How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

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Lockdown weight has been a hot topic of conversation for 2020, because with a pandemic sweeping the nation and a less hectic schedule to keep up, a lot of us have been filling our free time (and faces) with food. But how do you know if your hamster has gained weight? With their adorable chubby cheeks, it can often be difficult to know whether your hamster is overweight or whether they are storing a snack to munch on for later!

How to stop your hamster getting fat: Overfeeding your hamster and not handling them enough can lead to them gaining weight. As long as you feed them a nutritious diet and ensure that they get plenty of exercise then it is unlikely that your hamster will become fat or obese.

It is also important to understand that hamsters, just like other seasonal animals, adapt their feeding patterns and behavior according to the time of year. Therefore, wild hamsters start to grow a thicker coat in winter and tend to only give birth in the spring. Winter White hamsters also tend to adjust their appetite so that they are less hungry when food is difficult to forage for.

Although your pet hamster is unlikely to change their eating habits whilst in your care, you should look out for any signs that your hamster is putting on weight or becoming unhealthy.

How do you know if your hamster is fat or obese?

The easiest way to determine if your hamster is heavier than they should be is to visually examine them. If they feel heavier in your hands and have a slight podge in places other than their cheek pouch, then they may be overweight for their breed.

We probably have the opposite issue with our hamster Oscar, who although loves his food, has always been on the skinnier side and struggles to put on any excess weight.

The average Syrian hamster should roughly weigh an ounce for every inch of their length. Therefore, a healthy adult Syrian hamster will probably weigh between 4 – 6 oz. Unfortunately, this guide cannot be applied to other species of hamster which on average should weigh:

  • Robovorski – around 1oz
  • Campbell Dwarf and a Winter White – between 1-1.5oz.
  • Chinese hamster – anything from 1.5 – 1.8 oz

If you are unsure of exactly how much your hamster weighs and are concerned about their health, then you can weight them on a pair of scales. The scale itself needs to be designed for items like food or post as it needs to be able to read weights as low as 1oz.

In order to ensure that your hamster stays calm and still while being weighed, it is best to place them inside a container (taking the weight of this off the total weight at the end) and adding a couple of treats for them to sit and enjoy.

Signs and symptoms of hamster obesity

In addition to obvious visual weight gain, another sign that your hamster is obese could be lethargy and an uninterest in exercise.

You should be aware of these signs and symptoms as if left untreated, hamster obesity can lead to other illnesses including diabetes, heart problems and an overall shortened life expectancy.

What causes hamsters to become obese?

In their natural environment, in order to survive, a hamster would run for more than a mile a night in search of food, shelter or a mate.

If, however, a hamsters natural habitat is a small, enclosed cage rather than a vast expanse of desert, then it is likely that they will become complacent. With nowhere to run and with food served up daily in a dish there is no motivation for your hamster to exercise.

A lack of regular movement can result in weight gain for your hamster, especially if they are supplemented with lots of tasty treats to eat.

Certain foods in the mix of your hamster’s pre-packaged muesli may look healthy and nutritious, but can actually be fattening for hamster’s just like they are for humans.

A scientific study that was carried out in 2017, concluded that hamsters that are fed a high amount of simple carbohydrates with lipids (fats) are likely to become overweight. Generally, your hamster should only consume approximately 4-7 percent of fat, unless they are pregnant. Therefore, if your hamster is being fed a poor diet, that lacks any fresh fruit and vegetables then there is a chance that they could become obese.

Fat exacerbates the probability of developing hamster diabetes and as certain types of hamsters are prone to this disease it is important that we monitor their intake carefully.

Just like humans, your hamster’s weight also tends to fluctuate depending on the seasons. When the nights start to draw in and there are fewer daylight hours, hamsters commonly gain weight. This is due to an increase of melatonin and is a natural result of your hamster “preparing” for winter. The opposite happens when summer returns, as hamsters tend to undereat allowing their weight to return to normal.

Finally, if you do notice that your female hamster is gaining weight around their middle, then you should check that you are not confusing their weight gain for being pregnant . If your female hamster gets plenty of exercise and has a healthy diet, then check with your vet that this sudden weight gain is not caused by the arrival of impending pups.

How to treat a fat hamster

Prevention is always better than cure, so the best thing to do is to instil healthy eating habits with your hamster from the start.

If it is too late for this and your hamster is starting to become on the chubbier side, then you may need to replace the fatty snacks with plenty of fresh green. If your hamster is obese then you may need to place them on a low-fat diet for a short while, but please only do so having consulted with your vet.

Another great way to keep your hamster fit and healthy is to ensure that it has a large supply of toys and exercise options. This could be a hamster wheel, maze of tubes, climbing frame or even a homemade tunnel. Regular handling also helps to keep your hamster fit and healthy and provides a welcome change of scene to their everyday cage.

Conclusion

Most hamsters do not eat to excess and love to exercise – especially at night. Therefore making sure your hamster has a good diet to fuel their nighttime antics should stop them from becoming obese. If you are concerned with the health of your hamster then you should get them seen by a vet.

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How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

It is very important for you to keep your hamster’s weight in check for the sake of its overall health.

A hamster that is too fat can develop all sorts of terrible health issues.

The more you know about what your hamster’s weight should be, the easier it will be to care for them.

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Average Hamster Weight

First, you will need to know what your hamster’s weight should be. There are lots of different hamster species, and each one has a different ideal size.

  • Roborovski Dwarf: This type of dwarf hamster should be anywhere from 1 to 1.5 ounces or 25 to 40 grams.
  • Russian Siberian: A Siberian Dwarf hamster should weigh 1.5 to 2 ounces or 40 to 60 grams.
  • Chinese Dwarf: A Chinese Dwarf hamster’s average weight of 1.5 to 1.8 ounces or 40 to 50 grams.

Getting a Scale

It is a good idea to have a scale in your home that you can use to weigh your hamster once in a while. You can get a scale that is designed for weighing food with a digital display. This will give you a fast and accurate way to determine your pet’s weight.

You should be able to find a scale that is suitable for weighing hamsters at your local grocery store. There are lots of these scales on the market, so you’ll want to make a point of choosing one that is very reliable. Spend some time looking through your options online.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

Weighing Your Hamster

When it comes time to weigh your hamster, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind. One of the most difficult things about doing this is getting your rodent friend to sit still. You can try giving them some delicious treat to munch on while you do this.

Another option you will have is to place your hamster in a small container on the surface of the scale. Just make sure that you subtract the weight of the container from the total weight that shows up on the scale’s display.

Tracking Your Hamster’s Weight

You should make a point of weighing your hamster once every 2-3 months. Make sure that you write down their weight each time so you can keep track of it. If you find that your hamster is gaining weight, you’ll need to take action immediately.

There are a number of reasons that your hamster might be getting fatter. If they have suddenly become lethargic and aren’t exercising as much, weight gain will most likely occur. It is important that you take them to the vet to get looked at right away.

How to Maintain Your Hamster’s Weight

If you want to keep your hamster healthy over the course of its life, it is crucial that you do whatever possible to maintain a normal weight. There are a number of ways to do this that you should know about.

1. Keep them on a Healthy Diet

It’s absolutely crucial that you keep your hamster on a healthy daily diet. You’ll need to give them food that is packed with nutrients and high in protein. It should also have high quality ingredients.

If you are not sure whether or not the food you are giving your hamster is meeting their nutritional needs, you should consult your vet. A hamster that is being fed sub-standard food can gain weight quite rapidly.

A high-quality pelleted diet and/or loose seed mix is ideal for hamsters. Take the time to look into some of your hamster food options so you choose the right one. You’ll also want to look at the label on each product to see what all of the ingredients are.

2. Choose the right Foods for Snacks

It is okay to give your hamster the occasional snack or treat, but you need to choose the right foods. Some of the most nutritious foods to give your pet include strawberries, beets, pumpkin, broccoli, hazelnuts, grapes and melons.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

3. Portion Control

If you have an overweight hamster, you’ll want to cut their meal portions by about twenty five percent, at least for a while. This will help to get your rodent friend down to a healthy weight as quickly as possible.

4. Put in an Exercise Wheel

It’s also a good idea to put an exercise wheel in your hamster’s cage. This will provide them with a great way to get exercise and stay fit. These animals love running on a wheel, and it will provide them with mental stimulation. Take the time to find a wheel that is appropriate for your hamster’s size.

5. Monitor Your Hamster’s Hoarding

It is perfectly normal for hamsters to hoard food, but you need to pay attention to how much they are hoarding. You don’t want to keep refilling their food bowl if they already have enough food stored away in their cage.

6. Outside-of-the-cage Exercise

Another good way to provide your hamster with fat-burning exercise is to put them in a large ball and let them roll around the house. Just make sure that your hamster doesn’t accidentally go down a flight of stairs.

Conclusion

  • It is important to consider the average weight of your hamster, as each species is different.
  • You’ll want to have a scale for measuring your hamster every couple of months. You can get a scale that is designed for weighing food.
  • You can put your hamster in a small container on the scale when weighing them. This will keep them on the scale long enough to get an accurate reading.
  • Your hamster needs to get exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy weight.
  • An exercise wheel is an essential part of any hamster’s habitat, so you need to make sure they have one to use on a daily basis.
  • You can also put your hamster in a ball and let them roll around the house to get some exercise.
  • Feed your hamster a balanced and nutritious diet each day to ensure a healthy weight over the long term.

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Hi! I’m Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Handler, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel “Salvador Dali” and breedless friend called Fenya. “I can’t imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop”.

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You may notice a slight increase in girth or a larger abdomen in a pregnant female a few days before she gives birth. As pregnant hamsters approach the time to deliver the litter, they may become restless and active and may have vaginal bleeding. When they are ready to give birth, provide them with nesting material.

How many days are hamsters pregnant?

Pregnancies usually last from 16 to 22 days, depending on the type of hamster. (Syrian hamster pregnancies tend to last 16 to 17 days.) You may notice a slight increase in girth or a larger abdomen in a pregnant female a few days before she gives birth.

How long is a hamster pregnant for?

Hamster
/
Gestation period
View 15+ more

How long does a Syrian hamster last?

between 1 and 2 years

What should I do if my hamster is pregnant?

– Provide extra bedding.
– Take the hamster to the veterinarian for a prenatal checkup.
– Be sure the mother has a good diet and plenty of water throughout her pregnancy.
– Take the pups to the veterinarian for a check at about 1 month of age.

Is my dwarf hamster fat or pregnant?

You can tell that a hamster is pregnant if she appears to have gain weight. A noticeable bulge in her abdomen just over her hips can be seen days before the delivery. She acts restless and agitated. She hoards more food than usual and begins to add more bedding materials to the nest.

What are the signs if your hamster is pregnant?

You may notice a slight increase in girth or a larger abdomen in a pregnant female a few days before she gives birth. As pregnant hamsters approach the time to deliver the litter, they may become restless and active and may have vaginal bleeding. When they are ready to give birth, provide them with nesting material.

Do hamsters eat their own babies?

If a hamster is feeling excessively stressed, then it may eat its babies. … Fear: It is normal for mothers of many species to want to protect their young, and hamsters are no exception. But when hamsters are scared or fearful, this emotion can result in killing and eating their own young.

Do dwarf hamsters have balls?

Characteristics of Dwarf Hamsters Dwarf hamsters have some additional features to help you determine their sex. … Male dwarf hamsters also may be identified by their testicles and the shape of the hind end tapering toward their tails. The testicles are most visible on mature hamsters.

How long is a hamster?

Hamster
Rodent
Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains 19 species classified in seven genera. They have become established as popular small pets. The best-known species of hamster is the golden or Syrian hamster, which is the type most commonly kept as pets.
Wikipedia

Eaten by:
Red fox
Gestation period:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 20 – 22 days
Scientific name:
Cricetinae
Mass:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 20 – 25 g, Chinese hamster: 30 – 45 g, Chinese striped hamster: 17 – 31 g
Lifespan:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 2 – 3 years, Chinese hamster: 2 – 3 years
Length:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 4.5 – 5 cm, Chinese hamster: 8.2 – 13 cm, Chinese striped hamster: 7.4 – 10 cm

How long does it take for a dwarf hamster to get pregnant?

What is the average lifespan of a hamster?

Hamster
Rodent
Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains 19 species classified in seven genera. They have become established as popular small pets. The best-known species of hamster is the golden or Syrian hamster, which is the type most commonly kept as pets.
Wikipedia

Eaten by:
Red fox
Gestation period:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 20 – 22 days
Scientific name:
Cricetinae
Lifespan:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 2 – 3 years, Chinese hamster: 2 – 3 years
Mass:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 20 – 25 g, Chinese hamster: 30 – 45 g, Chinese striped hamster: 17 – 31 g
Length:
Roborovski dwarf hamster: 4.5 – 5 cm, Chinese hamster: 8.2 – 13 cm, Chinese striped hamster: 7.4 – 10 cm

How do you tell if a dwarf hamster is a boy or girl?

The surest way to tell whether a hamster is male or female is by looking at the anogenital distance. This is the distance between the genital openings (penile opening in male hamsters; vaginal and urinary openings in females) and the anus. This distance is much shorter in females than males.

What do I do if my dwarf hamster has babies?

– Make Your Hamster Feel Comfortable.
– Feeding a Pregnant Hamster.
– Separate Your Hamsters.
– Give Your Hamster Privacy.
– Weaning the Baby Hamsters.
– Young Mother Hamsters.

Will the father hamster eat the babies?

Separate the father from the litter at all times The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage.

Can a hamster get pregnant by itself?

Hamsters are only pregnant for a very short length of time – some species give birth less than 20 days after mating! If your hamster has been in contact with a male over 30 days ago, then they’re not pregnant. If the mating had been successful, you would already have lots of baby hamsters.

Do hamsters eat their dead?

It’s an instinct like the store owner said.In the wild,they will eat a dead hamster so predators won’t come and disturb the hamster’s nesting place.. … A long time ago we had another hamster who died after 2 years – before he died he would always sleep, and shacked when he walked – his activity slowed down.

How long is a Syrian hamster pregnant for?

How many times can a hamster get pregnant?

Female hamsters come into estrus, or heat, every four days or so. 2 This is the time they will be fertile and receptive to a male. Within 24 hours of giving birth, a female can become pregnant again.

How old does a dwarf hamster have to be to get pregnant?

Dwarf Russian hamsters may reach sexual maturity as early as 4 to 5 weeks of age. 1 However, females should not be bred for the first time until they are 3 to 4 months old. Males, on the other hand, can be bred by the time they are 3 or 4 weeks old.

What do I do if my hamster has babies?

– Make Your Hamster Feel Comfortable.
– Feeding a Pregnant Hamster.
– Separate Your Hamsters.
– Give Your Hamster Privacy.
– Weaning the Baby Hamsters.
– Young Mother Hamsters.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

Sexing hamsters can be difficult, especially if they are young or you don’t necessarily have both male and female hamsters for comparison. The basic differences are similar for all species of hamsters—Syrian, dwarf, or Chinese. However, each species has different characteristics or features that can aid in sex identification.

Holding a Hamster to Determine Male or Female

Hold your hamster on its back to look at the belly area. You can cup your hand over your hamster and gently turn it over onto its back, or hold the hamster by the scruff of its neck. Holding the hamster in a slightly upright (“sitting up”) position will help you determine if testicles are present.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

Anogenital Distance

The surest way to tell whether a hamster is male or female is by looking at the anogenital distance. This is the distance between the genital openings (penile opening in male hamsters; vaginal and urinary openings in females) and the anus. This distance is much shorter in females than males. The two openings can be difficult to distinguish in females, while the space in between is normally twice as long in males.

Other General Differences

A few additional differences apply to all hamsters, although these may be difficult to see, depending on the hamster’s age and species.

  • The back end of the male tends to be elongated and rounder in appearance in comparison to the female.
  • Male hamsters often have a noticeable scrotum with testicles after about four weeks of age, although the testicles can be retracted.
  • Only female hamsters have nipples.

Characteristics of Syrian Hamsters

Determining the sex of Syrian hamsters tends to be somewhat easier than sexing other species because the differences between the males and females are relatively obvious. Female Syrian hamsters have relatively visible nipples that appear in two rows running parallel to, and along the sides of, the belly. The nipples are most visible when the hamster’s belly hair is short. Male Syrian hamsters have fairly obvious testicles that extend from their hind end. The testicles may be retracted (as with all male hamsters) or hidden by fur, but generally, they are discernible in most cases.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

Characteristics of Dwarf Hamsters

Dwarf hamsters have some additional features to help you determine their sex. Male Dwarf hamsters have a visible scent gland located near the middle of the belly. There may also be yellow or oily staining around the gland, resulting from the gland’s secretions. Female Dwarf hamsters have very small scent glands that are difficult to see. Male dwarf hamsters also may be identified by their testicles and the shape of the hind end tapering toward their tails. The testicles are most visible on mature hamsters. Finally, male Dwarf hamsters are larger than females, although size is an unreliable measure because it varies by age and the individual animal.

How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

Characteristics of Chinese Hamsters

The most noticeable characteristic of Chinese hamsters is the shape of their hind ends. Males have longer, rounder rear ends than females. However, if you don’t have both sexes of hamsters for comparison, you’ll have to rely on the anogenital distance for positive identification.

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#1 hammyandfluffy

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    #3 hammyandfluffy

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    well, if you in fact have a male and a female who is still fertile, which could be a stretch, she could be pregnant. I’d get to the vet, though, since any growth in such a short amount of time could be an indication of a fast growing tumor.

    I’d also separate these hamsters, not only because you don’t know their sex, but because they are Syrians who should not live together at all.

    #5 hammyandfluffy

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    #6 HamsterGuru

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    Maybe it got tired of hoarding food so it just at alot.

    >POOF ——–>

    TTYL,

    #7 hammyandfluffy

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    #8 dusty

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    Hi hammyandfluffy, I merged these two topics together because they were duplicate.

    Anyway, about your hamsters, have you been keeping them together all these while? If so, then the female should have been pregnant many times long ago since they are already 1 & 1/2 years old.

    Is the hamster fat all around evenly or some particular region only? Some particular growth/tumor/swell might be lopsided. Also, take note of whether the swell is internal or external. If external, something is definitely wrong. Internal organ infection is also possible.

    And yes, you should separate them immediately before you do anything else. Keep us updated.

    #9 hammyandfluffy

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    #1 malloria

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  • So some history:

    tinypixie owns Wubble, a female Campbell’s who came to her obese and who, well, still weighs a lot (in the 70s of grams). I own Jillian, also a female Campbell’s who came to me in November at 87 grams and is now about 79 grams. A couple weeks ago tinypixie and I exchanged PMs about our chubby critters, and we thought our stories were funny enough that they should be shared, and we would then encourage other owners of chubster hamsters to tell stories about life with rotund rodents.

    So for starters I am cutting and pasting selectively from the PM thread. TP = tinypixie; M = malloria
    **********’
    TP: I think Jillian is like Wubby in that they are large and in charge (ha). Last time at the vet with Wubwub, the vet said “maybe she’s just a big girl and she’s proud” lol. It was funny to me, because my vet is a large woman as well. hehe. But anyhoo.
    Wubby is 70. She got down to around 65 but came right back up. We found it hard to be able to feel out tumors on her because she stores her fat around her cheek pouches, which were problematic at the time. It’s hard with fatter hamsters But we didn’t do any radiography on her because her blood did not indicate a need.

    M: Cliff said that Jillian looks like a small bear in the using-the-wheel photo!

    TP: She and Wubble seem to have similar.. shapes

    M: I love the way you wrote “similar. . . shapes.” Oh, yes!
    From the ultrasound the vet said that Jill’s fat is in globules. I imagine that it’d be more hard to lose as a result. She may always be a big girl. It’s just amazing how she looks compared to lean Mable.
    He also said she had the largest cheek pouches he’d ever seen in a ham. And oh, how she stuffs them!

    TP: It’ll be interesting to see if my vet can conduct an US and if Wub is also full of fat globules? Hehe. That’s a fun word.
    When you say biggest cheeks you’ve ever seen, do you mean full or empty? Dr. Golan (my vet) once remarked at how large Wub’s cheeks were, and that she carries a significant portion of her chub around her cheek pouches.
    It’s actually kind of cute, watching Wub run, because she’s “front heavy” meaning most of her weight is by her cheeks/head/front paws, and her back legs are more “free” from fat. Hehe.
    Oh, and does Jill ever like, get her foot lost in her front fat? Wub still does that, and I find it funny but also kind of sad.

    M: I think full and empty! She really is larger than the average dwarf in bone structure (she is so long!), so all the parts should be supersized too, I figure.
    Jill’s fat seems well-spread. She does dip low in front, though, and that’s why the vet thinks that she’s lost fur on her chest due to abrasion. Certainly it makes hygiene a challenge. She’s a wheel-pee-er (unlike Mable) and makes the wheel so messy that I must clean it twice a day. (Must find a container large enough to use as a potty and see if she’ll use it. . .) Even then, she manages to drag her underside in the urine, and then she can’t clean it all off presumably because her chub gets in the way. It’s a must to wash hands after handling her. She leaves prints on the front wall of the tank from trying to get attention, because she’s walked in the urine first. I wear already-dirty clothes when I let her run on me. Ah, my unsanitary little girl. . .
    Oh, I laughed out loud when you said “gets lost in her front fat”! I don’t doubt that it’s amusing! I think the funniest and saddest thing Jill does is to try to roll in the corners of her spaces and then struggle to get up.

    TP: HAHAHA this should be made into a public thread “the trials and tribulations of obese dwarf hamsters” or something xD
    Wub has lost some fur on her chest, too! Either due to rubbing on the ground or just, the skin is so spread LOL.
    Wow Jill, get it together hygiene-wise LOL.. does she like sand baths? Wub loooves sand baths, and YES when she rolls she sometimes gets stuck! Ahh just like rolling in the corner as you described! Her front paws go one way and her back legs go the other, and she just looks so pathetic xD xD
    Oh the woes and joys of happy fat hamsters

    So, friends, what are your happy fat hamster stories.

    Stress , it is something that comes up in all of our lives. However, stress is one of the key factors in the ever growing problem of obesity . Recent studies have shown the more stress there is in a person’s life the greater the chance of them becoming obese. Luckily there are a number of ways for reducing stress that can help those of you that experience high levels of stress . The first way is to make sure to set aside time to relax and do something you enjoy. Put all thoughts of whatever it is that puts stress on you out of your mind and concentrate on doing whatever it you enjoy. If you are on a schedule then schedule the time and use a timer or alarm to keep track but for that time put everything aside. It can be something as small as taking a nap, or reading a book.

    Meditation

    Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and increase concentration and cognitive periods. By meditating, clearing the mind and relaxing the body you can allow stress to flow from you. Not only that but often times meditation can provide the answers to questions or problems that are causing stress in the first place.

    Exercise

    Not only can exercise work to relieve tension in the body and the mind but it is a good way to fight obesity . If you are stressed consider going for a run, or heading to the gym. Even just putting on some dance music and dancing can help relieve tension, reduce stress and keep your muscles and body in shape.

    Taking regular time off

    This is something that most people do not do. The human body simply was not designed to work the way we work our bodies. Taking time to rest and recharge is essential to removing stress and thereby preventing obesity .

    Diet

    There are a lot of things in the diet of average people that are causing an increase in toxins. Highly processed foods, fast foods, and fatty foods are all contributing factors. These toxins put unnecessary stress on the body, slowing its processes down and making it a less efficient machine. This is also a form of stress and a definite contributing factor to obesity .

    If stress is a major part of your life and you are obese or are in a risk category for obesity consider the before mentioned ways of reducing stress to help make sure you can fight against obesity and make sure you stay healthy as well as happy.

    How to tell if a dwarf hamster is obese

    Because of ignorance or greed, there are numerous hybrids dwarf hamsters in captivity. Unfortunately, these hamsters are at risks and moreover, the two species they come from.

    In the wild, Russian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) and Campbell’s hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) never meet. Indeed, the Russian hamster lives in Central Asia (Mongolia, Dzungary), while the hamster of Campbell is most often found in China. However, in captivity, hybrids are very common because of ignorant people or even unscrupulous breeders. This hybridization causes many problems.

    What is a hybrid?

    First of all, what is a hybrid? A hybrid is the result of a cross between two species. Here are the species of hamsters we know in captivity:

    To our knowledge, only the Russian hamster and Campbell’s hamster can hybridize because they have the same number of chromosomes (28) and these chromosomes are similar in size and morphology. However, some chromosomes show structural differences and that’s what is causing numerous problems.

    Where do these hybrids come from?

    The first cause of hybridization of dwarf hamsters is ignorance. How could a beginner make the difference between two species that are very similar?

    The search for profit is also at stake, with pet shop managers who do not care about the pedigree of rodents and have them reproduce at all costs without any control.

    Then, some breeders are also to incriminate. In 2006, for example, Dutch breeders reportedly mate Russian hamsters with Campbell hamsters. As the Campbells have a much wider colour range, the goal was to get new colors in Russian hamsters, which do not display a lot of colours. Breeders managed to obtain the following colour mutations: Tangerine, Mushroom, Orange, Brown, Moscow. Then they crossed these hybrids with Russian hamsters to fix these colours in the latter, destroying the purity of the lines. This is why in some countries these colours are banned from shows and competitions, since their carriers are not “purebred”.

    What is the problem?

    First of all, the health of the mother hamster and her babies can be put in danger before or during the birth. Indeed, there may be a difference in size of fetuses and placentas between two species. A scientific study has shown that a female Russian hamster that has been bred with a Campbell male will have embryos that are 38% heavier than any other type of cross. Even more striking: the placenta is 300% bigger!

    With embryos, babies and an overdeveloped placenta, the risks for the young and the females are also enormous… Hybrid babies die during pregnancy or are stillborn. The worst case scenario is when the mother can not give birth because the babies are too fat and dies in terrible pain…

    Conversely, the same scientific study showed that babies born from the cross between a Campbell mother and a Russian father were 40% smaller than their parents. However, this difference in size is observed only once at birth, and not during the embryonic development, which seems normal.

    When hybrids survive, it is to have a short life, about 12 to 18 months, instead of 24 months minimum. They are very likely to suffer from diabetes, a disease that is unfortunately all too common in Campbell’s hamster. They can also be affected by many birth defects, including organic malformations invisible to the naked eye.

    They may also have neurological problems. One of them is called “stargazing”: the hamster makes a “back flip”, when in fact it is his brain that is sick. There are also cases of backflipping, when the hamster can not stay up. Hybrids also show behaviour problems, they constantly repeat the same movements.

    Breeders also report cases of aggression and nasty bites, which inevitably leads hamsters to be neglected, abandoned or euthanized.

    On the fertility side, the two types of crosses (Russian female x male Campbell and vice versa) can produce sterile males and females with decreased fertility.

    Finally, the breeding of hybrids to the detriment of each of the two species (Russian hamster and Campbell’s hamster) could lead to their disappearance. Unfortunately, a lot of hamsters sold in pet stores are hybrids … Moreover, few enthusiasts make the effort to find a good breeder while it’s so easy to just go to the local pet store.

    How to recognize a hybrid Campbell x Russian?

    First of all, be aware that it is often very difficult to recognize a hybrid for several reasons. It depends first on the degree of hybridization: does the hamster come from a single generation, or from several? What is the proportion of Campbell genes compared to Russian genes? What genes are activated, replicated, dormant? Impossible to know. A hybrid can look a lot like a Campbell or a Russian. And these two species are also very similar! When it’s hard enough to tell the difference between a Campbell or a Russian, it’s impossible to unmask a hybrid …

    However, here are few key features:

    • Hybrids have unique colours: Mushroom, Mandarin, Orange, Brown, Moscow. (And the Campbell Hamster has a lot more colours than the hybrid and the Russian).
    • A hybrid can display the morphology of one species, but the colours of the other.
    • A hybrid sometimes has defects like a surplus of skin, too big ears, or an irregular dorsal line.
    • A hybrid sometimes has smaller eyes and a pointed snout.
    • A hybrid often has diabetes, whereas it is rare in Russian hamster.

    What to do if I discover that my hamster is a hybrid?

    The first thing to do is to make sure he is in good health. Bring him to the vet, and test him for diabetes. If you find that your hamster is diabetic, you can give him fenugreek seeds and especially review his diet to eliminate any source of glucose.

    Watch your hamster carefully and make sure he does not have any neurological problems. Enrich his environment to stimulate his neurons and avoid stereotypical behavior.

    Then contact the person or pet shop that sold you your hamster to learn more about the dangers of hybridization.

    How to stop hybridization?

    There are some very simple steps to take … if only rodent enthusiasts were sufficiently informed, and if the stores did actually care about the origin of the animals they sell!

    • Inform rodent enthusiasts about the dangers of hybridization
    • Teach amateurs to try to recognize a hybrid
    • Inform pet shops
    • Stop buying hybrids
    • Do not breed hybrids
    • Do not cross Campbell hamsters and Russian hamsters
    • Adopt Campbell hamsters or Russian hamsters from recognized breeders with pure lines