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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20612
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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We have a little robo hamster weve had since Christmas. My

Customer Question

We have a little robo hamster weve had since Christmas. My daughter noticed that "Kim" has been laying outside of her rock since yesterday and not eating (we dont see any feces in her cage and it was last cleaned on Sunday). She seems to be shivering, her whiskers are really moving and her eyes are shut. We fed her water but she wouldnt take any food from us. Were hoping this is mistaken for hibernatiom because she does stay in our dauhhters room and the window has been open for a few weeks now...any suggestions?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.
Hello & welcome to Just Answer/Pearl. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Now I have just come online, read about Kim, and must say that I am very concerned. I do have some further questions for you about her, but since time is of the essence when we are dealing with poorly prey species like hamsters I will also leave some information for you to initiate supportive care for her.

My additional questions are:

Prior to this, has she been drinking more or has her bedding been getting wetter quicker (a sign of increased urination)?

Where her stools normal before (the drop now isn't a surprise is she is not eating since they need input to produce an output)?

Are you hearing any wheezing, coughs, sneezes, or increased breathing noise?
Is she breathing faster then usual?

Have you noticed any weight loss?

Has she had any drooling or favoring soft foods over pellets?

Regarding hibernation, this would be unlikely from your description (most hibernating hamsters are mistaken for dead in appearance since they don't move whiskers and wouldn't respond enough to drink). As well, hibernation is an issue we tend to see around 40F (which I would suspect your daughter wouldn't want the window open when it was that chill). Otherwise, hamsters tend to cope with the temperature being anywhere around 60-78F, so I'd be less inclined to be considering this and would be more concerned that she is lethargic secondary to illness.

Now even without know what the underlying trigger is, we do have to take steps to support her. Because if she feels too poorly to eat and drink, she will end up dehydrated and weak. This often leads them into a vicious downward spiral and ultimately is why we lose them. You noted that she wouldn't willingly eat for you, but you do need to keep trying. If she isn't keen to eat her normal food, then it would be worthwhile to try and tempt her to eat. Try hand feeding him his favorite foods at this point. If she isn’t willing to eat, you will need to start syringe feeding this wee one. It is worth speaking to the vet about diets to syringe feed to your hamster. I tend to use Oxbow’s Critical Care feed for anorexic pocket pets. (HERE) or Supreme Recovery diet (LINK) . These are highly nutritious herbivore feeds that can be easily made into a slurry for syringe feeding. And it is much easier to use then trying to create a balanced critical care diet at home. While you are looking into procuring one, you can use veggie baby food in the meantime (or even to tempt her in the short term).

If she isn’t drinking on her own, then dehydration is a concern. Offering water as you have is good but since she hasn't been eating, do consider offering Pedialyte or in a pinch diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into her system if she hasn’t been eating. You can offer these direct or give via dropper or syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). This is just an average but will give you an idea of how much fluid she should be taking in over the course of a 24 hour period.

Furthermore, since she is shivering (a sign that perhaps she doesn't have the body energy to spare to thermoregulate), do make sure she is moved away from drafts and chilly locales at this stage. Furthermore, you can make a safe warmer for your little one from a clean sock filled 2/3rd full with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Make sure to shake it before adding it to the cage, to allow the heat to distribute. Make sure its not too hot (as we don’t want to burn Kim. If it cools, you can re-warm as required). Alternatively, a heating pad under half the cage (so she can move away if he gets too warm) or a heat lamp can be used. Whichever you technique, you use monitor the temperature closely, since we don’t want to overheat her (and we cannot be confident she would move himself if she grew too warm).

Overall, the signs you have described are non-specific for one disease but rather are those we see with advanced illness in the hamster. And once they get to a stage like this, we have to move quickly before they can dehydrate and waste away. Therefore, you do need to initiate the above a bit more aggressively then you have to make sure she gets some nutrition and fluids in. Furthermore, I would advise that since she is so dull and collapsed that you do consider having her checked by her vet. They will aid you in pinpointing the underlying trigger for her signs and treatment can be targeted to remove the underlying cause and aid you in getting her back to normal.


I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.


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