Enclosures for Elderly, Pregnant, and Special Needs Hamsters
There are cases where the enclosure needs to be renovated to suit your hamster’s special needs. In these scenarios, sometimes removing typically required enrichment items is necessary to do. However, unless it absolutely has to be done, we caution against doing too many big changes to your hamster’s environment as these big changes can be stressful for them especially when it involves removing things like the wheel or downsizing the entire enclosure.
Tailoring enclosures for elderly hamsters
Many hamsters even in their old age still love to explore and go around. They can still benefit from a normal enclosure setup. However, elderly hamsters may have less energy than younger hamsters so it won’t be uncommon to see them falling asleep in places they usually didn’t when they were younger. For example, if your hamster used to exclusively sleep in his burrows in his youth, it won’t be out of the ordinary if he starts sleeping in other places as he gets older.
If your elderly hamster is struggling to find their water bowl or food, it would be a good idea to move this to a place where it is easier for them to access. Sometimes, they may struggle to chew or eat their food, so special food meant for older hamsters may have to be served in a bowl instead of being scatter-fed.
It might also be a good idea to keep things at a more even level so that your hamster doesn’t struggle too much with the various heights. You want to remove things that are too steep so that your hamster doesn’t struggle to reach his necessities. Making small changes to their setup so that things are closer together and easier for them to interact with will also be more helpful to them.
Enclosures for Injured Hamsters
Injured hamsters require a safe and comfortable environment so that they can heal and recover. The kind of setup your hamster needs depends on his kind of injury. For example, if he just had surgery from the vet and needs to recover, your vet may advise you to temporarily remove the wheel until he makes his full recovery. Always talk to your vet first regarding ways you can make their recovery more comfortable.
Enclosures for Blind Hamsters
Being blind does not significantly hinder most hamsters since hamsters have poor eyesight to begin with. Blind hamsters will still benefit from a large cage with natural textures and proper enrichment. They might be a little more defensive when handled, but you should still provide them with all the necessary enrichment items. Providing lots of various textures will also be good for your hamster.
To read more, FiveLittleHams has a good article on taking care of a blind hamster.
Enclosures for Hamsters with missing limbs
Hamsters with mobility issues or missing limbs may need a different kind of setup. Opt for a low-profile enclosure that doesn’t have too many navigable heights. Keep the enclosure flat and wide. You may also want to have accessible ramps for your hamster if your cage setup is a little bit more uneven.
Enclosures for Hamsters that are sick
If your hamster is sick, it might not be a good idea to tamper with their enclosure in case it causes them additional stress that can make their sickness even worse. If you need to give your hamster medicine, it might be best to memorize their routine or to know where their favorite hideouts are so that you can gently coax them awake with their favorite treat.
Enclosures for Pregnant Hamsters / Hamsters that have just given birth
We recommend reading Ginger's Guide for a more in-depth guide on caring for pregnant hamsters. In their guide where they have consulted ethical hamster breeders they advise that hamsters who have just been given birth may require a hospital enclosure or a “maternal enclosure”. This is because hamster pups still rely on their mother for warmth and food, and they shouldn’t be able to stray too far from the nest so a smaller enclosure may be necessary. HappyHamstersUK recommends a barless enclosure that is at least 70 x 40 cm (27.5 x 15.75 inches)
You will also need to temporarily remove the wheel before the mother gives birth as the mother hamster may injure her puppies if she drags them under the wheel and starts running on it. The mother hamster may get restless and antsy before giving birth, so you can leave the wheel in the enclosure until a day before her due date. Ginger recommends using a bin cage because they are light enough to easily take to the vet, and you won’t need to relocate the mother and pups to another in case of an emergency.
- Caring for an older hamster. (2022, November 10). The Hamster Forum. https://www.thehamsterforum.com/ams/caring-for-an-older-hamster.17/
- Clarke, G. (2021). Ginger’s Guide:How To Care for Syrian hamsters. Ginger’s Guide: How to Care for Syrian Hamsters.https://hamstercareguide.com/
- Em. (2020, February 12). Blind hamsters: Do they require special care?. correcthamstercare. https://fivelittlehams.wixsite.com/correcthamstercare/blank-1/2020/02/12/blind-hamsters-do-they-require-special-care
- HappyHamstersUK (2023, June 23) So you think your hamster might be pregnant? https://www.instagram.com/p/Ct1XK89tBVR/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
- SomethingAnimal. (2015, April 15). How to Care For an Elderly Hamster. Youtube.com. September 20, 2023,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FY3P3AgCgk
- Victoria Raechel. (2019, September 9). Dealing with An Aging Hamster. Youtube.com. September 20, 2023,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnHA0BNkN9M