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5 signs of old age in hamsters

signs of old age in hamsters

Like any living thing, hamsters age. And it’s important for a caring hamster owner to notice the signs of hir furry little friend getting old.

So for you to be prepared, we’ve made a list of main signs of an old hamster and covered a couple of other questions that you might have.

When is a hamster considered old?

Hamsters are considered old as they reach the age of 2 years. And it comes as no surprise, as it equals 70 in human years.

Hamsters don’t live a long life, only 2-3 years in most cases. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the breed and care.

This doesn’t mean that after turning 2 years old your hammy will have little time left. Nevertheless, it’s an important milestone and you might notice the signs of your hamster getting old even a few months before this time.

What are the signs of old age in hamsters?

You might be wondering how to know if your hamster is getting old. And the signs are easy to notice if you pay enough attention to your pet. Changes in behavior and even looks might give you a hint that your hamster might soon need more care, attention, and special treatment.

Decreased activity

Being less active is one of the first and most common signs of a hamster getting old. Your furry friend doesn’t spend as much time running in his wheel or happily exploring the surroundings as before. And you might notice him sleeping more than usual. 

Fur loss and dry skin

Losing hair and having dryer skin are normal signs of an aging hamster. Age-related fur loss is generally first noticed around the tummy area, hind legs, and hips. To some degree, this can be helped with adjustments in diet and proper vitamin supplements.

Appetite and weight loss

Older hamsters are also less interested in food. Most likely they will make fewer “food trips” and put less provision in the cheek pouches. Eating less is the main reason for old hamsters to lose weight.

But pay close attention - if your old hamster doesn’t eat and/or drink at all for a day or even longer, the reason might be even more serious than just old age. In this case, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Eye problems

Another common issue for old hamsters is the development of a sticky eye. This happens when eye secret fluid dries around the eyelid and the hamster can’t open his eyes. If no other reason like bad ventilation or eye irritation could be the cause - then it’s purely age-related.

Drinking more water

Old hamsters starting to drink more water is another common sign you might notice. If no other issues, this might be related to kidney functioning or diabetes. In this case, a visit to a vet should help in determining the real cause and possible treatment.

Difficulties with walking

Some hamster owners notice their old hamsters struggle to walk, drag their back legs, fall over, or can’t walk at all. This is a very serious condition and one of the possible reasons is arthritis. We advise you to take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible.

Behavior and health issues not always related to a hamster's old age

There might be other things you might notice as your hamster reaches his “old age”, but they might not be signs of an elderly hamster, but rather an indication of a health problem. Let’s cover some of them:

  • Old hamster squeaking

There are several reasons hamsters make squeaking noises including the need for attention, feeling distressed, or being scared. It’s also possible that the hamster is in pain, and in that case, it's necessary to take him to the vet.

  • Old hamster shaking

Hamster shaking is also a sign that your pet is feeling stressed or scared. But with an old hamster, if shaking is combined with lethargy, it’s a very sad sign that his life is coming to an end.

  • Old hamster breathing fast or heavy

For hamsters, fast breathing can be normal. But if you notice that the breathing pace has changed, and your old hamster seems to suffer - it’s possible that he has a respiratory disease. 

  • Old hamster’s ears are down

Flat hamster’s ears can be a sign of stress or infection. If your hamster’s ears are down for a long time - it’s better to check with a vet.

  • Old hamster getting a wet tail

Yes, old hamsters can get wet tail. This condition is not age-related in most cases.