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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11061
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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My sons hamster (Speedy) just died suddenly and

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My son''s hamster (Speedy) just died suddenly and we have only had him 11 months. He was a honey bear hamster. He had no signs of illness and has been as active as he usually is. We recently got a new puppy. The puppy never bothered Speedy, but could the puppy have caused too much stress for the hamster? Please help me. I have a 9 year old that is going to be devasted when he finds out this evening. Thank you.
Hi Jeana,

I'm sorry for the sudden loss of your hamster.

If you'll give me a little more information, I'll try to answer your question.

Check the hamster cage for droppings - are they normal, runny, or small and dry?

In the corners where your hamster urinated, is there any white or black residue?

What kind of bedding do you use?

What foods?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Anna's Post: Well, I am not home right now. My father just called to tell me he had died. I will be checking this out when I get home this evening. I haven't cleaned the cage in two weeks (instead of weekly like I normally do) because of the holidays. I am thinking this is all my fault for not cleaning out the cage last week. When I clean the cage there is usually some white residue where he urinates. We use the Aspen brand bedding. We feed him hamster food and hamster treats by hand. He loves them! Does any of this help?
Thank you. This is enough information. Chances are you won't be able to tell which droppings are recent and which are older, anyway. I'll be back with your answer in a few minutes.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Do you need more info?
To put your mind at ease, it's highly unlikely that not cleaning the cage or the new puppy resulted in Speedy's death. Before I go into possible causes of death, i just want to mention that a hibernating hamster looks like a dead hamster. If your home was cooler than normal in the last 24 hours, that can be enough to send a hamster into hibernation. I know there's not much chance of this, but it does happen once in awhile. If that's a possibility, you could call your dad and have him try to warm up the hamster. As I said, this is only an outside chance, but I did want to mention it.

Without having a vet perform a necropsy, there is no way to know for certain what caused Speedy to die. There are, however, three likely causes. Because he died suddenly with no obvious symptoms, many conditions are ruled out.

Cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle itself, rather than a clogging of arteries) is inherited in some lines of hamsters. It seldom produces symptoms, resulting in sudden death when the heart just stops beating.

Salmonellosis is another possibility. This is caused by the salmonella bacteria. Hamsters can be afflicted by two forms of this illness. One form is long-term and has many symptoms. The other has a very sudden onset with a rapid death. This is a common cause of death when a hamster seems fine in the evening and is found dead in the morning. If you fed Speedy fresh vegetables and fruits from the grocery store without washing them, he could have contracted salmonellosis. You can read more about it here:

If you think salmonellosis is a possibility, it's very important to carefully disinfect everything associated with the hamster, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. It can be passed to humans.

Hamsters also can have strokes. A stroke often results in partial paralysis, but if severe enough, it can cause death. I suspect that Speedy died from one of the above three causes.

I feel bad for your poor son, and for you in having to break the news to him. If he would take some comfort in writing a little memorial for his hamster or reading comforting words such as the Rainbow Bridge story, you may want to help him use one of these free sites to do those things:

If you have further concerns or questions about this, just let me know by clicking on REPLY.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on ACCEPT. Thank you.)
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