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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11424
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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My hamster is acting very strange. He looks like he is jumping

Resolved Question:

My hamster is acting very strange. He looks like he is jumping then rolls over on his back. He looks like he's dying. What should I do. I cleaned his cage yesterday: washed out the cage and replaced the bedding. He seemed to be sleeping more lately.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.

After your hamster rolls over on his back, what happens? Does he stay there for awhile? Does he move while there?

How is his appetite?

Is swelling anywhere on his body?

Is he wobbly or shaky when he walks?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

As soon as his cage was cleaned yesterday he ran over to his food and began eating. So appetite appears good.


As far as being shaky, I'm not sure. He seems to be trying to climb out of his cage and then tumbles backward. His limbs are stuck straight out then like he's dead and then he starts moving again. I just washed his cage out a few minutes ago again and layed down newspaper only thinking maybe something was wrong with the bedding I put in yesterday. Although I've used it before.


He hasn't been as active lately. He has burrowed making mounds of his bedding all

around sleeping alot. I haven't heard that wheel so much in the middle of the night.

Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. You have apparently done a great job of taking care of him because a two-year-old hamster is the equivalent of a human well into their 80's.

As hamsters get older, they become more prone to some diseases that can't be treated. Some of their organs, including the brain, can become embedded with minerals. They can develop cardiomyopathy. Cancer and strokes become quite common. Several of these disorders can cause seizures and balance disorders, which may be what you're seeing. Sleeping a lot and being less active also go along with old age.You can read more about hamster old age here:

I'm afraid that your hamster most likely has one of these illnesses of old age. If after reading about the diseases of old age, you decide that's what's wrong, all you can do is keep him comfortable. He's still enjoying his food, and that's a good sign. Even at age two, there's a possibility that this may be something treatable. What I recommend is that you make an appointment to see a vet. After an exam, the vet can determine if your hamster can be treated. If so, the proper treatment can begin. If not, the vet can let you know that.These links will take you to directories of vets who treat small rodents:

I'm sorry not to have better news for you. It's always painful to watch a beloved pet grow old and frail. The biggest drawback to these small pets is that they have such a short lifespan. If you have more concerns or questions, or I can offer support in any other way, just let me know by clicking on REPLY.

Anna and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank you Anna. You answered my question with compassion. I know the life expectancy of a hamster is not very long and cautioned my son when we got it but

it is still difficult to watch a pet grow old.


Again thank you for your response.

Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.
You're welcome. At least you can tell your son that you have tried to do something.