Can anybody help tell me what's wrong with Maria? - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-03-2012, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Can anybody help tell me what's wrong with Maria?

Maria is a 5 month old Campbells Dwarf Hamster. We have had her for 3 months. She has always been, active, happy and friendly. 4 days ago I was startled to hear her in her cage screaming, it was her first ‘attack’. She was running around her cage, falling on her back and screaming as if she was being attacked. We’ve never seen a hamster exhibit this behavior. I talked to her and she calmed down and went for a run on her wheel. Yesterday it happened again, this time she was in her sand bath. She was again on her back screaming and pawing. When she finally calmed down, she went flat on her belly and laid very still with her eyes open. Then in a few minutes she was back to normal. I’m worried and don’t even know where to begin. At first I thought maybe diabetes since we initially gave her an apple branch treat the first day, then a carrot over the weekend….so maybe the sugar affected her, but she doesn’t seem to be drinking more than usual or urinating more which is a main sign of diabetes. Could it be epilepsy? She is up often in the afternoon and early evening, loves to interact with the family, I don't really think she's nocturnal.
I’d appreciate any suggestions! Thank you!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 12:37 PM
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It's odd because she is showing behavior that would normally be exhibited when a cagemate is present. But I assume she lives alone?

As for now, just keep an eye on her. Please note if she ever does actual flips. The flips I am referring to are part of "star gazer" syndrome, not sure if it's as common in RC dwarfs as it is in other species.

The first sign would be a complete backflip out of no where. Later, the hamster continues to flip over and over and over. It is a serious neurological issue.

I would also recommend you take her out before an attack and inspect every millimeter of her body for signs of mites or other skin irritants. Perhaps rolling in the bath made a skin condition flair up for her, and caused her to feel as if something was biting her skin.

Also, we might need to explore what's going on in her cage. Things like cage size, bath sand, bedding, toys etc can bother some hamsters and might cause them to behave strangely.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-05-2012, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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reply and update

She has no cagemates, she's alone. No rash/bites or anything noticable on her skin. I've taken away the dried corn from her feed and 'sweet' fruits and veggies.We've not had anymore screaming occurances. Her cage is a 10 gallon aquarium. It has a wheel, house, vase with sand, food, water and a potty. Pretty standard stuff.

The only thing that has changed is that when she climbs the sides of the tank when she hears us, wanting to get out, we put our hand in the cage she has begun nipping. So, we go back to the 'transport tube' aka empty toilet paper tube to take her in and out of the cage. No more nipping!

I'm glad the strange behavior has stopped, although I'm not sure what caused it, so we will continue to keep a close eye on her.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-05-2012, 11:33 PM
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The nipping sounds like minor cage aggression, and sounds like you have found a good way around it. A different forum I am on, devoted to hamsters, recommends at least a 20 gallon sized cage for hamsters, which usually cures things like cage aggression and boredom.

But, if you are able to take you hamster out a lot and stimulate all the senses you can with your hamster, she should be okay.

I'm glad there has been no more odd occurrences though!

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-07-2012, 12:36 PM
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I would take here to the vets and ask what it could off been. Maybe she was scared off something and it made her "flip" a bit
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-07-2012, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Todays update….We have sorted out the food, removed the corn and sunflower seeds since some sites say for diabetics those foods should be eliminated. We’ve been careful about veggies also, no more carrots after the last incident.

Maria was active ALL morning. Strange for her, usually it isn’t until early afternoon does she reappear after her morning run. We had her in her ball and maze to tire her out, back in her cage and she continued to run, climb and want out. Then I realized my daughter cleaned Marias litterbox today and put in fresh corn cob pellets. Maria immediately went to eating the litter when the box was placed in her cage. This is not new litter, it’s the same we’ve always used. Although since we’ve eliminated the corn, she now smells it a food source? She continued running allover the cage in overdrive. A few hours after the corn eating, she had another ‘fit’. I first heard her screaming, so I went over to see. She was on her back trying to bite the air, paws flailing. It’s uncontrollable running at this point, she was under the wheel stuck for a few seconds, then in the wheel on her back all over the cage. I’m afraid she’s going to hurt herself. I try to interrupt her and get her in the paper tube so she doesn’t get hurt but she’s disoriented. After a few minutes, she lays flat and still, recovering I’m sure. My daughter wanted to comfort her, but Maria was still disoriented so she bit her.

Immediately I dumped the litter and replaced it with another material. Maria went back into her cage and went to sleep.

I’m so confused as to what could be wrong with her. I also wonder, since my daughter and I aren’t home during the weekdays if these are happening during the day and we just don’t know it until the weekend.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 04:22 PM
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Wow I'm sorry I didn't get a notification that you had replied.

This is very mysterious behavior, but ever since dumping the litter, she seems okay?

Some people swear by freezing their litter before they give it for 24 hours in case there were any bugs hiding in it. Unless you can figure out the cause, I would highly suggest doing this from now on.

I am not highly experienced in things like this, but there is a nother forum that I am on where there are plenty of experts who can help you. Private message me if you are interested in the forum, because once you join and post a thread, many people will see it (it's a very active forum) and will help you.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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We only had one incident that I know of on Saturday. She was on overdrive, crazy hyper. I wonder if she has a sugar sensitivity and not diabetes. Something is going on, but I can’t figure it out. She was also defecating during the Saturday occurrence.

She was her normal semi nocturnal self on Sunday, today she was a bit more inactive than her normal but nothing I am concerned about.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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It's been quiet for a few weeks....with regards to Maria. Then, my daughter gave her an apple branch treat, and 2 seizures the same night/early morning-I couldn't sleep and was up reading. I still wonder if they are happening but we are unaware. Her screams were not as loud as before, but her actions were the same. These 2 videos were after the apple branch, which has since been removed. I'm concerned about removing all 'sugar' from her diet. I did give her a few sunflower seeds last week...and she seems ok with them.

Any suggestions or ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

If you search utube.com under hamster seizures one is labeled MVI_4441 This first video is the shorter one, caught at the end of her attack. One flip right at the beginning, then she's still and back to normal.

This is on utube under MVI_4442.MOV This second video is longer, she's near the back of the cage so the quality isn't quite as good, but she's on her back and twisted for much longer. Both of these videos were shot the same early morning. The clicking is the camera strap.

Any ideas, or suggestions on her illness are greatly appreciated!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-17-2012, 09:04 PM
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Did you ever join that other forum? There are experts on it that can really help you. I seem to be the only active person on THIS forum who has hamsters, and I honestly cannot be of much help :/

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, I joined there. Received one comment about my videos that it looked like she was having what one would consider a hamster seizure....that's the only thing I could figure too. I posted on here also, justi n case somebody knew...

My update for the week is no more seizures that we know of, also of course no more sugar....strangest thing....and one of her littermates died suddenly-she was NOT having any strange behavior that the family knew of.

Our Maria is still happy and healthy! Thank you for asking.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-18-2012, 12:12 PM
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No problem. I'm sorry no one could give you any conclusive answers :/

To be honest, it's not uncommon for hamsters who are seemingly healthy to up and die. Especially if they are pet store hamsters with terrible genetics. Sometimes things happen on the inside that we are totally unable to detect.

I think it's excellent you are more knowledgeable about sugar and diabetes in dwarfs. But, I do need to let you know that dwarfs DO need SOME sugar in their diet. Do not remove all and every kind of carb/sugar... because they can go into hypoglycemic shock (I wonder... do you think this could be the seizures?)

I have a diabetic dwarf right now and she is on loads of medication, but I was told to still give her "complex carbs" like an oat... and to limit her millet and easy carb intake. Millet (tiny white seeds) is like "candy for hamsters" so def avoid it, but complex carbs like oats take longer to break down and digest, and have less of a hyperglycemic effect when compared to millet.

Sugar is an important part of a dwarf's diet, but it should be limited.

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