Ageing is a normal part of life, and at some point, hamsters become elderly too. The day would eventually come when the energy level of your hamster will not be as high as before. They start making big nests and sleep more often than spend time running in their exercise wheel or around the cage as they did in the past. Now, it’s time to give a little bit of extra special attention and care.
The vital thing to know is that senior hamsters have different care requirements than young ones. You know have a different set of obligations. Elderly hamsters need someone who tends to their joint pains, someone to keep their teeth healthy and help them adapt to life with old age symptoms like cataracts and other common diseases and ailments.
HOW LONG DOES A HAMSTER LIVE
Syrian hamsters can live 3-4 years, Dwarf for 2-3 years; in some cases, Roborovski lives the longest to up to 4 years. But regardless of which type, a hamster nearing his second birthday is considered old. But it’s not likely that they’ll die soon when reaching his 2nd birthday, it’s just to say that two years is about 80 human years old.
Small animals are often mistreated and forced under adverse conditions when they’re bred for pet stores to sell. Even if you did your best to take care of your hamster, if they die too early without any injury or sickness involved or they develop health issues out of nowhere, lousy breeding can be the cause. Best to look for a local rescue first before considering buying a hamster.
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SIGNS OF AGEING HAMSTER
Old hamsters often have daily aches, pain, and it doesn’t stop there. They also develop illnesses and diseases, making life harder for your hamsters to survive. To properly take care of an ageing hamster, it’s essential to address these changing needs as he ages, here are some precautions you should look at and care for.
Loss of Senses
Hamster has lousy eyesight but can lead a perfect life thanks to his heightened sense of smell and ability to react fast to sound. But when old age starts to creep in him, they begin to slow down, sleep more, eat less, and become way less active than before. His once round head tends to be pointier, and his movements become wobblier at an unhurried pace.
You will notice signs of an ageing hamster when they start to bump on things more often – loss of hearing means slower movement. When you shake the packaging of their favourite treat, they come slower, and you often have to call them twice. Loss of smell is also a common symptom which inhibits the ability to find the treat you just dropped or dangled in their cage.
Chronic kidney failure is also commonly seen in ageing hamsters, which may be accompanied by fur loss and can happen suddenly when the kidney starts to fail. Fur or hair loss can occur for several reasons and can be due to genes, disease, and non-diseases, which can somewhat be a common problem in hamsters reaching over a year and a plus.
Another cause of fur loss is protein and vitamin deficiency. Lack of vitamin B in your hamsters’ diet can lead to fur loss and fatigue. Other supplements to include to your hamster diet rich with B6 bition, inositol(vital for fur growth), and folic acid (B vitamins) can be derived from unsweetened breakfast cereals and whole-wheat pasta, cheese, boiled egg, yoghurt, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
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The number one reason that can cause a lot of discomfort to your hamsters is parasites. Worms, for example, can live for a long time without them showing any apparent symptoms. If your hamster is suffering from weight loss and diarrhoea, it’s likely high that your pet is infected with an internal parasite.
A sudden weight change can show you many things about your hamster’s health. A sudden weight drop indicates that your hamster is not eating well, which can be due to overgrown teeth, broken teeth, or parasites. If you notice your hamster experiencing weight loss and diarrhoea, give it a thorough regular health check. Also, make sure to refill your hamster’s water bowl often to avoid any bacteria building up in it, match it with once in two weeks deep cleaning of the entire cage including the water bottle.
Ageing hamsters don’t have their appetite as usual. If your hamster is not eating all the different types of food in their mix or ignoring items that are harder to chew, they might be feeling uncomfortable.
Address it as a symptom before it becomes life-threatening. If your hamster doesn’t do things like respond to your voice or presence or run around and beg to be taken out of the cage for a while, it is highly likely that your hamster is lacking energy for some reason.
Some hamsters are just lazier and sleep a lot more than others. But not just because hamsters are asleep when you see them, does not make them lazy. An average hamster can run more than 5 miles on its wheel at a time. Place a marker on the bike that will tell you if your hamster has used it or not while you are asleep or away.
HOW TO MAKE CAGE COMFORTABLE FOR AN AGEING HAMSTER
There are multiple types of hamster cages available right now. Some are made using metal wire, stainless steel, durable plastic, and glass. Some, however, offer poorer ventilation. This habitat should have open-air circulation to prevent high humidity and high temperature.
A hamster cage is one of the greatest investments when it comes to providing proper hamster care. So, when choosing an enclosure from the beginning, do a lot of research. You want to look at the ones that you can small downsize which is required when a hamster gets older.
Remove Stairs and Wheels
Hamsters use their wheels less and less once they age; it’s time to remove them to avoid accidents and bump their heads on obstacles once you notice they hardly use them. You should also remove hard surfaces to keep them from biting their teeth; senior hamsters can easily break a tooth and can lead to more infections.
Old-age hamsters require more cleaning. Younger ones usually pee on the litter box that you put in, but a senior hamster will not keep peeing in a single zone. Your elder hamster will likely pee wherever it needs to, its very old age will also pee in its burrow nest.
Changing of Bedding
You’ll notice that old hamsters don’t leave dropping that much. They won’t be eating a lot, so it only makes sense that they have less poop. A senior hamster’s cage looks tidier, but be sure to change beddings often because old hamsters pee everywhere.
When changing your hamster’s cage bedding, do it less often and very gradually (only take a portion of soiled litter and replace it with a new one, then again in a few days) to avoid stressing them and disturbing them too much. Use softer bedding like shredded toilet paper or Aspen; they prefer these things much better instead of wood.
Start Downsizing the Cage
If you notice that your elder hamster is starting to slow their pace down and seems like they spend more time sleeping than playing or burrowing, it’s time to start downsizing their cage. We don’t recommend this overnight, it should be at the right pace to avoid stressing or shocking then.
Senior hamsters will need to be able to access their food and water without moving too much. If you don’t want to buy a new and smaller cage (or don’t have one), you can simply block parts of the cage by adding some dividers. In this way, the hamster would not be subjected to too much change of scenery.
Keep the Cage Warm
Cold temperatures can cause all types of problems to your hammies. It’s essential to keep your ageing hamster cage warmer. You can layer the underside of the cage with a thick blanket but don’t cover the entire cage; air must still flow properly. The sheet traps heat from within. It’s a low-suitable cost, low-maintenance solution, and warm enough for an ageing hamster’s needs.
Move the cage away from drafty windows, doors, or fans and even air-conditioning. Your hamster can immediately heat up without a cold wind or temperature. It’s best to place the cage somewhere warmer to keep your elder hamster more comfortable.
Another way to keep the cage warm is by placing a heating pad, particularly near your hamster’s favourite sleeping area. Just make sure that it’s properly sealed and unplug in case your hamster tried to chew the wires.
Add More Dens and Remove Toys
Hamsters nearing senior age soon stop using toys and will prefer to burrow somewhere in their cage. It’s best to start removing their toys that can cause harm and place dens or hideouts instead. Your ageing hamster feels more secure if they have somewhere dim to hide, rest, and sleep.
Cardboard boxes make an excellent hamster hideout or dens. It’s not difficult to find; however, you must replace it every time you clean their cage. But be sure to avoid anything with paint, ink or any coatings, it could be toxic to your hamster. You can quickly build a hideout by cutting a hamster-sized hole in a cardboard box or simply an empty toilet paper roll and then putting it somewhere in their cage.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO FOR AN ELDERLY HAMSTER
An old hamster will have a hard time getting around its cage. It’s a good idea to help your senior hamster by moving their food, water bottle, and other necessary things they like closer to their burrowed sleeping area. Of course, we want them to stay healthy and, hopefully, they will live until their golden years, here are also some things we could do for an old critter friend.
Cuddle Your Hamster
Despite hamsters’ lonesome behaviour, hamsters love cuddles. This fluffy creature is even known to fall asleep on the hands or lap of its human parent.
They like to be held to feel warm, so whenever you can scoop up your hamster, cuddle him, and rub him for a bit. Cuddling is one way to show affection and make them feel secure and safe in a closed space, which is essential to the hamsters’ overall health.
No Need to Feel Guilty
If you are feeling guilty for making mistakes before (e.g poor type of cage in the beginning), forgive yourself. Know that your hamster acknowledges all the work you did and the time together. Your hamster felt loved and well-looked after under your care, and with that, you should be proud.
Now, for the last time, they will need you to be strong for them and show them how much they mean to you. I’m sure your hamster will cross the rainbow bridge feeling thankful for having a life with you.
Shower with Love and Treats
Shower your hamster with its favourite treat as much as you can and avoid forcing them to play or come out if they’re not feeling up for it. If your ageing hamster is a bit energetic and wants to explore the cage, then it’s a good time for you to give little treat bits, not big pieces.
You should also often talk to them in a calm and soft voice when they’re active. Talking to your hamsters is a useful technique if you’re trying to build love and trust. It’s essential to be around daily and interact with them if you’re trying to strengthen the bond between you and your hamster.
Most owners would like to bury their hamsters in a pot and plant a lovely flower/plant on top of it. Some would dig a beautiful resting place in their gardens and plant over or put a sign to show affection and remembrance. If your hamster passes away during winter and can’t dig, you can place them inside a storage box and freeze the body until the time for a proper burial.
One way to mourn your hamster’s death is a proper burial with any ceremony you feel is appropriate for your departed critter friend. You can wrap the hamster’s dead body in cloth or place him in his homemade coffin fashioned from cardboard boxes. Next is to say goodbye to your hamster in a meaningful way.
Hamsters can make a significant part of the family. Although they only have a short life span, you can make them feel beloved and have the most enjoyable time in their life. Take pictures, engage, and spend as much time with them as possible and cherish all the right time you and your hamsters spent together.
It’s vital to take on obligations when you’re planning to have one. By providing them with the best possible care, you can make the last year of your hammies life less stressful and painful. I hope this article about taking care of an elderly hamster has been useful for you. If you have more tips, let us know in the comment section below.