Is your hamster fat? Hamsters are naturally chunky or chubby-shaped, which is a completely normal hamster shape. Some hamsters are simply furry and fluffy. Other hamsters can become downright obese. Where does your pet hamster fall? Do you have a fat hamster? Dr. Jess answers this question and more below in this article.
Is My Hamster Fat or Are They Normal?
I get this question a lot. Is your hamster fat or just fluffy or are they completely normal?
Some physical features of hamsters make it sometimes difficult to figure out – hamsters have a naturally chubby physique, even those hamsters who are not considered fat, overweight, or obese.
Hamsters have cheek pouches that they store food in, which make their cheeks look quite round and chunky.
They also carry around a very round belly or abdomen in general, which makes them sometimes look like they have little buddha-like bellies, especially when they are curled up, sitting, or relaxed.
However, a normal weight hamster, when stretched out, will no longer have that big old beer belly, it’ll disappear when the hamster stretches out their belly.
There are a few other ways to help you decide whether you have an overweight hamster, and if you should be concerned about it.
The average syrian hamster, those hamsters you typically see in pet stores, weighs approximately 5 – 7 ounces, while a small or dwarf breed of hamster weighs around 0.5 – 1.5 ounces.
How do you weight your hamster with such small numbers? Easy!
Place your hamster on your kitchen scale. If you need to, you can gently place your hamster in a bowl after you tare the scale with the bowl to ‘zero‘, then placing your rambunctious hamster in the bowl and weighing how much your hamster currently weighs.
Once your hamster goes above these weights, you are looking at an overweight furry friend.
Your hamster in overweight and if they continue in this trajectory, they will be considered fat and can even become obese.
An overweight or obese hamster is just asking for health issues – so it is best to take care of the health issue before it becomes something to serious to come back from.
The first step to rectify the situation is to determine why your hamster is fat in the first place.
Why Is My Hamster Fat?
There are multiple reasons why your hamster may be fat. Here are the most common reasons why you may have an overweight or obese hamster in your home.
High Caloric Diet:
A hamster is a very small little mammal, so what they stick in their mouths counts… especially when it comes to calories and nutrients.
If you have a fat hamster, check to see what you are feeding them.
What type of nutrition is going into their bodies and how many calories are they consuming compared to how many calories they are burning.
Weight gain and weight loss can be tracked using simple math, just like in humans.
More calories consumed than burned off, then you see weight gain.
More calories burned than consumed, and you see weight loss.
One of the biggest culprits leading to an overweight rodent of any type, is the calorie content in their diet.
Lack of Exercise:
Right along with a calorie-rich diet leading to weight gain, a lack of exercise can be to blame right with it.
Exercise is another way that your hamster can burn those calories that they take in during eating.
So even if your little furry friend eats a high-calorie diet, if they burn all those calories off with exercise, as long as their diet is also fully nutritious for them, then that diet is completely acceptable.
However, if the hamster is not exercising and also consuming a lot of food or a higher caloric diet, then weight gain is almost inevitable.
Does My Hamster Need To Lose Weight?
If you would like to have the healthiest hamster that you can, then yes, taking your hamster from overweight or obese, to a normal healthy weight, is what is going to be best for them.
This weight loss should not be drastic, but taking it slowly will help keep your pet healthier for longer.
Now that we’ve decided that doing something about the weight gain will only help your little buddy out… let’s find out just how we should do that, and do it safely.
How To Get a Fat Hamster To Lose Weight:
There are a number of things that you can do as a pet parent at home to try and help your hamster lose weight.
I always recommend that you speak with your veterinarian before you change up your pet’s diet to make sure that nothing else is going on medically, and that the specific change in diet is healthy for your hamster.
If you have a fat hamster, the culprit just may be their diet.
Check to see how much of their diet is made up of high-fat or high-carbohydrate or high-sugar contents. Look for foods high in nuts and seeds.
Or possibly, check to see how many treats you are feeding them per day. Even some fresh fruits are very high in natural sugars!
Look into changing your hamster’s diet with the help of your local vet.
Make sure that they have access to a balanced diet so that they consume the correct nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
They can have fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, and treats too, but you must make sure that all food offered to your pet is in moderation, and at the end of the day, that their diet is complete and balanced for their little bodies to stay healthy.
If you keep to this type of diet, in the correct daily amounts, your pet will be more likely to stay in a healthy weight range.
Here are a few ideas of how you can help your hamster increase their exercise time:
- exercise ball: let them roam and explore your home while getting more exercise. Monitor your hamster while inside the exercise ball at all times.
- hamster wheel: placing a hamster wheel in your hamster’s cage is one of the easiest ways to help increasing exercise times. Hamsters will run for hours in the wheel at times!
- play for treats: you can create an obstacle course or can play a game of come-and-get-it where your hamsters reward for moving about, is a simple, healthy, low calorie and low sugar treat.
- larger cage to move about: the larger the enclosure that your hamster lives in, the more likely they will travel throughout their day. They are more likely to get more steps in per day with more property to explore!
Exercise Equipment For Hamsters
Here are a few examples of products that you can purchase for your hamster to help you increase their daily exercise routine. Please closely monitor your pet when they have access to, or are using these products. And as always, if you have questions regarding the use of any of these products, contact your local veterinarian before introducing your furry friend to them.
Hamster Exercise Wheel, Silent Spinner
Hamster spinning wheels are an excellent way to help your hamster get more exercise. Just be aware that hamsters are notorious for running in these wheels for hours upon hours at night when you are trying to sleep. So if you are a light sleeper, you may want to consider relocating where your hamster's cage is if it is currently in your bedroom.
Silent Runner 9" Wheel + Cage Attachment
Here is another example of a hamster wheel that can be great for increasing your hamster's time spent exercising.
Standard Exercise Ball, 7-Inch
Exercise balls can be a great way for your hamster to expend some energy, get some exercise, and get out of their cage and explore new environments all at the same time. You must monitor your hamster once placed in the ball and never let them roam the house unsupervised - they could get stuck or hurt themselves.
Vitakraft Slims Carrot Crispy Nibble Stick Treat
If you are going to play for treats, make sure the treats that you play with and ultimately give your hamster after the play session, are healthy for them and will not contribute to weight gain. Look for snacks that are low in calories, sugars, and carbohydrates.
Kaytee Crittertrail Two Level Habitat
When deciding on a hamster cage, particularly when dealing with a fat hamster, you want to make sure that the cage is of adequate size so that the hamster is comfortable and can run around, play, and exercise all from inside the enclosure. The cages that I find best for this scenario are both 1. customizable - so that you can change how items are arranged inside of the cage to keep your hamster far away from boredom, and cages that are also 2. expandable - where you can purchase add on pieces to make the cages even larger.
Hamsters are normally built as chunky little furry friends.
However, if you suspect that your hamster is overweight after weighing them, looking at the diet that you are feeding them, as well as the amount of exercise that your hamster gets on a daily basis, will help guide you and your veterinarian as to how to help your pet lose the necessary weight they need to be healthy and happy again.
Most of the time, a diet change paired with an exercise regimen, is exactly what it will take to jump start your hamster’s weight loss.