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Do Hamsters Explode? (Setting the Myth Straight)

Do Hamsters Explode? (Setting the Myth Straight)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hamsters are fun-loving and easy to care for pets, and there are lots of myths about them.

For example, some people believe that hamsters are active by day and night, but this isn’t true as these animals are nocturnal.

Some people also believe that their teeth grow like ours. Again, this is another myth because hamsters’ teeth keep on growing, so they need to file their teeth down and chew on various objects to maintain their length.

So, do hamsters explode? Can overeating make your hamster explode?

If this is true, why does this happen? Keep on reading because we’ll answer all these questions in the following article.

Do Hamsters Explode?

Syrian Hamster With Mouth Open on White Background

You’ve probably heard this excuse at school when someone didn’t bring their homework on time. Although this might sound like a silly joke, hamsters can indeed explode.

Some people believe that hamsters explode because of overfeeding, but this isn’t true.

Hamsters will explode only when there’s a growing tumor in the body. When the tumor grows to be bigger than the hamster’s tiny and weak body, the animal can unfortunately explode.

The other reason is that if you accidentally operate the microwave while there’s a hamster inside, it will explode. It might also happen if your child is playing with the hamster and unknowingly puts it into the microwave.

However, hamsters don’t explode when they overeat.

It’s very common for a pet owner, especially a novice one, to overfeed their pet hamster because hamsters only need two tablespoons of pellets per day. Some smaller species will actually need only one tablespoon of hamster food per day.

How Do Hamsters Explode?

Two different reasons can lead to the explosion of your hamster.

Hamsters Can Explode Because of Tumors

Malignant tumors can continue to grow in the hamster’s body when left untreated. Because the hamster’s body is too small, the tumor can eventually make the hamster’s body explode.

Tumors are common in hamsters, but most of them are benign. In addition, these tumors are usually restricted to one spot and don’t spread to different parts of the body.

Because they’re localized tumors, they’re usually easier to treat.

Benign tumors usually grow in the lymph glands or adrenal gland. In most cases, these tumors grow in older hamsters, and the doctor will choose to remove them if they aren’t too big or can leave them untreated if the hamster is too weak.

Malignant tumors are different. Unfortunately, these tumors can grow to be massive.

The good news is that these tumors are quite rare. However, they can grow in the eyes, brain, intestines, and uterus.

Knowing that your hamster is suffering from a tumor is never good news. However, here are some signs that you can pay attention to.

  • Some tumors are visible on the hamster’s skin.
  • The hamster will suffer from overall weakness.
  • The animal will experience a loss of appetite.
  • Your hamster won’t play as it used to.
  • Diarrhea is common if your hamster is suffering from an internal tumor. You can also see blood in the hamster’s waste.
  • Hair loss and skin inflammation are common.
  • Poor vision and loss of balance will occur if the tumor affects the brain.

If your hamster is experiencing these symptoms, you need to see a vet to have your pet examined. Detecting the tumor at an early stage will increase the chances of having it treated.

The vet will choose to surgically remove the tumor to prevent it from spreading in most cases. However, if the tumor has spread to different parts of the body, there will be a small chance of having it treated, and the best the vet can do is to make sure that your pet doesn’t suffer from pain.

Hamsters Will Explode in the Microwave

Clean Empty Microwave on the Counter

There’s no way you should think that you can put a hamster or any living pet in the microwave even if it’s shivering, and this might sound like an easy way to warm it up.

Microwaves heat up the water molecules in the body fluids, so when you put a hamster in the microwave, you’ll be basically boiling its blood and other bodily fluids.

The water expands, and because the hamster’s body can’t expand, it will explode.

The hamster will probably die long before the body explodes because of the increase in temperature, but it’s still an extremely painful and unnecessary death.

If you let it roam freely, your hamster can also get into the microwave by mistake. This is why you need to hamster-proof your house if you let the hamster out of the cage.

Your kids might accidentally put your hamster in the microwave while they’re playing. For this reason, it’s essential to check the microwave before operating it and ensure that your hamster is safe in its enclosure.

Can Hamsters Explode Because They’re Too Hot?

We said that hamsters could die and explode when put in the microwave because of overheating.

But natural overheating when their temperature rises won’t kill them. Still, it’s dangerous and shouldn’t be neglected.

Hamsters can overheat for several reasons.

  • Hamsters overheat when you provide too much food. Hamsters are natural hoarders, so you won’t see the extra food if you’ve already provided too much.

Instead, the animal will keep on eating, and this can cause it to suffer from internal blockages.

  • Social stress can cause hamsters to overeat and eventually overheat. In addition, younger hamsters that are subject to stress can also overeat later in their lives.

There are several reasons why hamsters can feel stressed, whether due to the inappropriate cage size or the presence of another hamster that’s bullying them. Just like humans, hamsters can react to stress by overeating to relieve themselves.

  • Hamsters need to exercise to release their energy and work out their bodies. When this doesn’t happen, they tend to overheat and eventually become obese and suffer from a lot of issues that are directly related to obesity.
  • Bored hamsters that don’t receive enough attention and stimulation will overeat and overheat. Hamsters need to be kept busy, so you need to provide them with enough toys that would keep them occupied.

Can Hamsters Explode Because You’re Overfeeding Them?

Hamster Eating Out of a Purple Bowl Inside His Cage

Some hamster owners don’t know how much to feed them and eventually end up overfeeding them.

This happens because when the hamster finds food that it doesn’t necessarily need, it will still hoard it. As a pet owner, you’d think that you need to refill its food dish.

The best way to determine how much your hamster needs is to ask the vet. Most hamster species need about two tablespoons of hamster pellets per day, while some smaller species need only one tablespoon.

Providing more food won’t cause your hamster to explode but can lead to several problems.

  • The main side effect of overeating is weight gain. Obese hamsters are likely to suffer from joint problems that affect their movement, and the buildup of fat can affect the functions of several organs.
  • Eating too much can cause digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea. The hamster can also suffer from an internal blockage because it swallowed too much food.
  • Due to overeating and obesity, hamsters can suffer from circulatory and heart problems that affect the hamster’s life span.

Can Hamsters Explode on a Plane?

You’ve probably heard this before because hamsters are so fragile. However, this doesn’t mean that your pet will explode when you travel with it on the plane.

Of course, taking your hamster on a car trip will be better, but traveling by plane will kill it.

The pressure is adjusted on the plane, and hundreds of animals are shipped every day, so you shouldn’t worry about your hamster’s health when it’s traveling.

Nevertheless, you should check the temperature because hamsters are sensitive to cold and heat, and if the plane is too cold, your hamster will be in danger.

What Causes Death in Hamsters?

It’s unlikely that your hamster will explode, and this will only happen if it has a tumor that was left untreated for too long. Nevertheless, there are other reasons that might cause your hamster’s death.


Old Hamster Eating

Aging is the most common reason why hamsters die.

Hamsters are expected to live between two and three years, so if your hamster is almost three, you should expect it to pass away soon.

People can be surprised that their hamster has died after adopting it because they don’t know how old the animal really is. This is why you need to ask the previous owner or ask a vet to check your pet and determine its age after you adopt it.


Hamsters can die of illnesses that are left untreated. In most cases, people can’t tell that the hamster is sick, but there are several signs that show that your pet isn’t OK.

  • The hamster is too weak and doesn’t play much, even though it’s not old.
  • Your pet is experiencing a loss of appetite.
  • A younger hamster that sleeps for too long.
  • Increased or decreased drinking.
  • A change in bowel movements.
  • A change in breathing.
  • The coat doesn’t look as healthy as it used to.
  • The hamster is excessively grooming itself.
  • The animal is losing weight significantly.


A weakened immune system won’t kill your pet hamster but will make it more prone to infections and diseases.

Over time, these infections will affect the hamster’s delicate body and eventually kill it.

There are several reasons that can weaken your hamster’s immune system. The main one of them is stress.

When the hamster’s enclosure isn’t properly set up, it will suffer from chronic stress. It will also suffer from stress if the cage is too small or it’s occupied by another aggressive hamster.

Not providing the hamster with enough food will also lead to a weakened immune system.


Diarrhea or wet tail is a serious condition in hamsters and is usually caused by a bacterial infection. In most cases, a hamster can get infected through food or by interacting with another sick hamster.

Wet tail is usually hard to detect, but if you notice continuous wetness around the hamster’s genital region, this can be caused by diarrhea.

When left untreated, chronic diarrhea will lead to weight loss, overall lethargy and weakness, a change in appetite, and dehydration.

All these conditions will lead to the hamster’s death.


Hamster Sleeping in a Hole During the Day

Pneumonia and other lung infections are caused by bacteria that can be found in the hamster’s natural environment. However, a change in the environment can make the hamster’s body subject to a severe infection.

This can happen due to stress or a change in the temperature. You’ll notice that your hamster is dull, inactive, and constantly sneezing or coughing.

It’s recommended to take your pet to the vet if you notice these symptoms to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Hamsters tend to respond to treatment in mild cases of pneumonia. However, if the case is too severe, the animal will die.

Kidney Disease

This is a common cause of death, especially in older hamsters. It’s also more common in female hamsters than in males.

The doctors are still to find the main reason that causes kidney disease in hamsters. However, research suggests that a diet that is extremely high in proteins can be a risk factor.

Just like other health issues, a hamster will respond well to treatment if the condition is mild. This is why you need to take your pet to the vet if you notice that it’s weak or not eating well.

Final Thoughts

Hamsters can explode, but they don’t explode because of overeating.

A hamster might explode if it has a tumor growing inside its body. If the tumor isn’t removed or treated, the hamster’s small and delicate body might explode.

A benign tumor will be restricted to a single spot in the animal’s body, but malignant tumors usually spread and are more challenging to treat.

Hamsters might also explode if they’re accidentally put in a microwave that boils their bodily fluids.

Overeating and overheating won’t kill your hamster but can make it extremely sick.

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