If you are going to get a pet hamster, it is important to know all that you can about them. One of the things that many people don’t know much about is hamsters and hibernation.
Hibernation is something that many animals, including turtles, do to help themselves survive. It will keep an animal alive in cold weather and help them to stay safe when resources are scarce. During hibernation, the animal is not active which helps them to save energy. Their heart rate and temperature both drop-down and they have slower breathing, as well.
There are two different kinds of hibernation. Obligatory hibernation is when an animal gets fat in the summer months and then find a safe place to hibernate during the winter months. Squirrels and bears do this kind of hibernation.
Hamsters, however, do a different kind of hibernation known as permissive hibernation. This is when an animal can hibernate any time of the year - during the summer or winter. Basically, when an environment requires the animal to need energy conservation, they will go into this kind of hibernation. They will be in a torpor state. This means they are in a deep sleep, not real hibernation. It doesn’t last as long as obligatory hibernation. They may stay in the torpor state until the environment gets better. Usually, this is anywhere from a couple of hours until 5 days. If the environment stays the way it is for too much time, this could cause your hamster to die from dehydration or hypothermia.
It is important to know that the environment you have your pet hamster in should never force them to have to hibernate.
When do hamsters go into hibernation?
The main cause for hamsters to go into hibernation is when they get too cold. The environment that you have your pet hamster in should be between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If your hamster is too cold for 24 hours, they might hibernate. However, many hamsters won’t hibernate unless they have been in too cold of temperatures for 1 to 2 months. If your hamster is in the dark for the majority of every day, they will be more likely to hibernate. Additionally, if they don’t have enough water and food, they might hibernate to preserve energy.
It is important to know that hamsters should not be hibernating. It isn’t good for them. The longer they hibernate, the more weight they will lose.
Signs of Hamster Hibernation
Hopefully, you won’t need to see your hamster and wonder whether they are dead. Hibernation in hamsters looks a lot like they are dead. However, it is important to know how to recognize the hamster hibernation signs. Some of the signs of hamster hibernation include the following:
- Can’t feel a heartbeat
- Looks like they are in a coma
- They might be stiff or limp when picked up
- Sporadic or no respirations
- Food and water levels are at the same as when you last checked them
- It may look as if they are dead
These are some of the most common hamster hibernation signs that you should look out for.
Caring for a Hibernating Hamster
If your hamster is sleeping, then you should let them be. They do need their rest. However, if they are hibernating, they require a completely different level of care.
The first thing you need to know to determine what kind of care your pet hamster needs right now is the length of time they have been in the torpor state. If they have been in that state for 24 hours or less, they may just need to be warmed back up immediately to come out of that state. You should warm up their cage and put light around it for a minimum of 12 hours. You should also be sure your hamster has enough water and food for when they come out of the torpor state.
If you can’t get the cage warm enough, you can hold your hamster in a warm blanket or cloth and rub them lightly, holding them to your body. Massaging them lightly can get their blood flowing properly again. If your hamster doesn’t come out of hibernation in a few hours after trying to warm them, you may want to call a veterinarian. It is important not to raise their temperature too quickly. That can be dangerous for them.
Now that you know more about hamster winter and summer hibernation, you can do your best to keep your hamster safe and healthy. Remember, if your pet hamster seems to be hibernating, you should find out the cause and help them immediately. Being in hibernation for too long can be fatal for a hamster.