Causes of sudden death in hamsters

Causes of sudden death in hamsters

Hamsters are common small pets in many countries as they are a group of common "starter" pets for younger kids due to their small size, relatively easy-care, and vast availability.

The short lifespan of hamsters can be appealing for parents who want to get a pet for their child but don’t want to get stuck with it when their child moves out. Unfortunately, many hamsters die unexpectedly or seemingly "for no reason.” In some cases, two hamsters who are housed together will both die within a short time of time or even at the same time. It should be noted that this is a very common occurrence and is often not the fault of the owner.


Even though it looks like hamsters could die with no warning, some pets are known to hide their illness until they are too sick to do so. This is usually when they are junctures away from death. This is why it is crucial to take seriously any difference in your pet’s behavior, as the indications of illness are always extremely subtle.

It is a potential red flag if your hamster shows any of the following symptoms;

  • If your hamster becomes less active when it is still in its prime, this can be a sign of advanced illness.
  • When your pet has Anorexia or change in appetite
  • If your hamster keeps drinking or urinating
  • If your hamster has an unkempt coat
  • If your hamster keeps sleeping
  • If your hamster experiences labored breathing
  • If your hamster excessively grooms itself

It is important to have necessary HAMSTER HEALTHCARE products at home and  take into account the type of HAMSTER FOOD & TREATS

given to your pet to avoid illnesses that would have been prevented.


Common factors or illnesses that lead to hamster death

  1. Heart Disease

Congestive heart failure in hamsters can lead to death of hamsters. This could occur when older hamsters or hamsters with a genetic tendency have weakened heart muscles that cannot efficiently pump blood. Symptoms include respiratory distress, erratic movements, edema and blueish color to the skin.


  1. Stress

Even though stress is not a disease, it is a condition that can dramatically affect your hamster’s lifespan by weakening its immune systems, leading to illness.  It is commonly indicated that hamsters that have died unexpectedly died from a heart attack or stroke, which can be caused by acute or chronic stress.


  1. Age

Even though age is not a disease, it is also a justification for why hamsters die.

A Hamster lives a typical lifespan of 18 months to a year with a maximum of three years. If you adopt your hamster at an adult age and have no information on how old it is, your hamster could have easily been near the completion of its natural lifespan.

Advanced age in animals can also worsen some undetected preexisting ailments.


  1. Pneumonia

This infection is probably the second most commonly occurring potentially lethal disease in hamsters. Some of the bacterium associated with pneumonia include Diplococcus sp, Pasteurella neurotropic, Streptococcus sp. and Staphylococci sp.


  1. Cancer

The common cancer hamsters experience is called neoplasia. Hamsters experience this in their gastrointestinal tract, hematopoietic system, skin area, and appendages.

Lymphoma is also one of the most frequently reported cancers of the hematopoietic system. Hamsters plagued with cutaneous lymphoma may have anorexia, patchy hair loss, and weight loss.


  1. Hamster polyomavirus (HaPV)

This causes epizootic lymphoma in small Syrian hamsters and epitheliomas in the older enzootically infected hamsters. This will later develop into skin tumors


  1. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LMCV)

This is a zoonotic disease that can be transferred to humans. It is very fatal in small rodents. The symptoms include wasting, anorexia, lethargy, weight loss, convulsions, blepharitis, and hunched posture.


  1. Degenerative renal disease

This affects older hamsters and has a higher preponderance in females, with amyloid deposition formation as a simultaneous event.

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