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Gen B.
Gen B., Retired Veterinary Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 2227
Experience:  Dog, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Gerbil breeder / Reptile Keeper / Bunny-Ferret-Exotic Specialist
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I have a russian dwarf hamster who keeps falling over and onto

Resolved Question:

I have a russian dwarf hamster who keeps falling over and onto his head. the cage hes in is a multi level one and he keeps refusing to use the stairs to get down, but rather falls on his head a full level down out of stubborn ness im hoping. he also has a tendency to fall over quite a bit. i have two other hamsters in the same cage and do not have an issue with them. is it possible he has an ear infection or something? or could it just be his personality?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Gen B. replied 4 years ago.
I am sorry that no one online earlier felt able to discuss this with you...if you still need help, please tell me:

1) How old is this Hamster?

2) Definitely male?

3) What gender are the cage mates?

4) Have other males in this group castrated him, or does he still have his testicles?

5) What type of cage are you using (wire, glass, plastic)?

6) What type of bedding do you use?

7) What is your cleaning routine?


Edited by Gen B. on 3/15/2010 at 12:16 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Honestly, I picked him up at Petsmart about a week and a half ago. I have been trying to do as much research about them before and after i got them so far, but I do not know if it is for sure a male. The age is unknown. The cage is a plastic one with some wire for the sides, and part of the bottom to help with cleanup. I picked up some sort of shredded paper bedding when i got them, but i do not like it all that much so far. I was looking for some wood chips, but all ive seen so far is cedar, and i read that you do Not ever put them on cedar. The way that i clean the cage is, i have two cages that are connected with a crawl tube, i get all 3 of them into the cage that is not to be cleaned as of yet, and then i vaccuum out all of the old bedding, and whatever else is loose in there, then i use the spray cleaner that i picked up for cleaning their cages. i then put in more bedding, and do a cage switch once again.
Expert:  Gen B. replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thanks for researching your question!

This is a pretty interesting variety of Hamster...they are very social and can get along in groups. There are a few caveats:

1) You must never take them out and handle them separately. Dwarf Hamsters recognize each other by Scent. Separating them breaks the scent bond.

2) In mixed-gender groups, there can only be one male...dominant animals will starve or kill "extra" males.

3) Groups of bachelors can "set up house" by choosing a weak male and castrating him. He then plays "Mom". These eunuchs are never as healthy as the rest of the Gang, and can look shrunken or "worried".

Although some animals might not be very coordinated and may try navigating tubes in the way you describe, I am concerned about his falling down at other times. To know for sure what can be done about an ear infection (yes, a possible cause), he would have to be examined by a veterinarian who knows how to handle Hamsters and prescribe safe treatments:
Look for exotic mammal vet here.

Many Hamsters are born with developmental defects that make themselves known many weeks or even months after purchase.

Paper litter is best, XXXXX XXXXX before things get urine-wet is fine. You should consider using a dilute bleach solution to wash the plastic surfaces, since it is most prone to bacterial or fungal colonies that can kill your pets. You would have to take the cages apart and wash them thoroughly, followed by a good deal or rinsing.

Aspen wood bedding is OK...but it is more dusty (and may jam up your vacuum).

These animals eat seeds, grains, insects and small berries. Most Hamster mixes contain those green hay pellets...but most Dwarf Hammies do not eat them. Supplement the regular diet with whole grain cereals (non-sugared types...original GrapeNuts, Cheerios, Chex), multi-grain bread, boiled egg (with the shell left on!), loose Timothy Hay, and some dried cranberries.

If you are handling these guys as pets, then you really should have a separate cage for each one by the time they are fully mature (6-8 months).

To get additional support at this time, please "REPLY".

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well thank you for that information. I havent really found any of that as of yet. One thing about him is I've noticed that he often times tries to be confrontational, and sometimes the others fight back, but genereally, the one just removes himself from the area, and the other will often times flip him onto his back, and kinda lay on him till he calms down. I do not know if this means he is what you described earlier as the serrogate mother more or less, or if its just how things go with these guys. also, you said not to handle them seperately, how would u best suggest i handle them then, because im not going to be able to get another couple cages for a little while. Lastly, is there anything else that you believe is imperative that i know. I appreciate all this information so far.
Expert:  Gen B. replied 4 years ago.
He is being bullied...and now it sounds like it has come to the point that he is just completely defensive all the time (the Buzz-squeak is like a dog growling just before a fight breaks out).

I am concerned that he is being prevented access to food and water, so the sooner you can get him his own accommodation, the better. Starved animals are very aggressive and hyperactive...make sure to give him some feeding with the "hallway" closed in the evenings. This will not make up for him not being able to eat all night long, but might help in the short term.

In the meantime, you really should not take them out or handle them...when your scent gets on their fur it masks their natural odor and will make them even more likely to be aggressive to each other. If you have to physically move them around, use a cup or plastic container to scoop them with some bedding.

Let me know if you have other great questions about this!

Gen B., Retired Veterinary Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 2227
Experience: Dog, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Gerbil breeder / Reptile Keeper / Bunny-Ferret-Exotic Specialist
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