How to tell if a hamster is dead or hibernating

Hamsters are small, furry creatures that can be great pets for families with children. Although they are generally easy to care for, it is important to be able to tell when a hamster is dead or hibernating. This blog post will teach you how to tell the difference between these two states and what you should do if you find that your hamster is in fact dead.

How to tell if a hamster is dead or hibernating

1. Check the hamster's cage for any signs of life

Look for breathing, movement, and sounds. Usually, if a hamster is dead it will be cold to touch and stiff. If there is no sign of the hamster in its cage, look under and behind things its habitat where it may have crawled to hide or died. Even if the hamster has died it will usually be cold and stiff.

Take my little sister's hamster for example... it was sleeping in the corner of its cage one day, perfectly normal. But when I checked on it 2 days later there was blood all over the place! It had died overnight - but you couldn't have told by looking at it!

2. Listen for signs of life

Poke the hamster very gently with a pencil or toothpick to see if you can get any response from it. It might be sleeping so poke it carefully so as not to wake it up! Make sure you know where its liver is before poking, just in case it wakes up and attacks you.

Don't poke it in the liver! That's really dangerous because hamsters can wake up quickly and attack, especially when poked in the liver!

Listen for any movement or breathing to see if there is still living inside.

You may need someone to hold the hamster while poking it with a pencil/toothpick.

3. Check for a pulse

Hamsters don't have a pulse in the traditional sense, since they are cold-blooded animals and don't need to maintain a high body temperature like we do. They will however have an arterial pulse because of the blood flowing through their bodies. This may be above or below where you think the hamster's heart is.

This one sounds tricky! 

Hold up its front leg just below where you think its heart is, or check on the other side of the stomach. Then place your index and middle finger over its artery in an upside-down V shape. If you can feel a pulse, it means there is still life in the hamster.

4. Notice if it is breathing

One thing that can help you tell if a hamster is alive or not is to check its breathing pattern. If it's asleep then it will be breathing very slowly and quietly, whereas if it's dead then there won't be any breath at all! As well as this, if it's dead then its stomach will not be moving up and down.

Breathing is really important to have in life! If the hamster's breathing is so light you can hardly tell, or there are long pauses in between breaths, it might be sleeping. But if there isn't any breath at all, or it's really shallow, there might be something wrong with it!

Simply check for any signs of breathing, which will only happen if the hamster is alive. If you see no sign of it then it's likely that the hamster has died.

5.  Check for a pulse

Hold up the hamster's front leg, just below where you think its heart is. Then place your index and middle fingers over the artery in an upside-down V shape. If you can feel a pulse, it means there is still life in the hamster.

6. Touch your finger to its nose

Dead hamsters usually have cold noses, whereas alive hamsters will have warm noses.

Hold your index finger up to the hamster's nose. If it feels cold then it has probably died! Leave the dead hamster in a safe place for at least 24 hours before deciding what to do with it. This isn't necessary but you might want to document its death and how it died or take a photograph of its dead body.

Noses are really important for sensing things around you! If the nose is cold then something might be wrong and if there is trouble with breathing (like when your brother poked it in the liver) then the nose will also feel cold. But if it's warm then the hamster might still be alive!

7. Look for any injuries

Some hamster deaths might not be natural or accidental, so check for any sign of injury on the animal's body that could have caused death. There is a good chance it will still be in the cage, but if there isn't make sure to ask an adult for help looking in places where it may lay hidden away.

If you notice something that looks like an injury or mark on the hamster, make sure to ask someone older with more experience for help. If you find out what happened it will be easier to understand what could have caused its death.

It's possible that there are some injuries if the hamster died in a fight with another animal or died in an accident (like when it got stuck and suffocated), but there's also a chance that there aren't any injuries at all. Look for anything that could show what happened to the hamster and how it died!

If you find out whether or not there were any injuries then it will be easier to understand what caused its death.


When an animal dies, there are many ways to tell if the animal is actually dead or not. But one sure way is to check for breathing because it will either be very shallow or non-existent. Also, look for a pulse to make sure that their heart has stopped before checking for any signs of injury. If you find anything suspicious then you can always get someone older to help you figure out what happened.

Animals living in the wild depend on each other for survival. Sometimes animals might get into a fight with another animal or get caught in a trap, which is why it's important to check for any signs of injury before deciding whether or not an animal has died. But if you do not notice anything that could show what happened, then the best way to check for any signs of life is to check if it's breathing and look for a pulse.

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