There are many reasons why a hamster would stop eating. Often, it’s nothing too serious and you just have to leave your hamster alone for a while. Not eating is common to new hamsters who are still transitioning from pet store life or from a bad home to their new one.
In this article, we will answer the question “why is my hamster not eating”. We will discuss the reasons and solutions how to make your hamster eat again and making sure that everything is alright with your pet.
REASONS WHY IS MY HAMSTER NOT EATING
First. let’s discuss the common reasons why a hamster doesn’t want to have stopped eating altogether. From, here, you can take certain actions in solving this issue.
This should be where your mind goes first. Not to alarm you, it’s just, if a hamster is not eating and if it has something to do with their health or feeling under the weather, you want to take action as fast as possible to get the help they needed.
Common illnesses to hamsters that can cause lost appetite is the wet tail (diarrhoea) and bumblefoot.
A wet tail can happen if your hamster is experiencing food poisoning or eating too much fruit or vegetable that have high water consistency. While bumblefoot is when your hamster’s feet are injured or are swollen due to an unsuitable running wheel and bedding or litter. This means your hamster can’t walk on their feet to get to the food bowl or to their hoarded food.
Dry mix gone stale
Dry mixes can go stale just like dried food and no one likes stale bread or biscuits. Food that your hamster hideaway lasts a bit longer and probably they are dipping on those dry mixes instead of eating the stale ones on their food bowl.
You switched to a new brand
Perhaps you switched to a new brand for dry mixes that has more vegetables or protein or simply to shake things up. However, hamsters are not great when it comes to changes. Their loss of appetite could be because of the new and unfamiliar type, smell, and taste that comes with the new one you are trying.
Due to old age, hamsters can also lose their appetite. Perhaps they are feeling not so well or since ageing hamsters don’t move a lot in this stage of their life, it means they don’t need to eat a lot. Often, they would just get their food from the pile they made near their sleeping area.
Infected cheek pouches/mouth problems
We all know that hamsters’ cheek pouches play a big role in their daily life. These pouches stretch all the way to their hip area, meaning they can and will try to fit anything in them without second-guessing especially if it is edible.
Cheek pouches become infected because your hamster put something in there that are unsafe such as live mealworm with head, something sharp that caused a wound, rotten vegetable, meat, or fruit, and filthy bedding to name a few.
Food became too boring
A switch to a new brand of the dry mix can make your hamster not want to eat but the same kind of dry mix can also bring a dull atmosphere when it comes to feeding. This happens especially if the dry mix doesn’t have lots of variety.
If the mixes only have 3-4 kinds of food in there such as sunflower seed, dried corn, oats, and seeds – that is not only boring but also not a balanced diet for a hamster.
Eating from stashed food
Hamsters hoard food, that’s just common knowledge. Hamsters are also most active during the night. Hence, it’s possible that you just don’t see your hamster eat from their food bowl or their food bowl seems untouched. It’s likely that your hamster prefers to eat from their hidden food stash
Especially if this stash is becoming too big or their favourite bits are no longer in the food bowl. For example, if your hamster’s favourite is the sunflower seeds and the food bowl no longer has them. You bet the hoarded food still has them and that’s where your hamster prefers to eat.
Stress and anxiety is super common with hamsters. Being prey animals, hamsters’ defence or guard is always up. Sudden noise or any changes can trigger stress and anxiety in your hamster.
Not eating hamster is common to the ones who just got home from the pet store or was rescued from neglecting family.
Due to changes, your hamster might prefer to hide away until they feel comfortable and have left their scent on every spot of their cage to mark their territory.
Why is my hamster not eating? Maybe because your hamsters that are in heat also suffer from the sudden loss of appetite. Instead, they would run around (hoping to find a mate), keep themselves busy to burn their extra energy, or they rather sleep than eat. Hamsters are in heat every 4 days.
HOW TO MAKE MY HAMSTER EAT
Not eating enough food is concerning and hamsters can’t keep this up, they have to eat to keep themselves at a healthy weight. Here are things you can do to make your hamster eat without forcing or traumatizing them.
Check if your hamster is sick
This should be your first action. See if your hamster is sick, you can often tell if they don’t want to come out of their den, they are obviously weaker, they sleep a lot, shaking, squeaking, visible bald spots, not playing or running on the wheel, and aggressive. You should also check if wounds, broken legs, or some bleeding.
If they are showing any signs but you cannot pinpoint what’s the problem, it’s best to contact your exotic vet for some help. If you know what’s wrong, you can also call the vet and see what home remedies you can do.
Switch back to the old dry mix or try a new one
If you are trying a new brand and believe that the new dry mix is much better, give it a couple more days. If nothing is changing, you can either switch back to the old one (assuming it’s offering balanced nutrients) or try a new one.
Refill the food
This is applicable to stale dry mixes. Make sure to refill the food bowl every 3 days and properly close the packaging to keep them fresh. You should throw away the stale ones from the food bowl before adding new ones – don’t mix your own dry mixes with new ones.
Keep the cage clean
A filthy cage can cause a drop in morale and of course, sickness. If a hamster places dirty bedding inside their cheek pouches, it can cause irritation and even infection. Make sure to do spot cleaning every 3 days and deep cleaning once in 6 weeks. Here’s a guide on how to clean a hamster’s cage.
Provide cooked food
Dry mixes are not enough food for your hamster, they don’t provide all the nutrients to keep your hamster healthy and happy. It’s important that you provide cooked and unseasoned (not even salt or pepper) food such as boiled and/or scrambled eggs (white only), boiled lean chicken, boiled vegetables, and fresh fruits.
Cooked food will also keep your hamster interested during feeding time and will help to keep or build trust between the two of you. Cooked food is a great way to use especially when taming your hamster and introducing yourself or your scent to them.
While cooked and fresh food is great, it should’ve been given in moderation too. If there are too much, your hamster will stash this food in their cheek, if this food stays in the cheek for far too long, it could rot and cause infection. If they hide this food in their “pile”, it might rot and cause the growth of bacteria.
When giving them fresh and cooked food, give to them little by little, making sure they are eating most of them and not stashing them inside the pouch.
No sharp objects
Sharp objects often come from wood shaving bedding and toys made of wood. You might not notice, shredded wood as bedding often comes with sharp, long woods that are not properly shredded or chopped.
Running wheel, hideouts, and tunnels that are made of wood also have the tendency to have sharp objects poking out of them, like a splinter. Make sure you inspect the bedding or the toy before giving them to your hamster.
Sharp points can injure your hamster if they bump or trip on them or if they place them inside their mouth or cheek pouches.
Treats are not cheated meals. Giving your hamster treats have lots of benefits such as training your hamster to learn who you are, teaching them to trust you, great things to have during the taming process, and the best way to interact with your pet.
If you notice that your hamster is eating less, use their favourite treats to lure them out of the cage and see if they take them. If they don’t come out after luring them with their favourite treats, it could be a sign that either your hamster can’t walk or is unwell – either way, check on them and contact your vet immediately.
Cut live mealworm head
Live mealworms have higher protein than dried mealworm. The problem is, if you give them to your hamster live without cutting the head, this head might bite your hamster’s cheek pouch or mouth and can cause infection. Make sure to cut the head before handing the fresh mealworm to your pet.
Move to food bowl
For ageing or recovering hamsters (from sickness or giving birth), you should move the food bowl near to their sleeping area so they don’t need to travel too far for food and enjoy the fresh dry mixes.
Leave them alone
If the loss of appetite is due to stress or anxiety, it’s best if you let your hamster alone. If the hamster is new, leaving them alone will let them have the time to settle down, run around the cage to get to know it, and leave them scent for navigation and territorial purposes.
It’s best to leave your hamster for at least a week if they are new to their cage. Stress can also come from a loud environment causing your hamster to rather hide than eat. Make sure their cage is in a cool, shaded, and quiet room so they will feel safe to explore their cage.
If your hamster stopped eating or eating less, the best thing you can do is not to panic. Gather yourself and observe their behaviour. If they are up and about and doing their thing, it could just be because they are eating from hidden food or they need a refill on their food bowl.
If they are showcasing something that is concerning, it won’t hurt to hold your hamster and see if they are looking unwell and call for an emergency vet visit to address the problem.
I hope we answered your question “why is my hamster not eating” and that we helped you find the solution.