A very common question among many hamster owners is: Do Hamsters Hibernate? Many hamster owners find their pets in a dormant state, and believe their hamsters to be either hibernating or dead. However, the truth is, hamsters do not technically hibernate. Instead, they may enter a “torpid” state, in which their bodily functions become temporarily slowed down.
Type of Hamster
Depending on which type of hamster you have, you will need to approach a hibernating hamster’s situation differently. For example, if you own a dwarf hamster, this type of hamster is typically not known to hibernate. By contrast, if you have a Syrian hamster, you need to rouse them out of hibernation immediately, since they may eventually die if left in this state. If you own a golden hamster, your hamster will become torpid at a temperature around 10 degrees Celsius.
Causes for Hibernation
There are many things that may cause a hamster to enter a state of seeming “hibernation”. The most common cause is an extreme change in temperature, either to hot or cold. To cope with this change, a hamster may enter a torpid state. However, some hamsters may go into hibernation due to lack of water, stress or an existing health condition.
Is my Hamster alive or dead?
When a hamster is hibernating, it may be difficult to discern if they are still alive. Even if you pick up a hibernating hamster, they will usually not respond to your touch. However, a hibernating hamster will still need to breathe. To check if your hamster is still alive, hold them in the palm of your hand, and watch their whiskers for several seconds. In a hibernating hamster, the whiskers will twitch slightly.
Rousing a Hamster from Hibernation
Though sometimes you may allow your hamster to come out of hibernation or a torpid state on their own, you may have to give them a bit of help. In order to help your hamster to come out of hibernation, be sure that they are in a warm interior room with no drafty windows or doors. If necessary, partially cover your hamster in order to preserve body heat. Place your hamster’s cage in an area that is warmer than the rest of the house. In addition to this, you may use a small medicine dropper filled with water or a sweet electrolyte solution to attempt to get your hibernating hamster to drink.
Even a few hours of cool weather combined with a lack of food or water are enough to send your hamster into hibernation. Before he goes into hibernation, you may notice that him burrowing deeply into his nest or building a very large, very deep nest. He may be less active than he normally is and reluctant to play. In some instances he may shake or shiver.
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