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Gerbils & Hamsters/Wanting new hamster


My 2 year old hamster, Ebony, passed away on Friday April 1.  Several weeks before she died, I noticed that she wasn't very active, even after dark.  She was only eating half as much.  I thought maybe it was a bit too cool in my living room so I moved her into my bedroom where it was warmer.  I kept her cage on its own table.  I then noticed she was drinking a lot more water, almost twice as much as she usually did.  The weekend before she died, I thought she was breathing rapidly.  I have some major surgery coming up later in the year so I don't think I'll get another hamster until after I'm healed, which might be next year.  Is there a safe way to disinfect her wire/plastic cage?  Or should I get a new one?

Hi Jinene

I was very sorry to hear that Ebony has passed away.  

Sadly a lot of hamsters develop tumors around this age and they are undetectable.  Tell tale signs are usually eating less, losing weight or sometimes their body goes more of a 'pear shape' and drinking lots of water.  It could well be that it was this or perhaps a kidney problem.  It doesn't sound as though she suffered at all which is a blessing.

With regard to her cage - as it sounds as though this was an age related illness and not something like wet tail (where the hamster has diarrhoea) it would be safe to re-use the cage at a later stage.  I tend to soak my hamster cages in the bath for a few days filled up with some pet cage disinfectant and water. Then I wash it out thoroughly with plenty of hot soapy water.  This should do the trick.  Also remember to wipe over any bars etc with a small pet disinfectant.  It is only when the hamster has died from a contagious disease such as wet tail that you need to dispose of the cage.

I do hope you get another hamster at some stage in the future.  Good luck with your surgery - I hope everything goes well for you.


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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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