People often speak of the runt in a litter of puppies, but hamster litters can also produce a runt, a pup that is smaller and weaker than the rest of his siblings. Being the smallest of the family can result in the hamster runt's being bullied by his litter mates and sometimes even shunned by his mother. Saving a hamster runt will require acting as its surrogate mother when it comes to feeding. A veterinarian should always be consulted regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Observe the runt to see if it is being allowed to eat. According to Hammy's World, a hamster runt is often pushed away from his mother by his stronger and larger siblings when feeding time arrives.
Handle the hamster runt along with his mother and siblings so they all absorb your scent. This will make the family more accepting of the runt's smell after you begin hand-feeding him.
Feed the runt warmed kitten milk from a medicine dropper, slowly, at a pace dictated by the pup. Allow him to lick the end of the dropper at first while holding him gently. According to Hamster Diaries, feedings of two or three drops each should be administered every hour until the runt is 2 weeks old, to prevent dehydration.
Encourage the runt to urinate and defecate after feedings. According to Hamsterific, this can be done by rubbing the pup's anal and genital area with a warm, wet cloth or cotton swab.
Place the runt back inside the habitat with the rest of his siblings once they have started feeding, and observe him to see if he is allowed to join in the next group feeding session.
Begin weaning once the runt is eating some solid foods, at between 10 and 16 days of age. Encourage this by providing tiny chunks of soft vegetables and fruits. Reduce feedings to once every three hours at first; when the pup is feeding himself, you can stop dropper-feeding altogether.
Items you will need
- Medicine dropper
- Cat/kitten milk (milk safe for cats or kittens to drink; available at pet stores)
- If you know of another litter of hamsters, you can try placing the runt in with that group to see if they will be more willing to let him feed and thrive.
- Don't force a large amount of milk into the runt's mouth too quickly, because it can end up in his lungs.
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