Have your hamster gained weight recently? Worrying about its health? There are several steps that you can take to bring his weight back to normal. Firstly, you should start by decreasing the quantity of food you provide. Secondly, you should provide toys and space to your hamster for physical exercise. Lastly, consider changing the diet of hamsters to dry grains or commercial hamster pellets.
The environment we provide to our pet hamsters is entirely different from their natural habitat.
Hamsters’ bodies are not used to the luxury of having food in front of them all the time effortlessly. This is why they can become fat and lazy quite easily.
Naturally, hamsters roam in deserts in the search of food. When luck is not on their side, they even travel up to 5 miles in one night just to get food. Considering their size, it’s a lot. The same happens when they are looking for another hamster to mate.
Understanding why hamsters get fat is as important as learning how to bring back their weight to normal.
Why Do Hamsters Get Fat?
There could be multiple factors that can contribute to increasing the weight of your hamster. Almost all of these factors are related to the new hamster owner’s habit of spoiling their hamsters.
The following are the main reasons for increased weight in the hamsters:
Overfeeding And Overeating
Giving your hamster more than it needs is one of the biggest reasons why they get fat. New hamster owners are usually unaware of their hamster’s instincts. They fill the bowl of their hamsters with food, and when they check, after some time, it’s all gone.
New hamster owners usually prepare more food for their hamsters, assuming that they have eaten all the food and are hungry. However, the reality is far from their assumption.
In deserts or jungles, ancestors of our pet hamsters used to gather food to overcome food shortage challenges. Although hamsters in our homes get plenty of food, the instinct of storing food is still there. Hamsters carry the food in the bowl using their cheek pouches and store it in their bedding.
Hamsters consider bedding as a safe haven and stash their food under it for satisfaction.
Some new hamster owners who buy a hamster without any homework consider that hamster has eaten all the food. They fill the bowl of their hamsters once again.
The next part depends upon the personality of the hamster solely. Some hamsters do not overeat and take small proportions of food according to their need. Other hamsters will simply try to consume as much as they can. If this happens regularly, the hamster will gain a lot of weight in no time. and can even eat themselves to death
Lack Of Activity
As mentioned earlier, the natural habitat of a hamster is way different than the one we provide to them. Hamsters’ bodies are not designed to stay in a cage and eat all the time. Instead, the bodies of hamsters are developed to go out in the wild to look for food every night.
When we confine them in a small cage without much space or any accessory for physical exercise, they gain weight. Just like us, if all a hamster has to do all day is eat, fat will start accumulating instantly.
Hamsters have survived for many centuries because they really push their limits to get food in the wild. The same amount of physical activity or slightly less than that is necessary for the hamsters to keep them healthy.
After bringing a hamster to your home, the first thing you should do is read hamster feeding guidelines. The food you give to your hamster from the beginning will determine their health and life expectancy.
Just like humans, hamsters are also tempted to the things that are usually unhealthy for them.
For instance, if you mix some seeds for them, they will only eat those which they consider tasty. The rest of the seeds will remain there until they are very hungry and have nothing else to eat.
Some provide them with nuts that contain high fat and sugar levels. Even if you are not overfeeding them, such a diet can make fat in real-time.
How To Check If Your Hamster Is Fat Or Not?
There is a lot of fur on hamsters’ bodies which makes them so adorable. However, sometimes these furs trick us into thinking that our hamster has become fat. But, in reality, it is just the posture of our pet and the fur most of the time.
So, how to know if your hamster is fat or not?
Down below, we have discussed the two most popular types of hamsters to help you determine whether your hamster is fat or is it just fur:
Checking Obesity In Syrian Hamsters:
Most hamsters owners are aware of the fact that Syrian hamsters are one of the largest breeds of hamsters. These golden hamsters are also one of the cutest and most easy to manage.
However, feeding these furballs could be tricky for first-time hamster owners, especially.
Syrian or golden hamsters are fully grown by the time they are 3 months old. The ideal weight suggested for a fully grown Syrian hamster is 150 to 200 grams or 5 to 7 ounces. If your golden hamster weighs more than 200 grams, it is certainly fat. One to two grams above 200 grams means he is on the verge of becoming fat.
Method To Check Obesity In Syrian Hamsters:
Follow the simple steps mentioned below to find if your hamster is really fat or not:
- Take a kitchen weighing machine.
- Reset the counter of the machine.
- Place a cup on the machine.
- Reset the units on the weighing machine once again.
- Gently pick up your hamster from its cage.
- Check if the cheeks of your hamster are empty.
- Place the hamster in the cup.
- Note the reading.
Cup is just a safety precaution. Hamsters are very quick and can get aggressive without any warnings. If you place the hamster directly on the weighing machine, it will definitely jump off it. Therefore, it is recommended to place a cup to keep your hamster in place and avoid any injuries.
Checking Obesity In Dwarf Hamsters:
Some people love dwarf hamsters like Djungarian or Campbell’s hamsters because of their incredibly small size and matchless cuteness. Although the small size of these hamsters is unarguably cute, it makes handling them pretty difficult.
This is why many dwarf hamster owners are afraid to bring their hamsters out of the cage. Are you also a part of this group? Don’t worry because we have come up with an exclusive method for dwarf hamster owners.
You will be amazed to know that the ideal weight of a fully grown dwarf hamster is only ¾ to 1 ¾ ounces. These will be around 25 to 50 grams if you convert them into grams. If your dwarf hamster weighs more than 50 grams, he can be considered fat.
Method To Check Obesity In Dwarf Hamsters:
By following the method mentioned below step by step, you can check the signs of obesity in your dwarf hamster:
- Check if the cheeks of your hamster are empty or not.
- If the cheeks are not empty, wait for your hamster to empty them.
- Grab a hard chew toy.
- Lower the chew toy in your hamster’s cage while holding it firmly.
- Let the hamster stand on it two feet to bite the chew toy.
- Wait for some seconds.
- Gently lift the chew toy along with your hamster 1 inch above the ground.
- See if the belly area of your hamster still feels round or not.
The procedure involving a weighing machine can be a little tricky in the case of dwarf hamsters. They are very active and escape from your hand swiftly. This could result in injuries. Therefore this chew toy method is recommended for dwarf hamsters.
This method is totally safe and quite accurate to access obesity in dwarf hamsters. Don’t worry. Lifting the hamster won’t hurt him.
Medical Conditions Associated With Obesity In Hamsters
The amount of fat accumulated in the body of your hamster is directly related to the time it will live. Healthy hamsters, without any obesity, live significantly longer as compared to fat hamsters.
There are a lot of medical issues found in hamsters that are directly related to obesity. If a hamster is fat, it can suffer from the following health conditions:
- Shortened Life Expectancy
- Heart Problems
Hence, if not taken seriously, obesity can be fatal for your little furry friend.
How To Deal With Fat And Obesity In Hamsters:
Studies show that obesity and fat developed in hamsters are easily reversible. You simply have to do the opposite of what you have been doing till now.
Following are the things you can do to bring your hamster’s weight back to normal:
Reduce The Amount Of Food
The thing that you should start with is reducing the amount of food you give to your hamster. The best rule of thumb is to provide food to your hamster once a day. The ideal food to give is 2 teaspoons of a perfectly balanced feed in the case of Syrian hamsters.
If you talk about dwarf hamsters, 1 teaspoon of balanced feed is enough for your little critter.
On top of that, you should check the cage of your hamster for any food stashes before filling the bowl. As mentioned earlier, hamsters are natural hoarders and they will store food in different corners of their cage.
If you find any food, check how old it is. If the food is older than two days, remove it from there.
If the food is only a day older and is not contaminated by the hamster, let him finish that first.
Increase The Space And Number Of Accessories
Have you ever wondered if the cage you have bought for your hamster is fulfilling his physical needs? Your hamster is gaining weight probably because he doesn’t have enough space to burn the extra energy.
Maybe it’s the right time to buy a new cage for your hamster. Try going for a bigger cage with some tubes so that your hamster can burn some calories racing in them. Also, add some toys and other accessories in the cage to keep your hamster busy.
Never ever underestimate the importance of the hamster wheel in the life of your pet. Hamster wheels not only keep your hamster happy and calm, but they also keep them in shape. While buying a hamster wheel, make sure that its size is appropriate for your hamster.
Small-sized hamster wheels can result in serious injuries and health complications for your hamster.
Shift To Balanced Diet
Are you feeding treats to your hamster all the time? If yes then sorry to break the bubble for you but you are responsible for his obesity. Hamsters love to enjoy foods with high-fat levels like nuts but it’s dangerous to give it to your hamster daily.
The same is the case with fruits. They contain high amounts of sugar which is not healthy for your hamster at all. Greenstuff on the other hand can cause diarrhea in the hamsters if given above a certain amount.
The best bet you are left with is commercial hamster pellets. Just carefully choose a high-quality brand and you get a perfectly balanced diet all prepared.
Don’t hesitate to give treats to your hamster after a gap of one day as it will keep him happy.
Here are some frequently asked questions that will help deal with your hamster’s obesity in a better way:
No, not all hamsters overeat. It depends upon the personality of the hamster. Some hamsters are greedy and others are very calm. Some hamsters are very possessive regarding their food and others are not.
A diet that fulfills all the nutritional needs of your hamster is ideal for him/her no matter if he/she likes it or not. You can find prepared hamster pellets at almost every pet store that offer perfectly balanced nutritional value. However, it is recommended to offer your hamster treats with a gap of 24 hours to keep the frustration away.
A metal hamster wheel that is around 7 to 8 inches big is good for a Syrian hamster. Golden or Syrian hamsters are big and small wheels can be dangerous for them. In worst-case scenarios, small hamster wheels have even broken the backs of hamsters.
Obesity In Hamsters Summed Up
Your minor negligence can lead to obesity in the hamsters. You need to keep your hamster in shape to increase its life expectancy.
We learned that factors like overfeeding, overeating, lack of exercise, and an unbalanced diet lead to obesity in hamsters. The procedures of checking obesity in hamsters differ according to the breeds. It is because different breeds come in different sizes and have different ideal weights.
You can adopt several practices to reduce the weight of your hamster back to normal.