Especially if your hamster has eaten something wrong or dangerous, you probably wonder if he can help himself by vomiting.
But can hamsters vomit?
The amazing and at the same time shocking answer is given in this article.
Can hamsters vomit?
No, hamsters cannot vomit. Just like other rodents and horses, this is anatomically impossible. This is a significant danger especially in cases of poisoning or blockages in the digestive tract.
Thus, your hamster cannot help itself in case of poisoning, nausea or stomach upset.
An important realization!
We’ll look at how you best proceed in these cases at the end of the post.
Why can’t they vomit?
To do this, you need to understand hamster digestion.
Just like other rodents, the musculature in the digestive tract is very weak. This also affects peristalsis. Peristalsis is the undulating movement of the esophagus and intestines that occurs, for example, during swallowing and serves to transport food.
Due to the weak musculature, it is necessary for hamsters to eat numerous small meals and to eat very frequently in small intervals. This is the only way to keep the food moving through the esophagus, stomach and intestines until it is excreted.
This is why there is talk of a so-called stuffed stomach.
Vomiting, on the other hand, is not possible because the muscles cannot contract strongly enough. Even if the hamster retches, the food mush is not transported upwards from the stomach.
Nevertheless, it can sometimes appear as if the hamster has vomited….
There is something in the hutch that looks like vomit – what is it?
Whether you observe your hamster retching or find what appears to be vomit in the cage: This is not vomit or the contents of the stomach.
If the hamster gags and then eats food, it has merely emptied its cheek pouches. If you find something in the hamster’s home that looks like vomit, it could also be the contents of the cheek pouches.
However, it could also be diarrhea, which is common in hamsters. Since the digestion is not completely finished by the disturbance, still recognizable food remains can be found in it. Because of this and the liquid to mushy consistency, it may resemble vomit.
If you want to be sure what it is, check your hamster.
Diarrhea often leaves traces on the fur in the anus area and can even make it sticky.
Completely empty cheek pouches despite the presence of food, on the other hand, may indicate that the rodent has emptied them.
Usually, however, this does not happen outside the nest. This behavior therefore suggests that the hamster has ingested something wrong or is suffering from nausea.
This is exactly the danger of hamsters not being able to vomit.
If they have eaten something that may be toxic or dangerous for some other reason, they cannot remove it from their body until it has passed through the entire digestive tract.
Even large amounts of hair or fabric fibers ingested during grooming can therefore be problematic. This is because, unlike cats, they cannot excrete them again through gagging and vomiting before they enter the intestines.
What to do about stomach upset and nausea?
If you suspect your hamster is feeling nauseous or has a stomachache, quick action is needed.
Possible signs that he has eaten something unpalatable include:
fluffed up fur
Hard, bloated belly
emptying of the cheek pouches outside the nest
restlessness or lethargy
diarrhea or lack of defecation
In these cases, you should see a veterinarian immediately. Ideally, you will know what the hamster has eaten in the last few days and whether, for example, there was access to houseplants or an inappropriate material was gnawed on.
With this information, it is possible for the vet to narrow down the search for the problem and thus act faster as well as more targeted. After all, if the hamster has an intestinal obstruction or is seriously constipated by fabric fibers or fur hairs, a different course of action is required than if it has been poisoned by leafy plants or unsuitable food.
What to do if the hamster has eaten something wrong or poisonous?
There is nothing you can do yourself but consult a veterinarian. Continue to offer the animal water to dilute any ingested toxins and soften any blockages.
Ideally, you should call the veterinarian or a nearby animal hospital ahead of time, as this is an emergency and can save valuable time.
In addition, this call will let you know if any needed antidotes are available or if you need to be referred to another veterinarian.
As always, prevention is better than cure.
If you want to prevent poisoning, constipation or intestinal blockage from happening in the first place, the following tips will help.
No fabric in the cage
Sleeping dens, hammocks and other furnishings made of fabric seem like a good choice for the hamster home at first. They are cozy, soft, can be washed and have a warming effect.
However, they pose a significant danger to your hamster.
As a rodent, he will gnaw them sooner rather than later and can ingest fibers in the process. These fibers can loop together and become a blockage in the stomach or intestines.
Since the food mush can then no longer be transported through the digestive tract and excreted, it ferments excessively. The result is a distended abdomen, significant pain and death of the affected area. This poses an acute danger to life.
Support coat care
Similar to cloth fibers, fur hairs can also create an obstruction or blockage.
Primarily affected are long-haired hamsters undergoing a coat change or experiencing hair loss. Regular brushing is one way to assist in grooming and removing loose hairs.
In addition, you can offer a sand bath that removes fur hairs as well as dirt from “dry bathing”. Rough surfaces, such as pieces of bark, are also suitable. Your hamster can rub against these and achieve a result similar to combing or brushing.
The number of ingested hairs is noticeably reduced and the risk of intestinal obstruction decreases.
Place foliage plants out of reach
A pretty wooden hamster home surrounded by houseplants is decidedly decorative.
However, it also poses a danger.
Because falling leaves or drooping shoots can be taken by your hamster as an invitation to help himself to the fresh greenery.
With a large number of ornamental plants, this ends in poisoning.
Also, keep in mind that even if you are very careful, your hamster can escape from the cage. Therefore, poisonous houseplants should never be within the animal’s reach.
Only plants that are absolutely harmless to hamsters should be positioned in the immediate vicinity of the hamster’s home.
Select food appropriately
Inform yourself comprehensively about what your hamster may and may not eat.
This is not as easy as you might think.
For example, you can feed small pieces of apple, but the peel and seeds of the fruit are harmful.
The situation is similar with grapes.
Moreover, the food does not have to be toxic to cause nausea, upset stomach and indigestion. Even an excessive amount of iceberg lettuce can produce discomfort.
Keep toxins away
It does not always have to be feed or plants that can cause poisoning.
Sometimes residues from cleaning agents on the cage are enough to pose a danger to your hamster. If he licks the bars or floor pan, he can ingest residues.
Therefore, make sure that you only use products that are safe for pets.
Final note: Emptying the cheek pouches outside the nest may also indicate a problem other than nausea. For example, gumming may have occurred and the food cannot be completely removed. The hamster will then keep trying to scoop out the remains. A visit to the vet is also unavoidable in this case. Otherwise, inflammations and abscesses can form.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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