Why your hamster is not eating?
When your hamster is not eating, there are several possible reasons for this, including stress, illness, dental issues, poor housing and many other conditions, here is a list of common reasons why hamsters won’t eat and how to get them to eat again.
1- New hamster may not eat
The first reason why a hamster may refuse to eat and even drink is when it changes habitat, that is to say the first two or three days when it arrives at your home.
Don’t worry, this is a normal behavior of new hamsters, it is due to the stress and the feeling of insecurity in his new enclosure.
He will quickly start eating again, give him a day or two to get used to you and his new environment, and it will be Ok, he will start eating and drinking again.
It may take more than a week for your new hamster to get used to you and your pets and start eating in front of you.
Sometimes your hamster will become nervous, stressed and lose his appetite just if you change the elements of the cage to their usual place, the wheel is no longer in the usual corner for example.
Moving the cage can also be the cause, since pet hamster are very sensitive to noise and new enclosure ”decoration” as well.
2- Your hamster is not eating in your presence
It could be that your hamster is not hungry or eats but you do not see it because it eats during the night, when you sleep or simply took its food in its nest or it stores and feeds without you seeing it do so.
As you know hamsters are nocturnal and sometimes, while you’re sleeping the hamster empties his food bowl but you never see him eat, you may have to think about taming him if you haven’t already done so.
If your hamster is avoiding you and feeds without you seeing it, you will find feces in its enclosure. If you have the idea of checking its nests to make sure it is storing its food, wait until it wakes up and comes out of its nest, never wake your hamster up.
3- Your hamster does not like its new food (switched diet)
It could be that you have bought a hamster that is used to eating only pellets and you never offer him that! or the opposite, maybe your hamster is used to eating a balanced food, composed of a mixture of seeds, plants and you only give him pellets.
It is always a good thing to ask the seller when you buy your hamster to give you a sample of his usual food so that you do not change his diet suddenly and risk making him sick or completely refuse to eat his new food.
4- Your hamster won’t eat because of switching diet
If you change your hamster’s (switched food) brand or introduce a new food, he may not eat because he may get sick.
In this case, your hamster will eat the food he has stored in his nest and will not touch the food you put in his bowl.
When you want to change your hamster’s food, do it gradually, over a period of about 10 days or 2 weeks, abrupt changes are dangerous for the hamster.
5- A sick hamster may stop eating and drinking
One of the symptoms of common hamster illnesses is when it stops eating. A hamster that has the flu, wet tail, stress, constipation, diarrhea, a toothache, an abscess,… will automatically stop eating.
Abscesses are also known to be behind this behavior. hamster abscesses that are located around the mouth and cheeks are the ones that usually prevent hamsters from feeding.
You will need to find the source of the infection and treat it, in order to get rid of the abscess and then disinfect it so that your hamster can start feeding again.
If your hamster is not eating because of illness, you will also notice one or more of these hamster diseases symptoms:
- He will become a bit aggressive, may start bare biting and hyperactivity
- Loose stools and/or diarrhea
- Vomiting and weight loss
- He may become nervous and suddenly afraid of you
- Neglected coat or excessive scratching
6- A hamster with oro-dental problem will not eat
If your hamster suddenly stops eating and you don’t see any other external reason or symptoms of illness and you haven’t changed its usual food, you should know that it is either its teeth that have become too long, may be an irregular growths.
Your pet hamster may also have a wound or gash inside its mouth, a broken tooth because it chewed something hard or an abscess inside its mouth because of an infected tooth.
You can grab your hamster behind the neck and gently pull its cheeks while gently squeezing your fingers to encourage it to open its mouth and let you look inside to check it out.
7- A dying hamster will also lose its appetite
Unfortunately, when it’s an old hamster and it stops feeding and you see no reason for it, know that it may be a sign that your old hamster will soon leave you.
There are other signs that you should check too, like the complete stop of the activity, your hamster will stay in a corner and not move anymore.
If you understand that your hamster is dying, don’t make it difficult for him and it’s not worth taking him to the vet except to relieve his pain if he is suffering and make his passage to hamster heaven sweeter.
8- Your hamster is bored and wants a new diet
Your hamster doesn’t want to eat anymore because he wants some enrichment a new food, the food you give him bores him and he doesn’t want it anymore!
This is often the case with people who feed them exclusively pellets, hamsters need to eat something else, a really good and well balanced hamster food, they will feel the need to eat seeds, plants, fruits,… to satisfy their nutritional needs.
If your food does not meet the nutritional needs of the hamster, it will stop eating. You must also vary the food of your hamster and avoid giving him always the same thing.
Create a schedule and your hamster should have one or more different vegetables each day, for example, along with its usual dry food ration.
Vary also his protein food, one day a mealworm, the other a piece of boiled egg and the other a cricket.
9- Heat can be the reason for your hamster’s loss of appetite
When it is too hot, hamster suffering from heatstroke may stop eating, especially dry food and seeds that contain oil, so you need to give more fresh food for your hamster so that it has some nutrients and vitamins and also hydrates not to risk a heat stroke.
Give your hamster foods that contain a lot of water like a small piece of watermelon or a square of apple, you will reduce the risk of heat stroke. Also consider giving him fresh water and try to gradually lower the temperature of the room.
10- Poisoning or poor housing
Hamsters may stop eating if the food is spoiled or if they have eaten spoiled food that they found in their food supply.
A pet hamster spends a lot of time each day cleaning itself, poor cage hygiene can also cause hamsters to stop eating, so always check your hamster’s nests, especially in hot weather, to remove food before it develops bacteria and makes the hamster sick, you can replace its bedding as well.
If your hamster shows signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, muscle stiffness, be aware that it is not eating because it has eaten something that has poisoned it and made it sick.
A visit to the vet may be necessary if the situation lasts more than 48 hours.
11- Constipation may be the reason your hamster refuses to eat
A hamster that is suffering from constipation will stop feeding or will not eat as much as usual. If your hamster is constipated, you will still find some small than usual, hard and dry feces in his enclosure and will often have a bent back and in severe cases, tubular structure that protrudes from the anus.
You will try to give him a few pieces of high fiber veggies, such as spinach, lettuce and pears and also encourage him to drink more water and if he keeps refusing to eat, you will have to seek veterinary help.
12- Your dwarf hamster refuses to eat because of his cage mate
Hamsters are solitary animals, except during the mating season and for a short period only.
They are very territorial, so if you put two or more “adult” hamsters in the same enclosure and one of them doesn’t eat, be aware that his companion won’t let him go near the food bowl.
It is recommended to put only one adult hamster per cage to avoid conflicts over food, enrichment, wheel and toys.
13- A hamster can stop feeding because of the cold (Torpor)
Hamsters can suddenly stop feeding and begin to prepare to enter a state of torpor, similar to hibernation but often interrupted.
This can happen on very cold winter days and if your hamster seems to be sleeping all the time and his food bowl stays full most of the time, you should know that he is hibernating.
You will need to bring him out of this state of torpor slowly and then try to keep the room above 40°F / 4.5°C.
What to do when a hamster refuses to eat?
If you notice that your hamster is not eating, you’ll want to pay closer attention to its behavior, to try to detect other symptoms.
Look for signs of illness in your hamster so that you know whether to take it to the vet.
But you should not let your hamster starve to death, you will mostly give him water with a 1ML syringe and give him baby food or boiled pasta.
If your hamster is fed exclusively with pellets, which of course I do not recommend, you can soak its pellets in hot water, wait a little and take them out, crush them and make a paste easy to chew by your hamster.
Do not hesitate to take your hamster to the vet if you see these signs:
- If your hamster seems lethargic and weak
- If this situation goes on for a day or more
- If your hamster has severe diarrhea (wet tail)
- If your hamster huddles all day and night in a corner of its cage and does not move
A hamster that doesn’t eat is a hamster that can’t regulate its body temperature anymore, so you should use an electric heating pad for example to make sure your hamster stays warm while waiting to be checked by a vet.
My hamster refuses to drink
If your hamster refuses to drink water, it is not uncommon that it is a disease, wet tail or diarrhea are the diseases that usually cause this.
Some hamsters are used to using the bottle to drink but when they get old or injured, they may not be able to use the bottle anymore and a bowl of water should be added to the enclosure.
To prevent your hamster from dehydration, you will take him to a vet but before, you can give him water or a little Pedialyte Electrolyte with a syringe, which you introduce on the side of his mouth, not the front!
Finally, I advise you to learn the habits not only food ones of your hamster but all its usual behavior in order to detect any change in behavior, especially those that follow of lack of appetite.
A hamster can stay 3 days without eating, and if your hamster refuses to eat after that, you should take him to a veterinarian.
For more general questions about feeding your hamster, add a comment below to let us know!
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