It’s funny, being a pet owner, in many ways is very much like being a parent and they sometimes can need TLC and care, that means a bit of extra work for us. The things we have to do for our pets, sometimes, are a little surprising but we do them, because we love them and want to make sure they are looked after.
This week, our beloved hamster, Nibbles has had a bit of a tummy upset. We think she has been hoarding the dried fruit that is part of her regular food diet and then eating too much of it at once. She has had some diarrhea and looked a bit sorry for herself earlier this week, Of course, because we sadly lost a hamster earlier this year to “wet tail” which our type of Syrian hamster can be prone to, we had a few worried moments, that we might lose Nibbles too. Diarrhea in hamsters can be very serious as they are only little and can get very dehydrated, and this can make them very ill, and often can be fatal.
I am pretty resourceful and determined though, and after a quick call to the vet and a brief look at a hamster owner website that I have found useful, before, we got down to “Operation Nurse Nibbles better”. It has had some not so glamorous moments. Her bottom has been rather dirty, and the vet advised me that it would need to be cleaned until she was well enough to groom herself, and to stop it getting sore. I can tell you that cleaning a hamster’s bottom is not as simple as it sounds. She is used to me handling her, but I roped in LSH to be my assistant, to hold her, while I gently wiped her clean, she didn’t like this much, and he got “nibbled”, when she decided she was not amused with what was going on. It’s a bit like dealing with a toddler with a nappy that needs changing…
I was also advised to give her a very plain, dry diet, so I have been strictly supervising her meals, with dry hamster cereal and a tiny bit of dry toast now and then, and I have had to clean out her nest and wipe down her cage, to try and keep her area as clean as possible.
I have been using my nursing skills too, to drop feed her re-hydration solution (apparently using pediatric re-hydration solution is a good way to help prevent dehydration in sick hamsters, I didn’t know this before) and I have been giving her very small amounts of this, every few hours, from a syringe, letting her slowly lick the solution (you have to be careful not to give it too fast, so they don’t choke)
She quite likes the re-hydration solution, she actually shouted at me, when I had finished giving her dose and didn’t give her more. Blackcurrant flavour apparently goes down well!
Fortunately, she quite likes the medicine, and has been happy to take it from me, and has also been drinking her regular water and whilst it hasn’t been very nice for her, and I am sure she hasn’t felt that well, she has been quite lively and not too lethargic, so we are hopeful she will recover. In fact, I got quite excited when I saw an almost normal looking poo in her cage and even sent LSH an SMS to tell him (he was very pleased too!) about it.
I am very fond of her, so don’t mind at all, the extra work, it has been to help her get better, although I never thought I would be drop feeding a hamster or trying to wipe it’s bum. I wonder if these are skills I can add to my cv…?
(oh and we will be watching how much dried fruit she gets from now on, and making sure she doesn’t hoard it and then stuff herself silly. Lesson learned, don’t worry!)