Signs of Heat Stress in Hamsters

white and beige Syrian hamster in a cardboard tube with his paw in the glass of the cage and surrounded by hay
10 February 2021 Pets4Company

Learn to recognize and avoid heat stress in hamsters!

Hamsters can suffer heat stress and heat strokes which, depending on the severity, can lead to discomfort, cause serious health problems or even end up being fatal.

The ideal temperature for a hamster is between 20 and 25 degrees celsius. However, they can be kept for short periods of time in areas with temperatures up to 35 degrees as long as they are in an area with good ventilation.

Whether we live in a country where temperatures are normally high or we are going through an atypical summer, we must pay attention to the temperature of the room in which the hamster is located, recommending the use of a thermometer or temperature sensor .

We must also be careful to keep the hamster in a place without direct sunlight, especially if it is in a plastic cage or glass terrarium, as they quickly become too hot and humid due to lack of ventilation.

Signs of heat stress:

  • Lethargy. Observe if the hamster looks quieter than normal or if he has difficulty walking (walking slowly and dragging) and signs similar to tiredness.
  • Wet, damp, greasy or sweaty coat.
  • Loss of appetite and weight. The hamster eats less or stops eating. Loses weight quickly as a result of loss of appetite and / or dehydration.
  • Increased water consumption / constant thirst.
  • The hamster sleeps in an open area. Under normal circumstances, hamsters seek sheltered spaces in which to sleep, as a result of their survival instinct that dictates the need to hide from possible predators in the most vulnerable moments. If your hamster is looking for an open and unprotected area to sleep it may be an indication that the temperature is above what would be comfortable.

Other signs, although less common, that your hamster's health is declining due to an elevated temperature include: white teeth (one or more teeth are suddenly white), antisocial or aggressive behaviors and diarrhea.

If your hamster suffers from one or more of these symptoms, place your hamster in the coolest part of the house and contact an emergency veterinarian. Some damage caused by heat stress may not be visible and cause health problems later.

gray and white russian hamster in someone's hand

How to keep the hamster cool in high temperatures:

  • Move your hamster's home to the coolest part of the house.
  • Make fresh water available and change it regularly.
  • Keep the container with the bath sand always available. An excess oil coat prevents the release of heat.
  • Place a tile or marble stone in the room so that the hamster can lie down in a cool area.
  • If the hamster has a closed nest, remove it and make an open nest or tapes of paper towels or toilet paper available so that it can hide. This option is cooler and more breathable in the hot months.
  • As a food supplement, fresh, water-rich fruits and vegetables such as cucumber and watermelon.

Do you want to know more about the influence of temperature on the health and behavior of hamsters? See our article on hibernation and torpor!