When your hamster begins to show signs of aging, you will need to modify his cage to make it easier for him to move around, feed him softer and easier-to-chew food, assist him in grooming, and pay more attention to his health without having to go back and forth to the veterinarian, which will only stress him out further.
If you want to know more details about how to take care of an old hamster, read on.
What are the signs of old age in hamsters?
First, let’s look at how to tell if my hamster has reached senior status and what signs of old age in hamsters are.
Hamsters have a short lifespan, and in general, a hamster begins to age as soon as it is one year old, as it reaches maturity after only two months.
Hamsters are considered middle-aged when they reach the age of one year.
Because a hamster is considered old when it reaches the age of 18 months (one and a half years), the following advice is only applicable to hamsters 13 months and older.
❖ Signs that your hamster is growing old include:
We can tell when a hamster is getting old because it exhibits certain characteristics. These characteristics are shared by all hamsters, and the following are the most common:
- The pace of your hamster’s life will slow, and he will become less active.
- Because there is less grooming and fewer sandbaths, you must assist your hamster in keeping himself as clean as possible.
- The hamster will use his wheel less frequently and for a shorter period of time than before.
- His 5 senses will deteriorate, he will not hear as well as he used to (he will react less to noise and your voice), his eyesight (due to cataracts) and hearing will also deteriorate, so he will not venture out as much as he used to, and most importantly, he will not look for and find his food and will not dig in his litter box as much, so keep his food in plain sight in his bowl.
- The back is becoming increasingly curved.
- With the onset of cataract, eyes become increasingly closed and lose their brightness.
- Your hamster will sleep a little more than before as it ages, and you will see it less and less, and its appearances will be brief.
- Your hamster will sleep anywhere in his cage (openly), on his wheel, in his sandbox, or just in the middle of his cage.
- Hamsters lose weight gradually as they age, 1 gr to 2 gr over several days; however, rapid weight loss can conceal other diseases.
- The hamster will lose its curves, develop a thin face, and you will be able to distinguish its neck and spine.
- The old hamster will begin to lose hair, and his fur (particularly on the top of his head) will become thinner and thinner, revealing some of his skin.
- Your hamster will not eat or drink as much as he used to, and he will lose his ability to eat hard food (hard, chewy seeds).
- As hamsters age, they may develop kidney problems.
How do I take care of an old hamster?
Hamsters that are getting old, like humans, will require some assistance and new accommodations.
So here’s what you can do to make your senior hamster’s life easier:
- An old hamster needs a suitable cage
You can downgrade its enclosure to a bin cage, which is not too small but is just a biot smaller than the standard one (not less than 500 inches square).
It’s also time to relocate your aging hamster’s cage to a quieter location with an ideal room temperature that doesn’t fluctuate overnight, that is dry and away from drafts and direct sunlight.
Remove the shelves
They will feel colder (keep the temperature between 20-23°C / 68-75°F), so dress accordingly.
Softer bedding, such as paper-based bedding.
You should keep your old hamster’s cage at a good temperature and avoid cold spells and sudden drafts, as well as extra nesting material like toilet paper (so they can use it to stay warm).
Increase the amount of substrate.
Change the litter box more frequently because an older hamster will urinate all over the cage and will not reserve two or three spots specifically for toileting (like he used to do).
Remove any climbing toys, stairs, or other items that your old hamster might venture onto and risk a fatal fall.
Remove all hard materials that they used to chew on to prevent them from breaking their teeth, which have become brittle with age.
Keep the wheel turned on so he can keep exercising, especially if you move him to a smaller cage.
You can remove the wheel if your vet recommends it to avoid tiring out your hamster’s heart.
- An older hamster needs a special diet
As your hamster ages, its digestive system becomes tired, and digestion becomes more difficult and slow.
You will also notice that your hamster is eating less and dropping less than before in his cage.
You should modify his diet to reflect his advanced age, as his teeth will become fragile and easily break if he bites into a hard seed shell.
His jaw will also lose some strength, so remove the seed shells whenever possible.
Your aging hamster will also need a food that is richer in nutrients and protein but easier to chew such as:
- Boiled and scrambled eggs
- Baby food like Love child organics (apple, sweet potato, broccoli and spinach)
- Wet the pellet ration and make it as pasta that will be easy to chew on and swallow
- walnuts, carrots and boiled brown rice
- Low fat cottage cheese, cooked fish or chicken meat
- Steamed veggies
- Dry or soaked Wheetabix
- Low fat natural yogurt
- Fresh corn (small amount)
The idea is to give your senior hamster more fresh food that is easy to chew and digest, such as vegetables he enjoys eating and pieces of fruit that are high in vitamins but not too sweet.
You can also use a blender to pre-mix his food (you can make a soft paw of his seeds and his dry food).
Don’t forget to make it easier for your hamster to get his food and water by bringing it closer to his nest. Also, instead of scattering his dry beards throughout the cage, place them right next to his food bowl.
When a hamster gets older, it will find it more difficult to drink from the bottle, so provide a bowl of water for your hamster.
- Help your old hamster stay clean
Your hamster will begin to neglect its cleanliness as it ages.
You’ll notice that he has a dirty backside and fur that isn’t smooth and clumpy.
Your elderly hamster will not take as many sand baths as he used to because these baths require agility that an elderly hamster lacks.
You will assist your hamster in cleaning himself and eventually taking daily sand baths to smooth his fur, remove excess oil, and maintain a well-insulated fur that will keep him warm at night.
Your hamster is accustomed to doing most of his exercise at night, but as he ages, he will become colder at night as a result of hair loss and a lack of food.
As a result, you must assist your hamster in staying warm at night and, more importantly, encourage him to exercise.
You will have to assist your hamster in exercising by encouraging him to use his wheel; simply take him and place him on it; he may not be able to climb on his wheel on his own and it would be nice to assist him.
Don’t push him too hard; remember that a two-year-old hamster is the equivalent of nearly 80 years in human years.
- Pay closer attention to symptoms of common hamster diseases
Your old hamster’s immune system will deteriorate because he isn’t eating as much as he used to, and he is likely deficient in minerals and vitamins.
As a result, you should provide him with supplements while also paying close attention to symptoms of common hamster diseases such as wet tail and discharge from the eyes, nose, and ears.
This way, you could intervene and remove your old hamster from the beginning of the disease, potentially saving his life.
You should not put them through unnecessary stress by taking them to the vet on a regular basis!
You should be aware that as your hamster ages, it will exhibit symptoms that may worry you but are entirely normal for an elderly hamster, as I explained at the beginning of this article.
You simply have to let your hamster go about his business at his own pace, and don’t be alarmed if you notice him sleeping in his wheel or eating less.
- An elderly hamster will undoubtedly die one day
When the time comes to let your hamster go, do so for its own good rather than trying to keep it alive despite its suffering.
When the time comes for your hamster to leave, he will surely let you know in some way, and you must respect his will and let him go in peace rather than making him suffer more with trips to the vet and treatments that will only prolong his suffering.
Explain to your children that death is a part of your hamster’s life and allow your hamster to go to hamster heaven as well.
Why is my old hamster squeaking?
Squeaking is typically used by hamsters to express their displeasure, anger, stress, or pain from a broken leg or boot or a bad back.
However, if your hamster is old and you know he doesn’t have much time left to live, it could be something more serious. something far more serious
When sleeping, older hamsters may have noisy breathing, which could indicate that your hamster does not have much time left to live (less than 48 hours usually).
Hamsters may squeak when they are in pain, irritated, hungry, or simply want you to leave them alone.
If this is the first time your hamster squeaks in this manner, perhaps without stopping, I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for advice.
Why is my old hamster shaking?
An old hamster shakes, especially when it’s cold, because their fur isn’t as well insulated as it was when they were young, and their hair is sloppy, less dense, and clumpy as a result of poor care.
You should therefore provide bedding for your hamster, change its litter box more frequently, use paper-based bedding, and ensure that its cage is kept at an ideal temperature throughout the day and night.
Give your hamster toilet paper to stuff into its nest to make a warm, well-insulated bed.
But generally, hamsters shake for the same reasons whether they are old or young, the reasons are often the same:
- A physical or emotional strain
When he is in hibernation, it is necessary to gradually wake him up by raising his body temperature and forcing him to drink or eat something energetic (a piece of fruit).
Usually, a little comfort and a few cuddles are enough to calm your hamster and stop shaking.
Sneezing, wheezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, wetness around the tail, diarrhea, and huddling in a corner are all signs of impending hamster death.
A one-year-old hamster is actually 40 years old, as they begin to age on their first birthday.
You will pay attention to your hamster and recognize when it is time to start adapting his life to his age, cage, and food.
When the time comes to let your hamster go, don’t try to hold him back with medication because it will only cause him pain.
If you’ve done this research for your children, prepare them for the fact that your hamster is approaching the end of his life and will undoubtedly have to leave them one day to go to hamster heaven.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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