It is a sad but inevitable fact that everyone will become old, including our hamsters. Just like human beings, hamsters will change a lot both physically and psychologically. Thus, it will be necessary for us pet owners to prepare for the last period of their life. Below is all you need to know.
How can I know my fluffy is an old man?
Firstly, without a doubt, the age of your fluffy is the most realistic criterion. Since a hamster normally lives for 2-3 years, you should be very careful once he is 15 months old, which is often the start of his elderly life.
But the truth is that many people do not know the exact birthdate of their hamsters because the pet store failed to tell them. Therefore, as a responsible owner, we should know the representative sign of aging for our hamsters. Below are the most obvious ones.
- Less eating
This is the sign of aging easiest to be observed. For daily feeding, I strongly recommend that changing his food bowl at a certain frequency so that you will be able to know his eating habit and preference. When you find that the food consumption gradually slows down, and your fluffy does not show any signs of disease like stomatitis, the chances are that he is aging.
Like human beings, an old hamster will gradually lose his appetite. Another factor contributing to less eating is loose teeth, which make they’re eating much more difficult. Thus, hamsters would choose to eat less or eat only the soft part of the food.
- Thinner body
Usually, our lovely fluffy is very chubby, like a pompon. But when he is getting old, subcutaneous fat starts to lose because he eats less food. Correspondingly with less weight, because of less nutrition, his fur will look less shiny.
There is another reason he looks thinner is that his back spine is bending when aging. Since he is losing muscles and the fur is no longer tight, the spine will tend to bend in a larger angle, making the fluffy look slimmer.
- More sleep
For an old hamster, he would prefer to sleep way much better than running wheels or climbing the post. This is because as he is getting old, the metabolism also gradually slows down. He is producing less hormone that makes him active. What’s worse, he is taking in less nutrition, so that he would naturally refuse the activities that may consume a lot of energy.
Therefore, if your hamster loses all his interest in his favorite toy and starts to sleep in the corner all day, he is definitely an old man.
What should I do to care for an old hamster?
Since we have known the major physical changes on older hamsters, there are several things we can do to make them more comfortable in the last period of their life.
- Softer food
Old hamsters do not have strong teeth like those of younger ones, so we should change their menu. Normal commercial hamster food may not be a good choice for them at this time, so we must purchase hamster food specially designed for old hamsters, which is also nutritious but easier to eat. Suppose you do not have access to this special kind of hamster food.
In that case, you can pour some boiled water, honey, or glucose solution in the normal food to make it soft and sweet, which will be really attractive to your fluffy.
I also have to the point that though old hamsters need soft food, their food should not be ALL soft. Always remember that in spite of the fact that he is getting old, he is still a typical rodent, which means his teeth will always keep growing, so some hard food to bite and molar is always necessary. A small apple slice is a good choice for old hamsters, which is easy to prepare and not that stiff.
You may also come up with the idea that since the hamster eats much less than before, you may be able to reduce the frequency of refilling and changing his food. I must warn you that this is extremely wrong. Old hamsters need fresh food because their digestive system is really sensitive and fragile at this time.
Any bad food may cause serious disease like enteritis, which leads to death or loss in life span. Therefore, offering fresh food is very important.
- Simpler cage
When the hamster is young, his cage is the larger, the better, because a complicated cage can effectively motivate the hamster to move around, in case he suffers from complications of obesity. But when he is getting old, moving and climbing are becoming harder and harder for him because of osteoporosis, bending spine, and loss of strength.
Therefore, if your fluffy lives in a cage with more than one floor, you should consider replace it with a spacious but plain new cage. And the change should be accomplished as soon as possible, in order to lower down the stress of changing a new environment for susceptible old hamsters.
- Keep him clean
When hamsters are aging, they will lose the energy or the interest to clean their fur or their own shelter. Since a dirty environment would be a hotbed for all kinds of viruses and germs, and the immunity of old hamsters is rather limited, it is often important to clean his cage.
In concerns of the stress brought by frequent cleaning, we should clean the cage at a lower but regular frequency, and clean thoroughly every time.
What should I do if my hamster dies?
Check for your local laws and regulations on the process of dealing with pet bodies. Normally you can bury him in your own garden and plant some daisies beside him. Nowadays, many companies offer pet funeral services, so you may check for related information online if you are interested.
Despite the business above, mind recovery is also very important. Death is an indispensable part of keeping a pet, along with feed, care, and accompany. Since the life span is rather limited, almost every hamster has or will have to experience this process.
While keeping the fluffy, we learn to have, learn to give, and learn to lose. Though the fluffy has gone, the profound understanding of life is the most precious treasure he left you. Cherish it.
Above are the tips for all hamster owners to care for an old hamster. Though death is inevitable, we can still try our best to make our fluffy live as comfortable as possible until the last moment.