Signs of Old Age in Hamsters

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Hamsters live on average for two to three years. As their thrifty existences peak, they'll exhibit many of the same signs of aging as their human owners. Thinning hair, decreased activity, loss of appetite and vision problems are among the indications that a pocket pet is in the midst of his golden years.

Decreased Activity

One of the first signs of old age in hamsters is a decrease in energy. An aging hamster will not spend as much time running in his exercise wheel or around his cage as he did in the past. This decline in activity will accompany an increase in the amount of time he spends sleeping; you will notice that he rises later in the day and retires earlier as well.

Hair and Skin Changes

As your hamster ages, his hair will become more fine and sparse. You may be able to see sections of his skin through his thinning coat, which will appear dry and flaky over time. These conditions are normal signs of the aging process. You can help keep your pocket pet more comfortable and warm by providing extra bedding to his cage once you notice these fur changes.

Decreased Appetite and Weight

As he ages, your hamster will lose interest in food to a certain degree; you may notice he makes fewer trips to his food dish. When he does grab some food, he will likely place fewer items in his cheek pouch to hoard for a future meal. As a result of his lower caloric consumption, your hamster will become thinner and more frail as time goes on. The Hammy's World website suggests offering some softer foods to supplement your hamster's diet, such as small amounts of scrambled and hard-boiled eggs and even cucumber.

Vision Changes

Older hamsters can develop cataracts, which the Hamsters as Pets website says are recognizable by a milky appearance of the eyes. Hamsters are naturally nearsighted, so the slow decrease in vision due to cataracts does not impact the quality of their lives much. To prevent a stressful situation you can try not to make any quick movements when handling your elderly hammie. Cataracts can eventually render him totally blind.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common sign of old age in hamsters, just as it is in most mammals. It is characterized by swollen and painful joints; you may notice that your hamster seems to be having difficulty walking, with slower and jerkier movements. If you have items in the cage that your hamster used to climb, remove them so he doesn't injure himself.

Dental Problems

Your elderly hamster may experience dental problems as he ages. For example, his teeth may become crooked, lose, brittle or overgrown. His teeth growing too long can interfere with his ability to eat; seek veterinary care.

    Photo Credits

    • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

    Author

    I hold a degree in journalism from Pace University and have been a professional writer for 15 years. I started my freelance career at the start of 2005 and love the freedom it provides me to learn about and report on a multitude of topics. And, I love not having to commute in the winter! My main hobbies include spending quality time with my family, friends, hamster and guinea pig; going to concerts (particularly Duran Duran); reading; watching television and crafting. I would welcome the opportunity to particpate in your projects.