Why Do Hamsters Die?

Have you ever thought about “why do hamsters die?” Your adorable little pet is a vulnerable creature. They are prone to illness and injury like all other living beings. 

So, you might be thinking that your little buddy is behaving indifferently and approaching its death. Of course, there can be various reasons behind the sickness. And there are some ways to keep your friend safe and healthy. However, you also need to keep an eye on specific behaviors of your little friend. 

In the following text, we will discuss all these aspects of hamsters and their death, so keep reading. 

Causes of Death

There can be various causes behind a dying hamster. For example, it might be some disease or illness like the wet tail disease. In addition, some hamsters end up dying due to other preventable errors like falling from a dangerous height. 

One thing you need to be cautious about is that their behavior can be pretty confusing sometimes. For example, sometimes they start burrowing for no reason. Maybe it’s just preparing to hibernate, or perhaps it’s sick, and you need to take it to the vet. 

Hamsters do have a pretty short lifespan if you compare them with other pets. But if you get them examined regularly, they can live a happy and healthy life. 

Like any other pet or a living creature, these little critters can die of some sickness too. The cause can be any viral, fungal, or bacterial infection. Unfortunately, if you leave these infections untreated, they can prove to be fatal. 

Prevent spreading infections

You need to make sure if there is any infection or disease, prevent it from spreading. Of course, this is applicable when you have more than one hamster. If one of the hamsters is sick, separate them immediately. 

Your hamster might have picked up a virus from one of the sick hamsters from their cages in the pet store. Or they might have developed a sickness after you have brought them home. In either case, you need to separate them. 

Here are some of the illnesses that you need to get treated by a vet before they get out of control and take the life of your little friend. 


We love to talk about the chubby scores of our little friends, but there are times when these puffy cheeks might be a sign of a problem. 

An abscess can be extremely painful for your pet and requires antibiotics and drainage. So, if you see a lump on the body of your hamster, take it to the vet right away. 

If you leave these bacteria untreated, they can enter our hamsters’ bloodstream and cause bacteremia. And as hamsters are pretty small, so bacteremia is not going anywhere once it sets in.

Colds and coughs 

If you didn’t know previously, here’s a fun fact: these hamsters can catch a cold just like humans. In addition, these hamsters can develop sniffles, coughs, and sneeze as well. 

If you have noticed that your hamster has a wet nose or might find it difficult to breathe or wheeze, your hamster is cold. 

Now cough might not be that big of an issue for us humans. But if a hamster catches it, you might pay a visit to your vet. 

So, if you see any of these signs, make sure you get your hamster examined as soon as possible before the little critter develops a fatal infection.

The wet tail

The wet tail disease is triggered by stress and bacteria, and it is very common among hamsters. Plus, the worst part is that it is quite contagious as well. And even if you catch it in its earliest stage, your hamster will die within the next 72 hours. 

Suppose you have noticed that your hammy has developed diarrhea and wetness around its tail for no reason, plus you are also noticing it to be low in energy and acting more aggressively. In that case, you need to get it examined right away. Your vet will guide you regarding the further steps you need to take and prescribe any antibiotics. 

How to Know if Your Hamster Is Dying

There are a few signs your hamster is dying because of old age. First, you will notice your hamster has dullness in its eyes, and its fur might become thinner. 

Apart from that, there will be a decreased appetite without any illness. There might be a behavior change, and they begin to urinate where they are nesting. 

These are some of the most prominent signs your hamster is dying, and it’s not going to live for more than a couple of weeks. A hamster has a lifespan of around a couple of years. They can suddenly die due to old age even when they are engaged in their routine activities. 

Your little friend might be enjoying its favorite activity or nibbling on its favorite snack, and all of a sudden, it stops breathing and curtains for your little friend. If you notice that your friend is too stiff to touch or is not motivated, it has passed away. You can consult your vet and confirm, after which you can proceed with the burial. 

Many people made this loss to every disturbing person as if some family member had passed away. You will feel grieved while you are honoring your pet. Your hamster might not be with you for your whole life, but you will always cherish your memories. 

Keep Your Hamster Healthy

Maybe your hamsters are just preparing themselves for hibernation. However, it is very common for your hamster to burrow and hide in them in their natural habitat. They love to hide, and therefore, they make those burrows and hide in them just like they do out there in the wild to keep them safe from predators. 

But if it is preparing itself for hibernation, it must have come from the wild because domestic hamsters don’t hibernate. They only hibernate if they are in an icy habitat. They then start to save food and water and start preparing their nests. If this is the case, there are a few tricks to get them out of this state. 

Provide them with a warm environment

The best thing you can do to a hamster is to provide it with a warm environment. These critters are nocturnal and live in deserts. So, cold is something that will make the hibernate to prevent any sickness or disease. 

Therefore, you have to make sure you provide them with a warm environment to make them more comfortable and prevent them from preparing for their hibernation. This will also make sure your hamsters don’t develop any infection or sickness. 

Provide them with food and water

You also need to make sure you provide them with enough food and water daily. Keep in mind that you should get rid of any food they haven’t consumed for more than 12 to 24 hours. 

This food needs to be removed because it might have developed bacteria, and it will become infectious for your little friend. So, keep that fresh food and water coming for you, little friend. 

Check the vital signs of your hamster

Well, don’t raise your eyebrow for this one because you won’t need that stethoscope. You will only have to look at the hamster closely, and if you see that it is taking very slow breaths, it is in hibernation. Maybe you find it difficult to see that your pet is breathing or not.  

You can remove your little friend from its cage, and don’t worry if you think it is cold because low body temperature can be triggered with hibernation. You can apply a slight pressure to check that heartbeat. 

If you are concerned that your pet is not hibernating and is ill or perhaps dying, you need to get it examined by a vet. If you feel anything slightly off, get the hamsters examined straight away before the situation worsens. Your vet will tell you about the further steps to take. 

Hamster Preventive Care

Here are some important tips that you need to follow to keep your little hamster safe and healthy: 

Give your little pal some space if you are feeling sick

This one is pretty obvious that if you are not feeling well for any reason, then it’s better to stay away from your hamster no matter what. Hamsters are pretty vulnerable, and they not only can catch a cold from humans but also spread the infection.

If anyone in your house has the flu or cough, it is better to keep them away from your little friend. Also, make sure you don’t cough directly on your little friend or into their cage. Finally, wash your hands before and after holding your hamster.  

Separate your hamsters from one another if one of them is sick

If you notice that one of your hamsters is not feeling well, you need to separate it immediately from the other hamster. These little critters can transmit infections pretty quickly, and you need to prevent that from happening. 

Some hamsters are more vulnerable than others in terms of their immune system. And as soon as you separate them, take the sick one to the vet and get it treated because things can get worse.

Don’t keep them in cold rooms

You have to ensure that you don’t keep your hamsters in a drafty room, have too much moisture, or your temperature is too low. Maybe the humidity is coming from the unfinished basement underneath it. 

Whatever the reason is, you need to make sure that these three things are not there in that room where you are keeping your hamsters. Hamsters don’t like too much cold and humidity. You also need to keep them away from any drafty windows. 

If you think that keeping the room warm is slightly difficult, then go for a heat lamp and palace it in that room. Keep in mind that a heat lamp is not artificial light. Too much light can also disrupt your hammy’s natural way of living. They are nocturnal, and for that reason, they prefer to live life in the dark. 

Be extra cautious when holding it

Hamsters don’t tend to spend much time on your hands if they don’t already have developed a trust relationship with you. So, in this scenario, it might allow you to touch and carry it, but it will not spend much time in your hands. 

Therefore, it might try to run off and jump and end up landing on the floor, which might prove to be fatal. Therefore, if you allow your hamster friend to explore the world outside of the cage, you need to be very careful and keep it safe. Even if it falls from the bed, you will have to take it to the vet to mail an injury that might prove to be fatal. 


But if it doesn’t, it might have passed away, and its body might release an unpleasant odor. This is one of the most common indicators that your hamster is dead. 

Final Word

Hamsters have a very short lifespan that ranges between 2 to 5 years, depending upon the breed. Your hamster might die of age out of nowhere without showing any signs of illness. On the other hand, it might be playing or eating food when all of a sudden it passes away. 

If there is a change in your hamster’s behavior, then it might be sick, and you need to get it examined by a vet. If you leave the sickness unaddressed, then it might prove to be fatal for the little critter. Just make sure that you don’t expose it to cold temperatures and provide fresh food and water. 

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