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Gerbils & Hamsters/My Hamster had a stroke


QUESTION: Hello, I adopted a beautiful Syrian hamster (age unknown but I suspect shes an older girl) about a couple months ago and unfortunately a couple days ago my hamster had a stroke. Initially, I thought she went into a sort of hibernation mode, which I am aware is not normal (it has gotten rather cold here fast) so I woke her up. She was extremely slow to wake and is very very wobbly. She has done the typical "circling" common in strokes. She is lethargic. She constantly sleeps and I have to feed her in order for her to get nutrition. From what I observe, she stays asleep in her hideaway den (not sure about her activity while I am asleep). I do not know how much water and food she should be eating while I hand feed her. I have bought baby food and a small pet syringe for feeding. I'd like to know how much she should be fed and also the odds of her becoming better enough to where she can at least function. I've had 6 hamster prior to her and have never faced this issue before so I am devastated...and so is my toddler who can't comprehend that the hamster cant play with her now. Any other info about strokes and hamsters is much appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Nikki

I'm really sorry to hear about your hamster.

I've never had any who have had a stroke so I can't answer from experience.

The main thing to consider is her quality of life. Baby food is fine as that will be easy for her to digest but you need to keep a close watch on her teeth as she really needs hard things to chew to keep them short. Is she going to the toilet normally?  It might be worth weighing her so you can see if she is losing weight at all. It is hard to say how much food to give - if you are feeding baby food that is wet she won't need much water - just a few drops at a time.

If you think she is suffering then euthanasia might be the kindest option but without seeing her I'm afraid I can't give you a definite answer.

Sorry I'm not much help but I hope you get on ok.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, my hamster ended up passing away. She seemed to be getting better from the stroke (more mobile- less falling over), but then she acquired wet tail. I suspect it was caused by all the stress. She didn't make it to the vet. She died overnight. I thought she would make it but once she got wet tail, she declined so rapidly.
   However, I do have an additional question regarding one of my new hamster I had adopted. I recently adopted 2 hamsters. Both of which came in a box FULL of hamsters (and from what the shelter staff have said, it was a massacre in that box, they were all fighting). They seem to be dwarfs- particularly Campbell and/or White Russian. One of them has had a seamless transition. A little shy but sociable enough to where she is bonding with my child and myself. I'm able to hold her. The other.....well....she is quite aggressive. I have tried giving her a treat and instead of taking the treat or being curious like a normal hamster, she goes for my fingers and tries to attack. I've already been bit by her prior to adopting, but these "broken" animals are kind of my specialty. I just want to fix these guys I guess you can say. So thats why I still adopted her.  However, as far as aggression goes, this hamster takes the cake. I have had a lot of hamsters but never witnessed such "hamster anger" before. The prior owner probably didn't give them much attention. Do you have suggestions as far as socializing a possibly "feral-type" hamster?

Hi Nikki

I'm really sorry that your hamster died although she did sound very ill.

Dwarf hamsters are tricky to tame especially Campbell's. Is the aggressive hamster ok with the other hamster? If she starts bullying her (one always wants to be in control) or attacks her then you'd need to separate them in which case you can't reintroduce them.

When I've had aggressive hamsters I leave them alone for a while and don't try handling them. Everyday I talk to them and give them treats so that they associate me with something nice,  after a while they usually start to respond to my voice and at that time I try handling. Hamsters get a bit freaked out with stepping on skin so I tend to handle them through clothing initially. It really is a case of persevering I'm afraid and Campbells are known to be the most challenging to tame.

If you want to email me your mailing address to I would be pleased to send you a free copy of a book I wrote on hamsters which gives a lot of general information.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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