Happy Easter Everyone, but it's not those crafty chocolate eggs we're all hunting for at the moment. A proper glimpse of English sunshine and maybe a steady blast of warmth would feel pretty fantastic right about now - Brrrrrrrrrr !!!
These prolonged cold temperatures are not good for small furries, or me, for that matter !!! And our poor hamster Angel has gone into hibernation twice as a result.
Hibernation is not an illness, but a hibernating hamster can be mistaken for an ill, or even dead, hamster, so never assume. Syrian hamsters, in particular, are prone to hibernation if there is a sudden drop in temperature and although Angel looks like a mini polar bear in all her white furriness, she does seem susceptible during this cold weather.
The first time I found Angel hibernating was when she was due a cage clean and she didn't move when I opened the cage, laying so still, curled in a ball in her bed and at first I did think she had died in her sleep. The second time, this morning, in fact, she was in her wheel, curled into a ball. However, even though she felt cold to the touch when I cradled her in my hand and stroked her she moved ever so slightly and her whiskers twitched. She only appeared dead because her heart rate was so low.
So, what should you do if you discover your hamster is hibernating. Obviously, you can't leave him/her, hamsters are not animals that would normally prepare for this situation. They need to eat and drink regularly otherwise they become dehydrated and/or starve.
To help Angel wake up I first cupped her in my warm hand and gently stroked her.
Never, ever put your hamster next to a fire or near a radiator, this would be far too hot, you need to warm your hamster slowly and gently. And as Angel's body temperature gradually increased, so did her heart rate. This, in turn, caused her whiskers to twitch more and her front paws to shake as she began to wake.
After a while she naturally turned herself over to sit in my hand, but she wasn't fully awake yet as her eyes were still tightly closed.
I kept stroking her. It is not until I see her open her eyes and the shivering stop that I need to put Angel into a carrycase with added towels, this is because she is a known biter, and not for any other reason. In the carrycase I have also placed sweet, juicy chopped up veg, especially needed if you don't know how long your hamster has gone without food and water.
By now, you may notice your hamster still very unsteady on his/her feet, just make sure there is plenty of food and water available as it can take your hamster up to an hour to fully recover. However, as soon as you are sure your hamster is back to his/her normal perkiness it is safe for them to go back in their cage.
In Angel's case I do like to check on her more often, which is how I knew that being asleep in her wheel this morning was not normal for her and she is given a lot more bedding when she has a cage clean and I suppose the cold weather is slightly better than all the rain we've had, but can we have some sun now please ??? Pretty please :)