Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 09:22 pm
Constipation is a condition where hamsters have difficulty passing stools. The symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, bloating of the abdomen, squeaking noises, visible straining, and dry stools.
Hamsters can become constipated due to intestinal parasites, blockages, pregnancy, poor diet, stress, and dehydration. Intussusception (when the intestines fold into themselves) is the most serious cause.
Treatment involves dietary modifications (more fruit and vegetables), increased hydration, and vet-prescribed laxatives. Also, a drop of olive oil can be an effective laxative.
If constipation isn’t treated, it can lead to impaction, which is a life-threatening condition.
Do Hamsters Get Constipated?
Hamsters are susceptible to constipation, but it’s not as common as wet tail due to their high-fiber diets.
Constipation is an uncomfortable condition that can result in death if not treated soon enough. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to treat once the cause has been established.
Why Is My Hamster Not Pooping?
According to MSD Veterinary Manual, constipation in hamsters is caused by the following:
- Intestinal parasites, including tapeworms.
- An intestinal blockage due to eating bedding and other inedible items.
- Intussusception (rectal prolapse) is when a portion of the intestines folds into itself.
- Poor diet.
Hamsters who don’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables are more likely to develop constipation due to the food’s lack of fiber and moisture.
While hamsters drink water, their stools become too hard to pass if they don’t drink enough.
It’s common for water bottles to stop working, preventing hamsters from accessing the water they need to keep their digestive systems working efficiently.
How To Tell If Your Hamster Is Constipated
Constipation is an uncomfortable experience, so your hamster will likely show certain signs. The most common constipated hamster symptoms include:
Hunched Up Stance
Constipated hamsters appear hunched up as a result of abdominal pain. They also move around slowly, remaining near-static in their enclosure.
Constipated hamsters appear more tired than usual and spend extra time sleeping.
They also find running on their wheels and foraging for food more difficult. Many hamsters rarely emerge from their burrows and only come out when thirsty.
Straining To Defecate
Constipation makes pooping difficult, so they’ll strain to push out stools.
However, hamsters prefer to poop in their burrows, so it’s not always easy to tell when they’re straining to defecate. You’ll need to monitor your hamster over several days to be sure.
A bloated abdomen signifies that a hamster is struggling to pass feces.
The belly will feel abnormally round and hard, and the hamster will appear increasingly uncomfortable. The longer constipation lasts, the more bloated the stomach will become.
Lack of Appetite
One of the first things constipated hamsters do is stop eating. Hamsters will experience a decreased appetite and skip meals, including their favorite treats.
As most constipated hamsters stop eating, they suddenly lose weight. This is why routinely weighing a hamster is so important, as doing so enables you to keep track of weight loss and gain.
Any poop that constipated hamsters can pass is hard and dry. There won’t be much of it, as the hamster can only pass a few droppings at a time.
How Often Should Hamsters Poop?
While hamsters poop in different amounts depending on their size, stress levels, and diet, they go to the toilet multiple times a day, producing several pellets at a time.
Constipation is hard to notice because you won’t see all of the hamster’s poop pellets. Hamsters are clean animals who prefer to eliminate in a specific, private part of their cage.
Hamsters also eat their cecotropes, which are softer than normal droppings and contain undigested nutrients. So, it can be hard to tell if hamsters are constipated or have eaten their cecotropes.
How Do I Know if My Hamster’s Poop is Healthy?
Constipated hamsters may pass poop, but not as much as normal. Healthy hamster poop should be:
- Small, thin, and oblong in shape.
- Dry and firm, but not too hard.
- Brown or black.
If the hamster’s poop appears abnormal, take it to the vet.
How To Help A Constipated Hamster
To assist a constipated hamster, you must identify the cause. Some causes are more serious than others, like intussusception, which only a veterinarian can treat.
Other times, constipation is temporary and can be cured with dietary modifications and home remedies. Effective treatments for constipation include:
- Giving the hamster a small amount of laxative.
- Physically stimulating it to poop.
The severity of a hamster’s constipation will determine your approach.
You can counteract a hamster’s dry diet by giving it 1-2 drops of vegetable oil daily. That’s because it’s a natural laxative that stimulates the bowels.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables can replenish a hamster’s fiber and moisture levels, making hard, dry poop softer and easier to pass.
You can help a hamster poop by encouraging it to be active.
Sometimes, running is enough to stimulate a bowel movement. Set up a playpen with the hamster’s favorite toys, including a running wheel, and allow it to run around unrestricted.
Another benefit of exercise is that the hamster will be thirsty and drink more water, softening the feces.
Stimulate The Genitals
Mother hamsters help their pups poop by stimulating their genitals. Replicating this process can help a constipated hamster relieve itself, although it may only work on young hamsters.
Position the hamster’s belly on the palm of your hand and rub its back end using your fingertip or a cotton ball under warm water. Doing so imitates the sensation of being licked, encouraging the body to produce the reflex reaction needed to poop.
Minimize Stress Triggers
The International Journal on the Biology of Stress describes how hamsters are vulnerable to stress. Unfortunately, stress is among the most common causes of constipation.
You can prevent constipation from worsening by minimizing these stress triggers:
- Excessive handling.
- Lack of mental stimulation.
- Being trapped in a small cage.
- Hamster balls.
- Sudden temperature or environmental changes.
- Loud noises.
- Bright lights.
- Predatory pets.
As prey animals, hamsters often feel threatened, so avoid the above.
My Hamster Has Poop Stuck
When a hamster’s poop becomes hard and dry, it’ll be difficult to pass waste. Many hamsters pull feces out with their mouths, but if they can’t, their owners must step in to ease the discomfort.
However, don’t pull it out, as this can cause harm. Instead, wet a paper towel with warm water and place it around the stool until it softens. After a little while, the poop should come out naturally.
Even though hamsters shouldn’t be bathed in water, you may need to wipe the area of the hamster’s tail and anus to clean it up. At the same time, stimulate its genitals using the steps outlined above.
Constipation is an uncomfortable condition that can become life-threatening. Providing a fiber-rich diet, encouraging hydration, and minimizing stress are the best ways to get hamsters to poop naturally.