What Are the Signs of Hamster Dying? How to Tell If Your Hamster Is Sick or Dying?

What Are the Signs of Hamster Dying

Compared to other pets, hamsters often have a shorter lifespan, so their owners must eventually say goodbye. Knowing that a hamster only lives for two to three years can help you decide whether or not to convince your parents to get a hamster

These little rodents are not only very susceptible to sickness but also to sudden changes in their surrounding environment. 

The least you can do for your dying hamster is to give it the love and attention it deserves up to the end.

This article will explain how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a dying hamster so that you know your hamster is ready for hamster ground and can spend the final time with it. 

What to Look For? How Do Hamsters Die? 

Many common hamster ailments may be fatal if not addressed in time. A rodent’s immune system may be compromised by poor nutrition, leaving it vulnerable to various diseases. 

Hamsters may develop depression and other mood disorders if they don’t get enough activity. It’s not hard for hamsters to die of cold or overheat if they’re not properly cared for.

The signs of a dying hamster include: 

1. Blood Discharge

Bleeding from a hamster’s organs such as the ear, nose, eye, or anus might indicate a serious illness, and you need to check it out immediately. 

Blood discharges in the feces or urine of hamsters are very abnormal and can indicate something is wrong with the animal and is one of the signs of a dying hamster. 

2. Reduction in Appetite and Weight Loss

Watch to see if your pet hamster is eating less than usual. Extreme instances of hamster death might be the result when the animals are no longer eating. 

Like people, hamsters may experience a loss of appetite when they are ill. Too-thin hamsters have compromised immune systems and are more prone to illness.

3. Apathy and Lethargic Behavior 

Pain is a common symptom of illness in hamsters, as may be shown in behaviors like heightened sensitivity and resistance to being handled, picked up, or touched. 

Your hamster may be in pain if it acts uncomfortable and resists being petted or runs when you try to console it. Because they are in so much pain and are under so much stress, hamsters’ behavior before death turns hostile toward other animals. 

Others could demonstrate extreme anxiety and a heightened awareness of their environment.

4. Breathing Issues

When your hamster starts coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, it might signify respiratory distress or illness. Signs include a stuffy nose, watery eyes, and a thick mucus discharge. 

A heavily breathing hamster is never a good sign; it is one of the hamster’s symptoms of dying. 

Symptoms include:

  • Rapid, irregular breathing.
  • A slower-than-usual heart rate.
  • Even cooling the body.

You will eventually hear the hamster’s dying noises. 

5. Skin Disease or Discoloration

If your hamster is scratching at its skin often, it may indicate something more is wrong. If you check the hamster carefully, you might see some spots, redness, or dry skin. Shiny fur is a good sign of good health and wellness for animals. 

Sick hamsters are more prone to skin disorders because of their dwindling immune systems.

6. Irregular Bowel Movement

“Wet tail” is slang for the drenched tail of a hamster with diarrheal conditions. Dehydration, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are all symptoms of this condition. 

Stress is considered a significant factor in the development of wet tails. Even hamsters on the verge of death may experience anxiety. 

7. Looking Different

As their strength and immunity dwindle, dying hamsters are more vulnerable to skin disorders. As their skin changes, they start to look different. Changes in your hamster’s hair, like those in its skin, may indicate illness. 

These are more severe causes of skin swelling and redness in hamsters. When the mouth begins to swell and develop infections, it might be a sign of more severe health problems.

8. Cardiac Problems

Atrial thrombosis is by far the most common and deadly condition in hamsters. Clot forms in one of the heart’s chambers and prevents blood from flowing normally. If this occurs, the hamster may die of a heart attack or cardiac arrest. 

There is no cure for this illness, and the most your vet can do for your hamster is suggest a supplement and diet plan.

9. Symptoms of Unknown Diseases

Unfortunately, it is common practice for animals raised in pet stores to be confined in deplorable, overcrowded circumstances and subjected to mistreatment. Hamsters under such stress are more likely to get contagious illnesses like wet tail and pneumonia. 

If you just want one hamster, you should examine the hamster you’re considering purchasing and the other hamsters in its cage.

Seek immediate veterinary attention if you see any of the signs mentioned earlier of a dying hamster. Make sure your hamster is pain-free, warm, and at ease with your company. Sometimes all it takes is a dose of medication or a new setting to fix the problem.

What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like?

A dying hamster’s breathing will become irregular and choppy, and its heart rate will gradually decrease until it stops.

Signs of a deceased hamster include:

  • It looks like it is in a fetal position and not moving.
  • If you try to pet them or interact with them, you will sense a stiffness in their bodies.
  • Their body as a whole, not just their muscles, will feel more rigid and tense than usual. As a result, rigor mortis has set in.
  • They won’t even be able to move their bodies to breathe.
  • The lack of a heartbeat.
  • 0% capillary refilling time. 

Your dead hamster might look like one of those mentioned above. That way, no one will be in the dark about your hamster’s untimely demise.

hamster sitting at the corner of the bed
Image credit: TETU222, Shutterstock

Do Hamsters Hibernate?

In the hamster world, hibernation is a regular occurrence. An animal’s metabolic rate often drops during this time. It’s also common in the winter when animals try to keep warm by conserving energy. 

Because of the reduction in heart rate and body temperature, an animal in this state may be mistaken for one that is dead. 

Is Your Hamster Hibernating or Dead for a Period? 

Hibernation is normal behavior for hamsters throughout the colder months. Due to the slowing of your pet’s metabolic rate during hibernation, it may be difficult to tell if it has just gone into a deep sleep, has grown unwell, or is dead.

You should check here to ensure whether your hamster is dead or hibernating. 

1. Body Temperature

  • Your hamster may enter hibernation if the cage is around a window or in a comparatively cold part of the room.
  • Hamsters enter hibernation when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius.

2. Heartbeat

  • If the hamster doesn’t have a heartbeat, it’s already dead. Without any, it can’t live. If you are unable to feel any, seek it out.
  • Over its elbows is the best spot to listen for the hamster’s heartbeat. Hold your hamster’s chest between your forefinger and thumb for a few minutes while you quietly hear the telltale thud of a heartbeat. If you feel a slow rate, it is hibernating. 

3. Breathing

In hibernation, the breathing pace might be reduced to once every two minutes. 

  • If you can’t locate any, your hamster is likely dead. 
  • The breathing pace can be reduced to as little as once every two minutes, so keep a close eye on them. 


In case you are wondering, “Should I let my hamster die naturally?” The answer is yes, you should. A hamster’s lifespan is relatively brief, so if you’re sentimental, you might want to look elsewhere for a pet. 

There are telltale symptoms, but once they appear, death comes rapidly. If he is to the point where he can enter the happy hamster grounds, you should concentrate on ensuring that he is pain-free, warm, and at ease.

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