Hamsters look like adorable little fluff balls. They have a naturally chubby look which I just swoon over. Because they have that naturally chubby look, though, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’re just looking normal, or they’ve packed on a few too many pounds.
So, is my hamster overweight? Should he go on a diet?
What are the signs of obesity in hamsters?
Weight really depends on a hamster’s age and what type it is. But, because most pet hamsters are Syrian, a good guideline to use is usually that they should be about an ounce for every inch long. About 5-7 ounces, then, would be considered a pretty healthy weight. If you have a little dwarf though, of course they’re gonna be smaller. And littler. And so stinkin’ cute.
Another way to tell is by paying attention to your pet’s behavior. If it doesn’t walk around as much or use its exercise wheel, this means it may be overweight. Having a vet check your hamster is a good idea at this point.
As we’ve mentioned, it may be difficult to tell if your pet is obese or just really fluffy. They are usually plump, and on top of that, their cheek pouches can make them appear fat.
If you’re not sure, you don’t have to measure it just yet. Simply offer your pet a treat and once it has it in its mouth and its cute little hands, lift it up gently and take a look at its body.
If the shapes are lean and flat, you have nothing to worry about. But if even in this position you notice similar plumpness, round lines instead of straight, you’ll know it’s time for a hamster diet.
Why is my hamster overweight?
Too much food
Usually, the reason behind your hamster becoming obese is simply the amount of food it eats.
You should always pay attention to how much you feed your pet, as hamsters are known to hide their food. So, if you think it’s eating too fast so it must be hungry, think again.
The fact is that a good portion of the food you give it for the day will be stashed away.
This is their natural behavior, regardless of their habitat. Hamsters are foragers, and in nature, they will travel long distances to find something to eat.
But they won’t eat everything they come across. Most of it will be stashed inside their cheek pouches to hide for later.
And your little friend does the same thing. It doesn’t matter that it has its own little living area, or that it gets food on a regular basis, their instinct is to bury the seeds under bedding all around the cage, or in their house.
For a Syrian hamster, two teaspoons of dry food a day are more than enough. Resist the urge to put in more if you see that the bowl is empty. This just means that it gathered everything, ate just enough, and hid the rest.
If the bowl still has some food, that’s perfectly fine and means that it still has some food stashed away.
Always check with a vet how much food you are supposed to give to your hamster.
Too much sugar
Another reason your pet may be overweight is the type of food it’s eating.
Hamsters love indulging in sweet, sweet fruit and nuts. Nuts are a great treat and as such should be given rarely.
Fruit and veggies are also good as they provide additional nutrients but can have a lot of sugar which can cause health problems. Be careful of the amount of sugar and nuts your pet eats.
Lack of exercise
Everyone needs a good exercise to stay healthy and fit. Especially pets.
Providing your hamster with enough room to run around is a great way to make sure it doesn’t get overweight. But space in its cage isn’t enough.
Having an exercise wheel is a must. An additional solution is to put your hamster in an exercise ball when you let it outside. This way, you are certain it won’t eat or touch anything it’s not supposed to, and it will get a good work out.
Floor time is good. Allow your hamster to safely explore your home or room. Just like the hamster in this video.
This is less likely unless you have a friendly duo.
But just to make sure, if your female is the one who seems overweight, and you know you’re doing everything else correctly, then let a vet take a look. Maybe you have tiny hamsters coming your way.
Unfortunately, certain types of tumors can cause a hamster to appear fat. Luckily, this is not a common problem, so you don’t have to start worrying just yet.
First, make sure that everything else is covered before considering this unfortunate reason.
How to get your hamster back into shape?
If, after following the guidelines above, you think you could have a roly poly on your hands, it’s going to be super important that you adjust their diet and encourage exercise to get them back to a healthy weight.
The number one priority should be reducing the number of fatty nuts and seeds you’re giving your hamster. Choose treats that provide additional nutrition to their high-quality regular food. Try some dried fruit: papaya chunks, banana chips and strawberries are all great options. If you have an apple lover on your hands, these mini-snackers are also a great substitute for fatty treats.
Make sure you’re providing your hamster with an exercise wheel or an exercise ball. This is so important for them to be able to release that pent up energy. In the wild, hamsters can run for miles every night looking for food or for a mate. An exercise wheel or ball will allow your hamster to replicate this same activity in a domestic setting, which is vital for their health.
Lots of cages actually have exercise equipment come with them, so this could be a really great option if you don’t have or are looking for a new habitat. Haven’t adopted a hamster yet and are kinda clueless on what they need? No worries. This starter pack has your name written on it.
I’d also recommend forcing that hefty hamster to work for their food. Rather than placing food in the same dish in the same place every day, hide a small amount around the cage. Your hamster is finding their nutrition while getting exercise. You gotta find it to eat it!
If you suspect that your hamster’s getting too heavy, nip the issue in the bud. Not only are you probably stressing, but they’re probably super uncomfortable. Hamster obesity, too, can lead to other hamster illnesses: diabetes, heart problems and overall shortened life expectancy.
So, keep that hamster right and tight! You’ll both benefit. Plus, they’ll probably start getting lots of compliments on that new, sexy bod. And everyone loves a compliment.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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