How Can I Tell If My Hamster Is Dying?

Hamsters are the best low-maintenance pets for a variety of reasons. They are very pleasant and intelligent creatures but unfortunately only have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years. If you have had a pet hamster for a few years and start noticing unusual behavior, it might be a sign that your hamster is dying. It is natural to feel paranoid when your hamster reaches 2 years of age, so you should be aware of the exact signs to look out for.

Spotting a problem can be pretty challenging for any average person. Here are a couple of tricky things to consider before making a call,

  • Whether your hamster is wild or domesticated
  • The temperature of its environment

Wild animals have plenty of resources to work with and face certain conditions your average pet hamster wouldn’t survive. Your pet needs a clean, stress-free environment to ensure they live a long, happy life.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of tell-tale signs that can help you deduce whether your hamster is dying or not.

A Sudden Consistent Lack of Energy

Most hamsters are very energetic animals and are always very active. These tiny creatures spend most of their days playing around and exercising their muscles. If your hamster looks lazy or is suffering from fatigue, it needs your attention. 

There are chances he is too old to keep engaging in strenuous activities if your hamster just celebrated his second birthday. Elevated stress only makes the situation worse, so pay special attention to your hamster’s needs.

You should also ensure that your hamster is not lazy because it is hibernating. Domesticated hamsters can’t hibernate because they don’t consume the number of calories required for the process. A neglected hamster’s environment can induce hibernation, especially if the temperature is not maintained. Ensure the temperature in the enclosure does not fall below 22°C to prevent hibernation. A chilly environment can induce hibernation, a process that a domesticated hamster’s body cannot withstand.

Some people confuse a state of hibernation as their hamster dying. If your hamster wakes up when moved to a warmer environment, there is nothing to worry about.

Loss of Appetite & Thirst

It can be hard to keep track of how much your hamster eats but pay close attention to it as soon as you notice your pet’s behavior being a bit off. It might not respond as well to its favorite treats or leave scraps behind that it wouldn’t before. Hamsters tend to eat less when they are about to pass away.

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An aversion to food could also mean something else. There are other medical factors like bloating, aging, or stress, so rule out any other reasons before making any big decisions. Loss of appetite is usually one of the earliest indications of a health problem, so visit your veterinarian if it is the only sign you observe.

Lack of Recovery

Young hamsters usually bounce back from any illnesses easily. However, their ability to recover gets compromised as they age. There are also concerns regarding whether they are in a stress-inducing environment. 

Stress can cause several medical issues to occur, which puts your hamster’s overall well-being at risk. Your pet needs care and attention when it is sick and depending on the severity of its condition, it might even need professional care.

Antisocial Behavior

If you’re beginning to notice your pet hiding away within its enclosure all the time, it can be a cause for concern. Hamsters are active at night, so being out of sight all day is ordinary behavior. However, if they aren’t hanging outside as they used to at night, it could be acute stress. A dying hamster is also in pain and may act aggressively when you try to play with/pick it up.

Stomach & Skin Concerns

A hamster nearing its demise will show various signs such as a troubled stomach and changes in appearance. It might also lose some weight due to digestion issues and the lack of appetite. Since their immunity is compromised, many different problems can occur more frequently such as allergies, infections, and skin diseases. If your hamster’s coat looks unhealthy and it has lost a significant amount of weight, it could be a sign that it is time to go.

Difficulty Breathing

A dying hamster’s vital signs will also differ from the usual. The pain can stress them out and increase their heart-rate and affect their breathing. A hamster that is in pain can show labored or rapid breathing with an elevated heart-rate. 

How To Care For A Dying Hamster

If most of these symptoms apply, then it might be time to make your pet’s last moments more enjoyable. Here are some ways you can do that:

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Provide A Calm Environment

Small animals get scared easily, so being able to mitigate that stress is a good start. Make sure your pet is in a calm and serene environment without any loud noises. Stay close to your hamster and help it feel loved and safe.

Medicate If Needed 

Your vet can prescribe medication which can ease your pet’s suffering. A dying hamster will be in pain because its organs are slowly shutting down. Easing the pain with medication can help your hamster in some of its last moments.

Spend Time With Your Pet

Your presence can have a calming effect on your pets. One of the best ways to ease your hamster’s suffering is to relieve some of its stress. Your companionship can help your pet with that. 

Provide Them A Separate Cage

Provide a separate cage with multiple hideouts to your dying hamster. Being surrounded by other hamsters can also be stressful. The constant movement and activity can disrupt the rest of the sick or dying hamster. Make sure your hamster is in a calm environment away from its mates. Watching one of their friends die can also affect the other hamsters in the cage.

Good Hygiene Is Important

Keep your hamster and its surroundings clean. They are clean animals and prefer their environment to be the same. They are at risk of developing life-threatening diseases otherwise. Remember to clean their enclosures diligently and not leave anything harmful to your pet. 

Get rid of any food or fecal particles, wash the cage, and then leave it to dry. Do this often to keep up good hygiene. Avoid using cleaning chemicals that can potentially harm your hamster. 


Hamsters are intelligent creatures and make great pets but unfortunately, they don’t live very long. Pay attention to any signs that are out of the ordinary, so you can ensure your pet receives help in time. A dying hamster needs special care and support to ensure it lives out its remaining time peacefully.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!