Losing your pet is heartbreaking, but it’s bound to happen. After all, hamsters don’t have a long life span (two to three years max).
As sad as the thought is, preparing for this moment is what every hamster owner should do. That’s why learning what to do with a dead hamster is the best idea.
Whatever the cause of death is, the best way to dispose of your dead pet hamster’s body is either by burial or cremation.
In this article, we tackle the issue of handling your dead hamster’s body.
Additionally, you learn more about the signs of sickness in hamsters and how to make sure your hamster has passed away, along with much other information. So, keep reading.
Dealing with a dead animal requires extreme caution. Thus, when the time to say goodbye to your beloved hamster comes, you should know what to do.
Generally, you have a couple of options. Take a look at them:
Burying your dead hamster is a safe disposal method. Plus, you get to visit the burial site whenever you like.
There are a few locations where you can bury your dead hamster, including:
The first idea that usually comes to mind in these situations is backyard burial. It’s ok to bury your pet hamster in the backyard of your house as long as you’re the property’s owner.
If you live in a rental house with a shared backyard, it’s better to take permission from the owner before burying your pet.
That said, make sure to bury your deceased pet more than three feet deep so that no other animals can dig the body out.
Some states even require the burying spot to be six feet deep. So, make sure to check the pet burial laws in your state.
Finally, you can plant a shrub or tree at the burial site as a way to remember your cherished pet.
If you don’t have a backyard, you can bury your deceased pet in a plant pot. This should be ok as long as the pot is large enough to bury your hamster deep inside the soil.
It’s always a good idea to wrap your hamster in a biodegradable cloth before doing so.
Having your pet hamster buried in a pet cemetery is a more official way to give it a final resting place.
However, the cost of doing that can run anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Additional options, such as adding a memorial headstone or requesting regular gravesite maintenance, can increase the cost significantly.
No, you can’t.
It’s not allowed to bury your dead pet in a public place. You may have to pay a fine if caught doing that.
Even if your pet hamster hasn’t died at the vet’s, you can choose to let the vet take care of it.
Most vet offices offer cremation services, and there are other pet crematoriums you can find around your area.
Basically, you have the option to choose either mass or private cremation. Of course, mass cremation costs less, but you don’t get to keep your deceased hamster’s ashes.
Some cremation service providers offer memorial gifts and keepsakes, like caskets, urns, and paw print jewelry.
Whether your pet hamster was sick or not, you need to put on a pair of waterproof or latex gloves. This helps keep your hands clean while handling the dead body.
Then, place your pet hamster’s dead body inside a sealable plastic bag or wrap it in a cloth.
If you don’t like the idea of burying your dead hamster inside a plastic bag, you can buy a hamster casket.
Small pet caskets are widely available in online shops, and there are biodegradable options made from wood or bamboo.
After taking care of the body, you should start cleaning your deceased hamster’s cage. Whether you’re going to sell, donate, or keep it for another hamster, this step is vital.
Start by throwing away the bedding or any straw inside the hamster’s cage.
Disinfect the whole cage inside and out using a strong disinfectant. Make sure to use plenty of hot water and soap to clean the cage, toys, and all the other accessories.
Leave everything to air dry completely before using them with another hamster, as cleaning chemicals can harm the new pet.
You may think that a hamster not moving or responding means it’s dead. However, this isn’t always the case because of the following two reasons.
Sometimes hamsters can play dead as an instinctual behavior, and it’s not something normal. Rather, it’s a result of stress or anxiety.
That’s why if you notice your hamster playing dead, you should figure out the reason and address it.
Hibernation is a state of deep sleep, but it’s not a thing hamsters do regularly.
Hamsters only fall into hibernation to survive extreme conditions, such as harsh weather, irregular food supply, or light deprivation.
It can be hard to tell if your hamster is hibernating or if it’s actually dead. If you notice your hamster is motionless, pick it up and try the following:
- Check for rigor mortis, which causes a dead body to become stiff due to chemical changes inside the muscles.
- Feel your hamster’s body warmth, as hibernating hamsters usually maintain a warm body temperature.
- Hold a mirror or a piece of glass in front of your hamster’s face and see if it mists, indicating a sign of breathing.
- Stroke your hamster and notice if its whiskers twitch.
Before their death, hamsters change their behavior and exhibit a few obvious signs. These signs usually mean that your pet hamster is nearing the end of its life.
Some of these signs include:
- Severe decrease in activity levels
- Loss of appetite
- Dull eyes
- Thinner fur
- Weight loss
- Breathing difficulties
The amount of time it takes a dead hamster’s body to smell depends on the surrounding temperature.
In their natural hot habitat, a hamster can start smelling in a matter of ten hours. Inside your house, on the other hand, it can take up to three days.
Hamster’s remains start biodegrading more quickly in the hot summer weather. So, if you’re unsure about what to do with the body, try preserving it until you make up your mind.
Putting your dead hamster in a cool place, such as the freezer, is a great idea to prevent the decomposition process as well as unpleasant odors.
To do this properly, wrap your deceased hamster, and place it inside a sealable plastic bag.
Remember to keep the bag away from food to avoid any kind of contamination.
Additionally, note that if you’re planning to have an autopsy on your pet, keeping it in the freezer isn’t the best thing to do. That’s because freezing can cause the cells to crystallize and rupture.
Whatever the circumstances are, losing a pet is hard to get over. Although, as a hamster owner, you know your time together is limited, living in the moment is a whole different story.
It’s important to know what to do with a dead hamster before the time comes. You should also decide whether you prefer to bury or cremate your hamster beforehand.
In all cases, the memory of your cute little furry friend will always remain inside your heart no matter how much time passes.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.