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FAQ

A compilation of frequently asked questions about hamsters.

The vet has prescribed medicine... how do I administer it?
Yuck. Should my hamster be eating his poop?
Do hamsters hibernate?
How can I interpret the hamster's body language?
Can I let my hamster swim?
What should I do if I find bugs in the hamster food?
 Is it normal for hamsters to have their teeth sometimes fall off?
My hamster likes to climb about, but sometimes she falls from quite high and she will lie motionless on the floor. Will she get bone fractures?
My hamster is very old now and recently I noticed blue spots in the middle of his eyes. Is he going blind?
Sometimes after playing for a while, my hamster would suddenly stop and remain in that position, like a mini statue, for a long time. Then suddenly, she would jump up and run into hiding. Is this a normal behaviour?

Thanks and acknowlegements

<<< Back to more hamster information.

The vet has prescribed medicine... how do I administer it?

Hold your hamster by the scruff of the neck, so your hand is closed as if in a fist, with the hamster's loose skin along the back and neck between your palm and fingertips. Tip the hamster back a bit so he is leaning against your palm, belly up. Don't worry, it doesn't cause harm. (You or your hamster.) Don't give the hamster too much medicine at a time or he might choke, or just store it in those massive cheeks. If you have to give your hamster a pill, try putting it inside peanut butter or some other treat. If they still won't eat willingly, use the technique outlined above and put small bits in his mouth, allowing the hamster to swallow in between mouthfuls. This method is also a great way to administer eye medication.
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Yuck. Should my hamster be eating his poop?

Yes. Hamsters have a different digestive system than humans. Hamsters produce two types of excrement one that's partially digested containing lots of nutrients, and one that's just garbage. Hamsters practice coprophagy, eating the nutrient-filled excrement to get the nutrients from it and digest it fully.
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Do hamsters hibernate?

Technically it's not hibernation, but they will slow down their body functions (they become "torpid") if the room temperature of the room they are in gets unusually low, but shouldn't just go into hibernation just because it's the winter season. If your hamster reaches this state, in most cases do not to disturb them. Let them come out of it naturally. Golden hamsters become sluggish at about 14C and torpid at about 10C. Dwarf hamsters aren't known to hibernate, and Syrian hamsters should be warmed to get them out of hibernation because they can die if they are in this state too long. Lack of water, and sudden temperature change can cause a sort of hibernation, and this is dangerous. Wake them up, and get them water, food, and warmth. I remember reading a post in the group about a family who put their hamster in the fridge, thinking it was dead, and then being surprised the next morning when the hamster was in the fridge chewing on veggies, as happy as can be! My point is, your hamster might not be dead, just hibernating. Check the whiskers, because on a hibernating hamster, they'll be twitching.
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How can I interpret the hamster's body language?

From "Hamsters" by Helga Fritzsche:

Body Language:


Can I let my hamster swim?

No.
No matter what you have heard, water is dangerous to hamsters. Even if they do not drown trying to stay out of the water, chances are they will catch pneumonia.
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What should I do if I find bugs in the hamster food?

It is not safe to feed hamsters with food that contains bugs as these bugs are from an unknown origin. Since the food was most likely harvested from a farming environment, there is no way to tell if these bugs ingested pesticides or carry diseases/parasites.

Do buy reliable brands of hamster mixes which come with an expiry date and are vacuum packed to ensure the freshness of the food.


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Is it normal for hamsters to have their teeth sometimes fall off?

No, as their teeth continues to grow throughout their life. Falling teeth is often a sign of dental disease.
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My hamster likes to climb about, but sometimes she falls from quite high and she will lie motionless on the floor. Will she get bone fractures?

Hamsters, like most other creatures, may suffer concussion when fallen from a height especially when the landing is hard! They do get bone fractures and it is best to bring it to a vet when it is suspected to suffer from that.
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Sometimes after playing for a while, my hamster would suddenly stop and remain in that position, like a mini statue, for a long time. Then suddenly, she would jump up and run into hiding. Is this a normal behaviour?

The hamster is not really a domestic animal and is in fact a wild animal kept in a household enviroment. They therefore continue to exhibit the normal traits of a wild animal. At intermittent intervals, these animals will stop their grooming, eating, socialising, to test the surrounding areas of any threat. They do this by stretching up to get the highest view possible, by not moving to keep their position secure and to hear any sound, and by sniffing the air for any unfamiliar scents. Anything that causes them concern will result in a flight reaction to find safety.
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My hamster is very old now and recently I noticed blue spots in the middle of his eyes. Is he going blind?

The blue spot in the middle of his eyes could be cataract condition, i.e. lens of the eyeball turning cloudy due to old age. It could also be a corneal ulcer or scar. Please get the hamster check by the vet.
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Thanks and Acknowlegements:
FAQs 1-5 are taken from
The alt.pets.hamsters FAQ

FAQ 6 is drafted with assistance & advice from Hamster Hideout Discussion Forum's moderator, missPixy.

FAQs 7-10 are taken from Pawpals magazine (J. Waters Publising Pte Ltd, Singapore) Issues 1-12
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