When the temperature In addition, some animals, such as hamsters and turtles, can enter a period of hibernation for a few days. survive to the cold. But how do you know whether your hamster is simply hibernating or has sadly passed away?
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 hamster hibernation
L'hibernation is a natural process in certain 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, although living conditions are generally more stable, your pet may feel the need to hibernate.
Several factors can trigger hibernation in a hamster:
- A significant drop in room temperature
- Decrease in daylight hours
- 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 represent a danger to the hamster's health if it remains in this state for too long without receiving appropriate care.
Signs of a hibernating hamster
Hibernation is a state of torpor during which the animal considerably reduces its metabolism to save energy. This process occurs naturally in certain species, such as turtles and hamsters.
There are signs that can alert you to your pet's state of hibernation. When a hamster hibernates, it displays several specific characteristics:
- Immobility: the animal appears inert, moving little or no more.
- 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's 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 environmental conditions. It can last from a few days to several weeks. However, if you notice these signs in your hamster, it's crucial to intervene quickly to avoid complications.
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 it out of this lethargy:
- Increase the room temperature Hibernation: hamster hibernation is generally triggered by a drop in ambient temperature. Make sure your hamster's cage is sufficiently heated, and maintain a constant temperature of between 20 and 22°C.
- Check the cage Make sure the cage is clean and well-equipped, with warm, comfortable bedding for your hamster to snuggle in. If the cage is dirty or damp, clean it and change the bedding.
- Stimulate your hamster To wake your hamster up, try gently stimulating it by stroking it or talking to it. You can also place him near a source of heat, such as a hot water bottle or heated blanket, to help him return to a normal body temperature.
- Leave him water and food When your hamster wakes up, he'll 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 distinguish a hibernating hamster from a dead one, especially if you're not familiar with the behavior of these animals. However, here are a few signs that can help you tell the difference and confirm your hamster's death:
- Total absence of movement: unlike immobility during hibernation, a dead hamster has no muscular activity, however minimal.
- Stiffness: the hamster's body becomes rigid, a phenomenon known as rigor mortis. This sign generally appears a few hours after the animal's death.
- 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.
Preventing hamster hibernation
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 your hamster's cage room is well heated and draught-free.
- 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 dampness and unpleasant odours.
- Watch for his power supply A healthy hamster needs a balanced, varied diet of pellets, fresh vegetables and dried fruit. Make sure it always has fresh water available.
Different hamster species and their propensity for hibernation
There are several species of hamster, some of which are more likely to hibernate than others. Here's a look at the hibernation-related characteristics and behaviors of a few hamster species 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 Roborovski hamster: This species of hamster is less prone to hibernation, but it is still possible for it to hibernate in very low temperatures. Keep a close eye on your Roborovski hamster for signs of hibernation.
By taking good care of your hamster and respecting its needs, you'll reduce the risk of hibernation and promote a healthy, happy life for your little companion.
If in doubt about your hamster's condition, it is always best to consult a veterinarian for professional advice. Losing a pet is a difficult ordeal, but it's essential to react with discernment to avoid making decisions you'll inevitably regret.