pet is a difficult ordeal, but it is essential to react with discernment to avoid making decisions that you will inevitably regret.

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Published by Julie

Passionate about hamsters since I was young, I share with you all my knowledge about them!