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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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My hamster has us concerned. I came to play with him in his

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My hamster has us concerned. I came to play with him in his cage and when I went to grab him, he jolted and sprinted away from me. When I calmed him down and picked him up, it was like he went completely limp. I noticed his butt was a tad matted and ran cool water over him to clean it up- that's when I realized the small matte was caused by blood and his testicles seemed to be missing or pulled in. He won't blink and he is twitching and breathing heavily. Occasionally he will chirp at us and it seems like he's lost weight. I don't know how old he is- I got him around the beginning of this year and his genitals didn't develop noticeable until about 2-4 weeks after we bought him (we're guessing he's maybe a year old). I'm unsure if it is stroke or something else, is there anything I can do? I want to know NOW if there is anything I can do- please respond ASAP.

It sounds as if your hamster is having a stress response, whether he injured himself when (or before) he ran away from you, or he was just frightened. The small injury you noted sounds like a superficial, minor cut.

Hamsters are prey animals for many other species, and they will go limp like that to avoid being eaten when they are stressed. The best thing to do is to stop handling him and leave him in his cage in a warm, quiet room with food and water available. Check on him periodically, but don't let a lot of family members come and go, and avoid handling him, which causes further stress to an injured or frightened rodent.

Hamsters, rabbits, and many other pocket pets retain the ability to pull their genitals up tightly against the body wall, where they are almost undetectable. They will do this because hamsters will preferentially attack each others' testicles when fighting, and they try to protect the area. Seeing them only occasionally is actually normal.

If your hamster is not behaving normally by tomorrow, I'd suggest a trip to the veterinarian. If he is developing a respiratory infection (like you might see with the heavy breathing), or his injury is more serious, he might benefit from antibiotics. Be advised that hamsters hide their symptoms unless they are seriously ill or very stressed, so even with the best care, it is often too late to save ill hamsters by the time they start acting abnormally.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We have left him in the cage for awhile now and the last I checked on him, he began to pee himself. His breathing has gotten even farther apart and what has me most concerned is that he's never gone into any stress related attack before- the jolt or surprise of us opening the cage and picking him up was small and some we thought normal. It's like he is in a daze and ragdoll-like state when we hold him. I am just unsure if it truly is stress-related because it seems abnormal of him already.

I do wonder with the bloody spot you found and his more intense reaction if he had somehow injured himself before you tried to pick him up. Sick or injured hamsters (and rodents in general) often turn into limp little dishcloths when they are ill or injured, regardless of the cause-- it tells us something is wrong, but doesn't give much of a clue what it is. Usually, if a respiratory infection (most common illness) has been brewing, you'll remember on thinking back that he was maybe a little quieter than usual the past few days-- while the signs suddenly get worse, it kind of creeps up over a few days. Strokes are pretty uncommon in domestic animals, so it sounds as if he either injured himself or was hiding the symptoms of an illness that has suddenly gotten worse.

Other than minimizing stress, there's not much you can do for him at home. A veterinarian might be able to help him out (I've had some success with antibiotics in these little guys even when they are almost nonresponsive), but if he's injured, there may not be much you can do to help him.
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