What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like?

Hamsters are very popular pets in the United States of America. But they’re fragile creatures with very short lifespans. There might be a point in your experience as a hamster parent where you have to decipher whether your pet is either hibernating or no longer alive.

A dead hamster looks like any dead animal—it doesn’t breathe or move and has no heartbeat. However, a hamster isn’t necessarily dead if it doesn’t move; it could be hibernating. Hamsters typically hibernate when the temperatures drop but wake up when the temperature is back to normal.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain each of these signs so you can be sure about your hamster’s state and how to take care of your hamster to ensure that you don’t have to ask this question too soon.

Signs That Your Hamster Has Passed Away

If you’re worried that your hamster has died and you don’t know what to do, here are some indications to help you determine whether or not your hamster has died:

What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like
What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like

Your Hamster Isn’t Moving

Movement is the first thing you should check for when trying to decipher whether or not your hamster has passed away.

When an animal dies, it can no longer move, breathe, and function as a living creature. A sure way to tell whether or not your hamster has passed away is to see if it’s moving and breathing. It’s certainly still alive if it’s doing one or both of those two things.

However, one thing you should keep in mind is that hamsters hibernate. That means if the temperature gets too cold, your hamster will go into a period of prolonged slumber with a slowed heartbeat.

Its overall body temperature will also drop, which is why you can’t rely on your hamster’s warmth (or lack thereof) to determine whether it has passed on.

If you’re concerned that your hamster is hibernating and not dead, there are other ways to check if your pet is still alive. If you’ve concluded that your hamster is hibernating, try implementing a gradual increase of room temperature and see if it wakes up in a couple of hours or days.

Also, read, How To Clean a Hamster

Your Hamster Has No Pulse

Checking your hamster’s pulse is another reliable way to tell whether your hamster is hibernating or no longer alive.

You can check your hamster’s pulse by gently placing your index finger and thumb above your hamster’s elbows and on its chest.

A hibernating hamster will have a slower and more faint pulse, but it’ll still have one. If you’re sure that your hamster has no pulse, it has probably passed away.

However, it can be tricky to correctly find a hamster’s pulse due to its small size. If you don’t feel a pulse, make sure to check for other signs of hamster death before you make any hasty decisions.

Your Hamster Hasn’t Taken Any Food or Water

Another way to tell that a hamster has passed away is to check and see if any food or water has been consumed recently.

A healthy hamster will consume food and water every day. If your hamster has passed away, it won’t do this.

However, keep in mind that a hamster that’s ill or hibernating won’t consume as much food and water as an active hamster would. If your hamster has stopped eating or drinking, but you still feel a pulse, you should take measures to bring your hamster out of hibernation.

Check out, Why Is My Hamster Biting the Cage

How To Bring Your Hamster Out of Hibernation

If you’re concerned that your hamster isn’t actually dead but hibernating, there are ways for you to be sure about this conclusion and solve the problem. But first, you need to know to read the signs of hamster hibernation.

Here are some hamster hibernation signs you should be aware of:

  • Overeating before hibernation
  • Pre-hibernation lethargy
  • No movement
  • No recent eating or drinking
  • Decrease in enclosure’s waste levels
  • Slowed pulse (but still there)
  • Cold or decreased body temperature

How To Help a Hibernating Hamster

Suppose you’ve concluded that your hamster is hibernating. The best way to help a hibernating hamster is to raise its body temperature back to normal levels.

In nature, winter doesn’t often provide a lot of food. That’s why many animals, including hamsters, have an instinct to go into hibernation when it gets cold and wake up when it gets warm.

You can raise your hamster’s body temperature by providing it with more bedding, gradually raising the thermostat, or even using your own body heat to bring your pet’s temperature levels back to normal gently. You should also consider using pet-friendly heating pads.

If you can’t seem to bring your hamster out of hibernation, it’s best to consult a qualified veterinarian about the issue.

Read What Do You Need for a Hamster

Common Causes of Hamster Death

Unfortunately, death is a part of life, and sometimes we witness this in our pets. If you’re still unsure whether your hamster has passed away, consider these common causes of hamster death to assist in your investigation.

The Hamster Dies of Old Age

Old age is one of the most common causes of hamster death because these animals have surprisingly low lifespans.

A healthy domestic hamster can live up to two or three years, depending on how well the animal is cared for. Hamsters are classified as seniors if they’ve lived for over one and a half years.

If your hamster is over one and a half years old, there’s a chance that your beloved pet may have passed away naturally due to old age.

An Illness Can Also Lead to Death in a Hamster

Illness is another common cause of hamster death. Because these creatures are so small and fragile, they’re susceptible to illnesses that can have severe effects on your pet’s health.

Here are some of the most common hamster ailments:

  • Skin infections and abscesses
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Wet tail (contagious)
  • Gastrointestinal issues

If you’re concerned that your hamster has one or more of these conditions, you should take it to a qualified veterinary professional as soon as you can to prevent fatality.

Sometimes Hamsters Die From Injuries

Hamsters are significantly smaller than we are, and they’re also extremely fragile. Because of this, your pet is prone to injuries that can sometimes be fatal.

Hamsters can become injured when dropped or fall from a high place in their enclosure. They can also face injury if a structure in their enclosure falls on them, such as a hide, decor, or even a large food dish.

Poisoning Can Kill a Hamster

Poisoning is another cause of hamster death.

If your hamster is exposed to harsh chemicals or toxins, it can become sick and eventually die. These harmful chemicals can be found in everyday household cleaning products and perfumes, candles, wall plugs, and other synthetic fragrances that contain toxic ingredients.

Also check, How To Clean Hamster Cage

How To Keep Your Hamster Alive and Healthy

If you’re concerned about your hamster’s health, here are some ways that you can keep your pet healthy to ensure that it lives a long and happy life.

what do hamsters look like when they die
what do hamsters look like when they die

Give Your Hamster a Proper Diet

Providing your hamster with a proper diet is essential to keep your friend happy and healthy.

A proper hamster diet should include all-natural pellets, sparing fresh hamster-friendly produce, and timothy hay. You can also give your hamster occasional treats.

Make sure that you only feed your hamster all-natural food. Avoid products that include synthetic ingredients and dyes because these can be harmful to your hamster. You should also try to buy organic products when you can to avoid exposing your pet to pesticides.

Provide Your Hamster With Enough Water

Your hamster must have access to enough water at all times.

Like all living things, your hamster can become sick and even die from dehydration without constant access to water. Make sure that you provide your hamster with an accessible water bottle so that it can stay hydrated.

It’s vital that you give your hamster water out of a bottle and not a dish because your hamster can potentially drown in a water bowl. It’s also easier for domestic hamsters to drink out of bottles. Water bowls can also get contaminated by bedding and waste.

Prepare the Right Bedding for Your Hamster

Surprisingly, not every type of bedding is safe for hamsters. Some bedding is unsafe for hamsters and can cause your pet to be sick.

You should avoid providing your hamster with bedding made from cedar or pine because these contain harmful acids that can trigger allergic reactions in many animals– including humans. Even heat-treated pine and cedar shavings aren’t entirely safe, and it’s recommended that hamster owners avoid this type of bedding altogether.

You must avoid scented bedding mixes as well because these often contain synthetic fragrances made from ingredients that are harmful to both hamsters and humans.

When looking for adequate hamster bedding, make sure you only purchase bedding that’s free of toxins and water-soluble so no harm will come to your pet if it’s ingested.

Create a Safe Enclosure for Your Hamster

Believe it or not, many unsafe enclosures are marketed toward hamsters and small rodents. It’s important to ensure that your hamster has a high-quality enclosure that prevents escape and injury.

Ensure that your hamster’s enclosure doesn’t include any high ledges or unstable structures that could cause the animal to fall– or have something else fall on top of it. It’s crucial for your pet’s safety because it’s fragile and prone to injury.

It’s also important that your hamster can’t escape the enclosure. Escaping can immediately expose your pet to many dangers, such as dangerous heights, toxic materials, getting lost or stuck, and being exposed to predatory pets like dogs and cats.

Handle Your Hamster Gently

It’s essential to be gentle when handling your hamster. These animals are incredibly fragile creatures that must be treated properly to avoid injury.

When handling your hamster, ensure that you’re always sitting down to avoid dropping your pet. You should also avoid tight squeezing because this can fracture hamster bones.

Ensure Your Hamster Gets Adequate Exercise

The majority of living creatures require movement to stay healthy—which is true for hamsters—and exercise is essential for a healthy hamster lifestyle.

Hamsters need to exercise daily to stay in the best possible shape. You can help your hamster exercise by providing it with an exercise wheel or safely allowing it to run around in a plastic hamster ball (supervised, of course).

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Conclusion

Hamsters are fragile pets with short lifespans. If you’re worried that your pet has passed away, make sure that it has a pulse and has been exposed to healthy living conditions. If your hamster is still alive, but you’re concerned about your hamster’s health, you should always consider consulting a qualified veterinary professional to help.