Hamster question -- Teddy's not doing well

by cruzanheart 21 Replies latest jw friends

  • cruzanheart

    Teddy is Jennie's almost-2-year-old hamster, which I know is old for a hamster. Last week when we cleaned his cage I noticed quite an odor about him and the cage, so I gave him a quick bath using a drop of dog shampoo and holding him in my hand to minimize trauma. He seemed to take it well and fluffed up nicely, BUT I noticed while I was bathing him that his tummy was almost hairless and seemed a bit scabby.

    Last night he was walking around his cage kind of hunched over, like he's favoring his tummy. It doesn't look any worse, but I dabbed a little olive oil on it to see if that would moisturize the skin a bit. (He immediately started washing himself and darting dirty glances at me, but I figured a little olive oil wouldn't hurt him.) I saw online that tea tree oil could also be used, so I may try that tonight.

    He's just not himself -- he'll eat the carrots we put in but his food dish isn't getting emptied as fast as before. Seems to be drinking enough water.

    I think it's old age -- there's no indication of mites and no place he could pick up ringworm (the other two alternatives).

    Anybody have advice for me? We can't really afford to take him to the vet right now, and if it IS old age there's nothing to be done for him anyway.



  • the_classicist

    Almost impossible to tell for a hamster. Maybe it's a bladder infection or a cancer.

  • Billygoat

    Is he constipated? Sometimes I double over favoring my tummy when I just need to "go".

  • Double Edge
    Double Edge

    I had several hamsters as a kid... the oldest lived to be about 3. I think you should just let nature take it's course (unfortunately)... there's little to be done, unless you know specifically if he's eaten something out of the ordinary. Just make sure he has plenty of fresh water. (I'm sure you do).


  • Sara Annie
    Sara Annie

    Confession time: I have taken a hamster to the veterinarian.

    When our son's hamster (who was about a year and a half old at the time) began to make a raspy, wheezing sound, our then 8 year old boy was very upset and asked when we should take the hamster to see the vet--after all, we take the cats and dog annually and whenever there is a problem. Knowing that hamsters have a relatively short life span, I remember asking my husband that night what a trip to the vet for a $6 hamster would cost us. He thought for a moment and responded that the bigger question might be "What will it cost us if we don't?"

    So in the spirit of modeling responsible pet-ownership behavior to our kids, I got to be the "crazy redhead with the hamster cage in the waiting room". I felt a little silly for being there at all (and for not being able to help bursting into laughter when the vet carefully cradled 'Jinx' on her back while holding the stethoscope to her tiny little chest in an attempt to listen to her lungs...) and even sillier when, having paid the $96 vet bill and walking out with 6 days of hamster antibiotics, when I walked right by the display of healthy young hamsters for $6.99, but in the end our son learned a good lesson in taking your commitments seriously, and just as valuable a lesson when she died peacefully 7 months later.

    My brother called that night and when I told him I took the hamster to the vet, he paused before saying "Do you mean the 'big veterinarian in the sky'?"

    Do your own cost/benefit analysis, but it might be worth a quick call to the vet.

  • jgnat

    I'm voting for cancer, too, I am afraid. Just keep him comfortable. When I was nearly past rodent-raising age, I finally found the perfect bath. Chinchilla Dust!


    On the off chance this is just a skin condition, or if you just want him to feel more comfortable, offer your hamster a small bowl of chinchilla dust twice a week. His fur will fluff up nicely and he will be much more comfortable.

  • cruzanheart
    $96 vet bill

    Ack! That's what we're afraid of! We dropped $700 on Moose the basset hound earlier in the summer, thanks to the total negligence of another vet (we're hoping to get that money back without going to small claims court, but we're prepared for that). And $2600 on him the summer before (who knew he'd get bloat because of the anesthesia when we had him neutered???). Yes, there's a lot to be said for responsible pet ownership, but . . . well . . . I'm going to try a few things first.

    I talked to a very knowledgeable young woman at Petsmart today at lunch, and she said it sounds like old age to her, or possibly the beginnings of wet tail (a diarrhoea type infection in hamsters). I bought some vitamin drops and I'm going to try the tea tree oil tonight and see how he does.

    jgnat, thanks for the tip -- I might try the chinchilla dust.

    Andi, I don't think he's constipated, but it's hard to tell until I clean his cage this week. All that sort of mixes with the bedding.

    Thanks, y'all!


  • Mecurious?

    Teddy is Jennie's almost-2-year-old hamster

    How long do they normally live?


  • Elsewhere

    Just replace the hamster with a new $6.99 one. When the kids start asking why the hamster looks different, just look'em straight in the eye and say: What do you mean he looks different? He's always looked like that.

  • cruzanheart

    Mecurious: They usually live about 2 years, so the clock is ticking on our furry old guy.

    Elsewhere: That would be a tempting option except I'd really like to close the book on having a hamster around. Teddy's been a real sweet one but was the result of Child #1 wanting her own pet (I'll take care of it, Mommy, really!) and Mommy ending up with most of the cleaning responsibilities because the bedding makes her nose itch. This is summertime and the upstairs (where the hamster resides) gets a bit warm in the daytime, so his cage tends to be more aromatic by the end of the week than during the winter.

    It's just sad to keep an animal only for a couple of years. Teddy, we hardly knew ye.


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