3 Hamsters dead. Help me figure this out
by cmiller050, Mar 05, 2012
Hello.  I am looking for some advice.  I have lost 3 hamsters in two months and I am frantic to figure this out.  I have had hamsters successfully in the past so I'm not sure what went wrong this time.

I'll start with Grace.  Winter white female died at a year and eight months.  Not bad.  She did have a bout of sticky eye for a week that cleared up a week before she died. I used a hamster friendly cleaner to thoroughly clean her cage.  I threw out the food.

Then there was Olivia.  Black bear female.  I got her three weeks after Grace died.  She was solitary and I figured she needed time to adjust.  She did not eat much and slept alot.  Found her dead after 8 days.  Cleaned the cage again, threw out food.

Two weeks later I got Rosie.  Small dwarf hamster.  Was being picked on by cage mates.  She was sweet and friendly.  Last day of her life she was literally climbing the walls.  She was trying so hard to get out.  I found her that evening dead after bring her home 7 days earlier.

I have been racking my brain.  The only common denominator was a bag of bedding I bought two weeks before Grace died.

I called the company and there has not been a recall or anything.  I used the Carefresh small pet bedding.  They said that their bedding does not have any cedar or pine.

I am at a loss.  Heartbroken and hoping for an answer.
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Member Comments (5)
by ireneo, Mar 07, 2012
But is the bedding being used for the other hamsters? If it was contaminated with something, it would affect them too. I'm not sure what type of hamster friendly cleaner you're using but to properly disinfect, bleach and water works extremely well. You do it away from the others, let the cage sit in the 10% bleach/water solution for at least 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly and then dry. It wouldn't hurt to set it out in natural sunshine for a day. Bleach breaks down in the light and becomes neutral. That's just in case you're concerned about any residue in the crevices where the bars meet.

If you're getting the hamsters from the same pet store, you may want to contact them. They may have some lingering disease there that they need to address. I would recommend waiting at least a month before getting another hamster and try a different store or supplier.
by cmiller050, Mar 11, 2012
thank you for your reply.  I used fresh bedding for each hamster.  But bedding from the same opened bag (kept in airtight bin). I talked to a rep at Carefresh who manufactures the bedding.  She said that the bedding is free of pine and cedar.  She said it is possible that the bag I got has wood dust which can cause respiratory harm.  

The cleaner says hamster friendly.  Can I use something like ivory soap?  or do you think bleach is the solution?  I'm just afraid of any residue.
by ireneo, Mar 12, 2012
I understand your concern. There are other disinfectants on the market but they're expensive. Bleach is available, cheap and kills most any bacteria/parasite around (I can name a few exceptions but they're not things you would find in a hamster). I work with wildlife and we use bleach to disinfect the dishes, cabinets and walls and as a final clean for cages. As I said, the components of bleach break down in light and are neutral after about 24 hours. Obviously you can't let the hamsters run around for 24 hours but I was thinking of the cage where the hamsters died. I would do a bleach clean, let it stay empty for a few days before putting anyone else in there.

Ivory soap may float but it's not all that safe for animals. Any idea what chemicals/ingredients are in the hamster friendly cleaner?
by dead_hamster, Jul 15, 2012
I just had the same experience.  Switched litter to Carefresh Advanced Odor Control with baking soda.  Cleaned the cage Sunday.  Found the poor (young) hamster dead today with a piece of the purple bedding in her mouth.  Any thoughts? ***@****
by ireneo, Jul 16, 2012
Sounds like she choked on the bedding. It may smell nice but perhaps there's a tempting taste to it as well. So sad. Years ago we had a small owl that choked on a mouse. Usually we make sure the food fits the animal so to speak, not only in weight/grams but also in ease of eating. Owls tend to gulp it down whole and regurgitate the fur and bones later. A newer volunteer plopped a bigger mouse in the cage and the owl just couldn't quite get it down.

I know - off topic but the point is there are times when an animal will take something just a bit too large into their mouth and choke.