As a devoted hamster owner, you’ve probably spent countless hours watching your hamster scurry around its cage, showcasing its charming agility and boundless energy.
But what happens when your beloved hamster begins to wobble and even topple over unexpectedly? It can be a concerning sight.
What causes hamster wobbling and falling over?
We outline the reasons why a hamster may wobble and fall over and also equip you with the knowledge and insights you need to provide the best care for your hamster.
Here’s why hamster wobbling and falling over happens
A hamster wobbling and falling over can occur due to injury, underlying medical problems, ear infections, old age, stress, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, and uneven cage flooring.
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Is wobbling and falling over a sign my hamster is dying?: Hamster symptoms of dying
Wobbling and falling over can be a concerning sign in a hamster, but it is not necessarily an indicator that your hamster is dying. These symptoms can be associated with various health issues, some of which may be treatable with prompt veterinary care.
The symptoms of a hamster nearing the end of its life can vary, but they often include a combination of the different signs. The Hamster symptoms of dying include:
- Extreme lethargy: A hamster that is approaching the end of its life may become extremely lethargic and spend most of its time sleeping or resting.
- Loss of appetite: A hamster near the end of its life may refuse to eat or drink, leading to weight loss.
- Difficulty in breathing: Some hamsters may experience difficulty in breathing, characterized by labored or shallow breathing.
- Fur loss: A hamster’s fur may appear scruffy or may start falling out.
- Inactivity: A hamster may become unresponsive and may not react to external stimuli or interactions.
- Cold extremities: The hamster’s extremities, such as its ears, paws, or tail, may feel cold to the touch.
- Hunched posture: Hamsters at the end of their lives may assume a hunched or curled posture.
It is important to note that not all hamsters will display all of these symptoms, and the progression of end-of-life symptoms can vary from one individual hamster to another.
Common reasons for hamster wobbling and falling over
If your hamster experiences a fall from a height within its cage, gets stuck in a maze of tunnels, or encounters a sharp object, it can sustain head or body injuries.
These injuries can affect a hamster’s balance and coordination, resulting in wobbling and difficulty maintaining an upright position.
A more severe form of trauma or injury can involve damage to the hamster’s spinal cord. The spinal cord plays an important role in transmitting signals from the brain to the body, including those related to balance and movement.
If the spinal cord is damaged, it can disrupt these signals, leading to mobility issues.
Hamsters have tiny bones and joints that can be vulnerable to fractures or sprains, especially if they experience a sudden impact. Injured limbs or joints can cause discomfort and affect the hamster’s ability to move properly.
Trauma also doesn’t always manifest externally. Hamsters can experience internal injuries, such as bruising or organ damage, as a result of accidents or rough play.
These injuries can disrupt normal bodily functions, including those related to balance and muscle control.
Regardless of the specific injury, any form of pain or discomfort can make a hamster less willing or able to move normally.
They may become hesitant, wobbly, or even immobile due to the discomfort associated with their injury.
Hamsters are small, delicate creatures, and even seemingly minor accidents can have significant consequences.
Underlying health problems
Hamster wobbling and falling over can be caused by underlying health problems. One of the most common hamster health problems is vestibular disease which is a neurological disorder.
The disorder involves the inner ear and the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance. When the inner ear is compromised due to infection, inflammation, or other factors, it can disrupt the signals sent to the brain about a hamster’s position and movement in space.
This can result in symptoms such as severe wobbling, head tilting, and falling over.
Hamsters can also experience strokes, tumors, or lesions which can interfere with a hamster’s nervous system, affecting motor control and balance. Thai leads to wobbling or uncoordinated movements.
See Also: Why do hamsters get bald spots?
Infections in the ear can affect a hamster’s sense of balance. If your hamster has an ear infection, it might appear disoriented, wobble, and fall over.
Inside the inner ear of hamsters, there is a complex structure known as the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation.
This system consists of delicate structures which detect changes in head position and movement.
When a hamster develops an ear infection, it can affect these sensitive structures which can disrupt their normal functioning
As a result of the infection, the inner ear may send distorted or inaccurate signals to the brain about the hamster’s head position and movement. These abnormal signals can confuse the hamster’s brain, making it perceive movements that aren’t occurring or failing to detect real movements.
A hamster may show a range of symptoms related to balance and coordination which include:
Wobbling, head tilting, falling over, circling, and involuntary back-and-forth or circular movement of the eyes.
Ear infections can also be painful for hamsters and lead to feelings of discomfort and disorientation. This discomfort can further contribute to wobbling and falling over as the hamster may struggle to find a comfortable position or move without pain.
Stress can manifest in various ways, including physical symptoms like wobbling and difficulties with balance.
Hamsters can become stressed due to changes in their environment, excessive handling, loud noises, frequent disturbances, overcrowded cages, or the presence of potential predators or the presence of predators like cats or dogs.
When a hamster is stressed, it can lead to muscle tension and stiffness, making it challenging for a hamster to move smoothly causing unsteady movements and a lack of coordination.
Elevated heart rate due to stress may lead to an increase in overall agitation, making a hamster more prone to erratic movements and wobbling.
Stressed hamsters also show altered behaviors, such as increased restlessness, excessive grooming, or a reluctance to move or explore their environment. These behavioral changes can directly impact their coordination and balance.
Old hamster falling over
Older hamsters may experience a decline in their physical health, which can affect their balance and coordination. Age-related issues can lead to difficulties in movement.
As hamsters age, their muscles gradually weaken, just as it happens in aging humans. This muscle weakness can affect their ability to maintain balance and coordinate their movements, leading to wobbling and falling over.
This weakening of muscles can occur throughout the body, making it challenging for the hamster to move and stand steadily.
Older hamsters may also develop joint stiffness or arthritis, a condition that affects the joints’ mobility and flexibility.
Arthritis can be painful and makes it difficult for the hamster to move comfortably. As a result, they may struggle to maintain their balance and may fall over more frequently.
Aging can also impact a hamster’s reflexes and reaction time. Slower reflexes mean that they might not be able to respond quickly to changes in their environment or shifts in their body’s position, making them more susceptible to stumbling and falling.
An old hamster falling over may also be due to an overall health deterioration as they age, leading to a range of issues that indirectly affect its balance and mobility.
Chronic conditions like heart disease or kidney problems can lead to weakness and instability. Also, older hamsters are more susceptible to infections and other illnesses that further impact their well-being.
Older hamsters often become less active and may spend more time resting in their nests. Reduced physical activity can contribute to muscle atrophy and a decline in balance and coordination.
Related: Why is my hamster being so lazy?
Dehydration occurs when a hamster’s body loses more fluids than it takes in, leading to a deficiency of water in its system. While dehydration primarily affects a hamster’s overall health, it can indirectly lead to wobbling and falling over.
Dehydrated hamsters often experience muscle weakness. This weakness can manifest as a hamster being unable to support its weight properly, leading to wobbling and difficulty maintaining an upright position.
A dehydrated hamster may also feel lethargic and fatigued. They may have less energy to perform even basic activities like walking or maintaining balance.
Dehydration can also affect a hamster’s cognitive function and coordination, and cause dizziness and confusion. It may become disoriented and unable to navigate its environment effectively, increasing the risk of wobbling and falling.
Hamster dehydration can occur due to various reasons, including inadequate water intake, hot or dry environmental conditions, or underlying health issues such as diarrhea.
Uneven cage flooring
Uneven cage flooring, a cluttered cage, or inappropriate bedding can make it difficult for your hamster to move properly which can contribute to a hamster being wobbly and prone to falling over:
Some cage materials, like plastic, can become slippery, making it challenging for the hamster to get a firm footing.
Nutritional deficiencies in hamsters can have a profound impact on their overall health, including their ability to maintain balance and coordination.
Essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, play an important role in muscle function and development. Inadequate intake of these nutrients can result in muscle weakness.
When a hamster’s muscles are weak, they may struggle to support their own body weight, leading to wobbling and difficulty maintaining an upright position.
Proper nutrition is also essential for bone development and maintenance. Calcium and phosphorus, for example, are critical minerals for bone strength.
A deficiency in these minerals can lead to weakened bones, which may affect the hamster’s ability to move and maintain balance.
Nutritional deficiencies can result in reduced energy levels and overall lethargy. When a hamster lacks the necessary energy to move and exercise, they may wobble or have difficulty remaining upright due to fatigue.
Parasites can affect a hamster’s health and cause symptoms like wobbling and falling over. Hamsters can contract parasites through various means, including contact with contaminated bedding, food, or through exposure to other infected animals.
Internal parasites, such as intestinal worms such as pinworms can interfere with the hamster’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from their food.
This can result in malnutrition, muscle weakness, and a lack of energy, making it challenging for the hamster to maintain balance and coordination.
What do I do when my hamster wobbles and falls over
If you notice that your hamster is wobbling and falling over, it is important to take action promptly to ensure their well-being. Here are the steps to follow:
Isolate and observe
First, gently and carefully remove your hamster from any areas where it could fall or injure itself further.
Place it in a separate, quiet, and safe environment, such as a smaller cage with soft bedding.
Provide your hamster with easy access to food and water within its temporary enclosure. Ensure that it can reach these essentials without difficulty.
Keep your hamster’s environment quiet and free from disturbances. Minimize handling, especially if your hamster is visibly unwell, as additional stress can worsen the condition.
Pay close attention to your hamster’s behavior. Note if there are any other symptoms or signs of distress, such as changes in appetite, increased or decreased activity, or signs of pain or discomfort.
Assess the immediate environment
Check your hamster’s cage for any potential hazards or issues that could be contributing to the wobbling or falling over.
Ensure there are no uneven surfaces, obstacles, or slippery bedding materials.
Consult your veterinarian
Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian who specializes in small exotic pets or hamsters. A professional evaluation helps to determine the underlying cause of the wobbling and falling over.
Before the vet visit, gather information about your hamster’s recent behavior, changes in its environment, and any potential injuries it might have sustained. This information will be helpful for the veterinarian’s assessment.
Key Takeaway: Why is my hamster walking weird?
A hamster walking weirdly can be caused by various factors including stress, underlying health problems, old age, stress, and dehydration. Therefore, if you observe your hamster wobbling and falling over, it is a sign that something is amiss with their health or environment.
Immediate action is important. Isolate your hamster in a safe place, assess its surroundings, offer support, ensure hydration, and consult a veterinarian experienced with hamsters for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment.
By taking swift and responsible action, you can help your hamster recover and ensure their continued well-being.