Is It Normal For Hamsters To Breathe Fast?

As they are a species distinctly different from us, it is not always possible to detect signs of sickness or potential problems in a hamster. These little creatures are capable of hiding distress and pain quite effectively. However, if you pay attention, you can still tell that something might be off with your beloved pet.
Is It Normal For Hamsters To Breathe Fast?

Some symptoms in your pet might be more noticeable –especially if they show up quickly. On the other hand, there can be some symptoms that are almost invisible. You might have to observe closely and regularly for picking up on something your hammy might be trying to tell you.

As a pet owner, you should know that the ‘normal’ phase is always different for every pet out there. Therefore, your vet is always going to be the best-ever resource for diagnosing the exact illness of your hamster. One of the most common concerns most hamster owners have is with respect to their pets breathing rapidly and heavily. Let us find out more about it!

Why is My Hamster Breathing Fast?

It is not uncommon for hamsters to get diagnosed with some respiratory issues in specific conditions.

Hamsters are known to be quite sensitive to the environment in which they live. Therefore, slight temperature fluctuations or drafts can be sufficient for making them susceptible to some respiratory infection. Even some specific types of bedding (like pine or cedar) can irritate the animal’s respiratory tract while leading to an infection.

Respiratory problems are most commonly observed in hammies that come from pet stores. This is because the overall stressful environment can lead to the weakening of the immune system. Therefore, these creatures become more susceptible to common respiratory infections.

Causes of Respiratory Illnesses in Hamsters

Respiratory diseases or illnesses tend to be highly contagious. These can spread easily from one hammy to another. In case you have obtained your little one from a pet store having other sick hammies, whether or not they revealed symptoms while purchasing them, more than likely, your pet might be sick as well.

Hamsters are also capable of catching some respiratory problems from human beings. In case you are sick, it could eventually make your hamster sick as well. Therefore, if you have a cold or some other respiratory condition, it is recommended not to come in close contact with your pet.

Some of the other causes of heavy breathing or respiratory problems in hamsters include:

  • The hamster is placed in some dark or cold room
  • If the hammy gets wet and is not capable of drying himself properly
  • If there is the presence of a leaking water bowl in the hamster’s cage

Signs of Respiratory Problems in Hamsters

Some of the basic signs of respiratory problems in hamsters include sneezing, labored breathing, and wheezing. You might even notice some discharge from the nose or eyes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Even after light or mild exercise, your pet might collapse due to exhaustion while suffering from some respiratory infection.

A sneeze here & there is never a sign of any major problem. However, when this symptom is accompanied by other problems, you would definitely want to seek vet assistance.

A respiratory problem could lead to pneumonia. Therefore, it is increasingly crucial to diagnose the exact problem as soon as possible. You should look out for signs like extreme lethargy or difficult breathing in your pet from time to time.

In case you notice that your pet is gasping for breath or lying in a stretched-out position, it is a sign of a severe form of respiratory infection. You need to see the vet right away.

What is Normal Breathing for a Hamster?

As per the normal breathing range, it is expected for a healthy hamster to depict respiration between 34 and 114 bpm.

In case of problematic breathing, you will observe your hamster wheezing as it breathes. You can visibly observe its chest expand and contract with every possible breath. You might even be capable of hearing the wheezing sound in addition to possible crackling or rattling noises when the hamster is breathing.

In case your hamster is breathing too fast or heavily, and its condition does not improve, then you should see a vet. You should avoid sitting and waiting for the breathing pattern to get back to normal if it is prolonged. A simple respiratory infection could lead to pneumonia –which could be fatal when left untreated.

How Fast Do Hamsters Breathe When They are Sleeping?

While sleeping, it could be pretty normal for your hamster to breathe slightly heavily. Depending on the sleeping position and the sleeping conditions like temperature, air pressure, and health conditions, your hamster might breathe differently on different nights (or days) while sleeping.

If you wish to ensure the best-ever health for your pet, you can keep a check on its sleeping and breathing patterns simultaneously. If you notice longer instances of peaceful, heavy breathing, it is completely normal. On the other hand, if you observe your hamster panting or gasping for breath during most of his sleep, it is a matter of concern.

Usually, your vet will have you count the breathing rate once every day or week. As such, this will help you and your vet in learning about the actual sleeping or resting breath rate of your pet.

In case you observe that the sleeping or resting breathing rate has increased in your pet, you should aim at counting the breathing rate for some hours. Make sure that you come across a consistent finding. If you observe that the breathing rate is increased consistently, contact your vet.


Upon encountering a breathing problem in your hamster, it is important to consult a vet for the best-possible diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, it is equally important to separate the sick hamster from other pets in your house. This is because respiratory diseases are highly contagious in rodents like hamsters. Ensure the best-ever health for your beloved pet!

missed something?

a little about me
Hi, im Sofia
Hi, im Sofia

I'm a mother of 2, hamster enthusiast, animal lover, and blogger. I have had five hamsters in my life, each with their own personality!

want to know more?
Join Our Hamster Lovers Mailing List