Mystery of the Dead Hamsters

I didn’t want to blog about it when it happened because it was too disturbing an event to blog about.

But a month has passed since Picnic and Pixie died, and I’ve kind of accepted the situation already.

I guess it’s alright to talk about it now.

First of all, I don’t know why and how. One day I woke up and they were dead.

We buried them in the garden.

Later in the night, the Goonfather asked me, “DO YOU THINK THEY WERE MERELY HIBERNATING?”

I stared at him, bug-eyed, and declared unconvincingly, “NO.”

We rushed down to the garden to dig them back up.

We had wrapped them individually in white Ikea table napkins. We didn’t have fancy hamster coffins at our disposal.

So we dug the napkins back up and got into a sort of a argument.

“You open it.”

“No, you open it.”

“No, you open it.”

“No, YOU open it.”


It was late at night and dark in the garden. Only the dim, yellow glow of a torchlight illuminated the lumps of napkins laid out before us.

The napkins were unmoving. Damp. Flattened. Little stain dotting a corner that looked suspiciously like blood but could be mud.

We went through a few more cycles of the “You open it” argument. We rationalised the situation. We looked at each other helplessly. We stared at the napkins for minutes, willing them to move.

Finally, we said, “they’re dead,” and buried them back.

I don’t know why and how they died.

We googled it. We considered hibernation because their bodies were relatively soft when we found them. (Dead hamsters are supposed to be stiff.) But we don’t get winter in Singapore so it’s not that possible. Picnic and Pixie lived in our air-conditioned room where the temperature never goes below 18 degrees celcius. Hamsters go into hibernation (or, more accurately, a state resembling hibernation) only around 10 degrees celcius or lower. And dwarf hamsters aren’t known to hibernate.

The Goonfather said Picnic’s cage had smelled bad. Even though I washed it and changed the bedding less than a week before.

So, my babies are dead.

But that isn’t the entire reason why I haven’t published a Hamster Tale in ages.

I do have a few more stories archived in my mind, pictures archived in my hard disk. I just need to write the stories but I haven’t had time to tackle them.

But I will get to them eventually.

In the meantime, I’m deliberating whether to get more hamsters.

I have $300 worth of hamster housing and supplies sitting in a corner of my room.

I miss my naughty, tyrannical Picnic and my sweet, innocent, timid Pixie.

But I don’t want to kill another pair of hamsters. I don’t know how Picnic and Pixie died but they did die under my care.

Picnic died buried under wood shavings. I couldn’t find her at first and thought she’d escaped her cage.

Pixie died in her favourite tube connector, next to the door that’s supposed to open into Picnic’s cage.

I’m moving house next month so I can’t get new hamsters right now.

I guess I will think about it after the move.

61 thoughts on “Mystery of the Dead Hamsters

  1. Avatar

    So sorry for your loss… as a fellow hamster lover, I truly feel your pain.. I’ve lost one before, under the knife, so to speak. He was sick, I sent him in to the vet’s. They did warn me he had only a 30% chance of coming out alive, and I figured 30% is better than zero…

    Anyway, I hope you didn’t “bathe” them with water and shampoo when they were alive….

    If you did, then now you know the reason why – their fur coats have a thin layer of natural oils that keep diseases out. Shampooing them will destroy this layer…

  2. Avatar

    I understand perfectly how hard it is. Esp when you don’t even know what’s the cause. Were they in fine condition when they died? I had 2 hamsters b4 this. No more now since I cudnt bare with having to dela with another dead hamster pet. Both died because of old age. They lost a bit of their fur.

    Truly sorry to hear such a sad loss. I was pretty shock indeed since I’ve been reading your blog for quite sometime, even b4 u gt the hamsters. They seem fine and healthy to me all this while.

    Agree with FoxTwo as you cannot bathe hamsters with water and the so-called shampoo for hamsters in the market.

  3. Avatar

    Before you consider new hammies, I suggest you thoroughly clean everything with soap and water (except their water bottles. May wanna use salt water to disinfect) just in case they died from some unknown disease.

  4. Avatar

    Looks like they ate something wrong. No other reason for both of them to die together so sudden.

    If it were a disease / illness at least you would be alarm when they are sluggish / halfdead, especially robos.

  5. Avatar

    I was once the “parent” of 16 hamsters. There could be many reasons why they die.
    – are they eating normally few days b4 they die? if not, could be becasue their teeth are too long
    – from the 1st pic, u seems to be using the bedding for rabbits instead of hamsters?
    – dont use those bedding made from reclaimed wood pulp waste. use those grey pellets that looks a bit like paper waste ( cant remember wat’s the name for it)
    – are your hamster getting too fat? I love my hamster fat and chubby too. But the vet told me not to over feed my hamster as its bad for their health.

    lastly, i dont think they are hibernating. I have never seen any of my hamsters hibernating b4.

  6. Avatar

    Er, I disagree with the shampoo part. I used to bathe and shampoo my hamsters weekly, and both of them managed to die of old age.

    Given that both of your hamsters died on the same day and were young, it’s most likely they ate something wrong. It can’t be processed hamster food, but most likely human food. My guess would be the fresh veggies you fed them? You know, pesticides and all that in veggies today. May not be harmful for humans, but might be for the small hamsters.

  7. Avatar

    That’s really sad to loose pair of friends.

    But I have bad omen that something really bad is happening throughout the world as recently dreamed of many dead animals flashing across. Could this be a harbinger of some disasters ? I don’t know but I just has that bad feeling that something sinister and major is coming our way, but worry not, it is not Cloverfield’s monster or Godzilla neither is it the limping terror. Anyway, just wait and see.

  8. Avatar

    I feel your pain.
    After I had come home from school a few months ago, I found Spot dead on the ground and Stripe walking around sideways (if that’s possible). He couldn’t seem to think or stand correctly. He got over that (maybe just depression) but my baby Spot was gone, and he had barely been with me for a month! I still don’t know why he died.
    RIP Picnic and Pixie.

  9. Avatar

    Adding on: not to rain on your party if I am, but you know if they WERE hibernating and they just wake up they can burrow themselves out right? Then they can….live…on…earthworms and crickets?

  10. Avatar

    I’m sorry to hear about it, but (sadly) these things happen. My feeling about pets is that you just try to give them the best life that you can and then enjoy them while they’re with you.
    Don’t give up. Pets are a wonderful way of having some warmth and enjoyment in your life.

  11. Avatar

    RIP Picnic and Pixie.

    I was wondering why there isn’t any update on picnic and pixie but I thought that it’s because you are so busy recently. I’m very sorry to hear abt that…. *hug* *sayang* /smack myself for not being updated on your current affairs!

  12. Avatar

    I’m sorry to hear about Picnic & Pixie.

    My friend also had a pair of hamsters and one day she came back from school and one of the hamsters was dead. Turns out that her sister chewed her head off. x_x Awhile later, the sister hamster also mysteriously died.

    Apparently cannabilistic/homocidal hamsters aren’t uncommon and although they don’t always do things as drastic as bite each other’s heads off, they do kill each other in less subtle ways. And after the one hamster kills off its housemate, it feels depressed and dies of loneliness/guilt/regret (?)

    i hope that wasn’t the case with your hamsters :(

  13. Avatar

    I feel for your loss….
    The worst thing about having pets is when they leave us. =(

    BTW, need any help moving house?

  14. Avatar

    Well, I haven’t had a pet myself personally, so I don’t know how it feels if they die. A few weeks ago, I was actually wondering where those cutesy hamster tales of yours have gone to…

    Just take it easy… Everything dies eventually.

  15. Avatar

    Aaawww…..I was like wondering why there are no updates of your hamsters. *Hugs*…..thanks so much for sharing their tales :).

  16. Avatar

    oh.. why.. ??
    weeks ago two kitten was born healtyly.. tough one didnt survive after a few days.. :( and yesterday two kitten born premature and died.. :(

    is this some kind of tragic pets day.. ??

  17. Avatar

    Wood shavings aren’t deadly, at least Aspen aren’t. QY, what bedding are you using? Doesn’t look famliar.

    It kind of seems a coincidence, though, that they both died on the same day, so I’m guessing it was some kind of illness and not any materials.

  18. Avatar

    Mike M: Thank you.

    Erisha: Yeah, it’s really a mystery why they died. They seemed to be perfectly fine the day before. Oh well, even before I got them, I did prepare for the eventuality of their death, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon.

    Derrick: I’ve already washed all the cages and toys with soap and hot water. In fact, I washed everything about once a fortnight.

    Ashtar83: Thank you.

    Numby: If it was their diet, then it must be slow-acting, cos I’ve been feeding them the same food for 2 months.

    qwerty: Yeah, they were eating normally before they died. For the bedding, the one you see in the picture isn’t their bedding. It’s just hay which I toss in a corner of their cage to let them play with. I used Aspen bedding, which I have researched and is safe to use. Fat? Hmm, that I don’t know what’s fat and not fat in a hamster. Well, thanks, though. I’m glad to hear that hibernating is out of the question.

    nadnut: Thanks, dear.

    Kim: I never feed them human food. I only fed them Japanese cucumber one time, two months before their death. That’s all. The rest of the time, they eat hamster food from popular brands.

    binary_0011: Hmm, no idea.

    GeekyCoder: Well, I’ve read that dreams are usually not predictions of the future, and themes or objects in dreams often mean something else completely different from what they are on face value. I dunno. My take is that the world already suffers from enough bad as it is, throughout the ages.

    plushiehamsta: Thanks for sharing. Well, I know hamsters can burrow and stuff, but robos are so tiny and I perhaps the huge paper napkins we wrapped them in might have been too tight for them to bite through or burrow out of. I dunno, I guess I don’t really want to think that they were hibernating. Anyway, to answer your other question, I used Aspen bedding.

    Jesta: Yeah. I know. Like I said, I already knew they were going to be a short-lived thing. Maybe 1 or 2 years. 2 months, though, was a little shocking.

    modchip: Thanks.

    Wang Wang: Haha don’t smack yourself. Anyway, I didn’t really want to talk about it so if you’d asked, maybe I wouldn’t have told you either. :P

    Jenni: OMG that’s horrible. I don’t know if my hamsters were cannibalistic, but I couldn’t have found out because they lived separately, so they couldn’t have eaten each other up. Thank goodness.

    Minou: We might need help moving house. If you’re offering, I’ll gladly accept! ;)

    -=}{oT~dEv1L 666=-: Yeah, I’m fine, really. Thanks.

    Shire Li: Thank you, too. :)

    Aftiel: I don’t use cedar and pine. I only use Aspen, which is supposedly safe.

    zield: Er.. where are you seeing these dead kittens?

  19. Avatar

    I think you should bring in more hamsters for after all you already blew $300 bucks of hamster stuff.

    I think also inexperience on your part as they were your first attempt at keeping hamsters?

    You’ll get better the next time!

  20. Avatar

    JayWalk: This is actually my third attempt at keeping hamsters. I don’t know if it’s inexperience. I did read up a lot this time before getting my hamsters and I felt quite well-equipped to care for them.

  21. Avatar

    hmm.. my cat acctually..

    mio have two kittens.. wawa and cingcing..
    cingcing died from eating rice at her young age..

    few week latter loreng give birth to two kittens and theyre already dead when theyre born.. loreng became stressed and though that wawa is her child..

    after a few days loreng give birth to another two kittens.. one which already dead.. so one is survived..

    i dont know if its caused by stress or what.. but loreng never cared for her real kitten and always goes at wawa and biting her until it leaves a hole in her neck.. (yes.. a hole..)

    so i put wawa seperately and milking the abandoned kitten.. (still un-named..) but the poor kitten didnt survived the fifth day..

    so.. six kittens is borned and only one survived.. (if this crazy mama can stop biting her neck..)

  22. Avatar

    cingcing died from eating hard food at her young age.. constipated.. thus having high fever and died..

    i thought that lorengs kitten lacks her mothers milk..
    but i couldnt find any better reason for the other three kittens.. theyre already dead when theyre borned.. miscarriaged.. dunno..

  23. Avatar

    hey, I am so sorry to hear your loss. I didn’t know they had passed and I was wondering if there are any Hamster Tales updates, hence I came over and found out the sad news. Don’t blame yourself … you have been such a loving owner to them. Take care! Rest in peace, Pixel & Picnic.

  24. Avatar

    my hamster called killer had a mystery death because he was extremely healthy until he didnt come out of his bed for days and when we tried to get it out of its bed its eyes were closed and its ears were back so it was blind i presume, and today we were going to phone the vet about it but it was dead.i was crying all morning because we only had it for 3 weeks:(

  25. Avatar

    My hamster Sapphira just passed away..dunno why she died.A few days ago,she was blind in one eye and in the morning she was still okay despite her eye(but she stumbled a bit)..but when I came home at night, she was .Really ‘coz she was very stiff and a bit cold…

    Btw,to Pixie and Picnic,RIP

  26. Avatar

    i had a hamster named teddy. She died and i got a new hamster. teddy died of old age, no disease or sickness or anything done wrong by me. how old were pixie and picnic? my hamster was about 2 1/2 years old. that is regular for the species called ‘teddy bear hamsters’. my friend has a dwarf hamster, an evil, biting, screeching hamster. if you keep hamsters kept in an enclosed, small boring old fashioned cage, they will turn EVIL and not like anybody and will bite. (the kind that only is a small barred square with a food dish and a wheel and a water bottle, that is all) my cage is a 3 story barred cage decorated with barbie chairs, barbie desks filled with food, polly pocket playsets, a disco ball at the very top, hamster chew toys, polly pocket kitchen toys (stoves filled with hamster food,pots on the stove filled with hamster water, a fridge filled with food and chew toys), a cute little bed made of softchips woodchips, alot of fun stuff but no tubes.

  27. Avatar

    Aww, I’m sorry to hear about Teddy. It’s really sad when your pets die! :(

    Picnic and Pixie were only about 5 months old, that’s really sad.

    Your hamster cage sounds really happening! Have you got like a picture of it?

  28. Avatar

    Sorry to hear about what happened to your babies.. I know how it feels..

    I have 7 hamsters who died without any reason too. I really don’t know what have happened. I only had them for like a week only and they kept dying. OMG.

    I bought two new ones just to ease the pain.


  29. Avatar

    Thanks, Kazandra. I’m sorry to hear about your hamsters, too! They’re really fragile, aren’t they? I hope your two new babies grow up strong and healthy!

  30. Avatar

    That must have been weird im sooo sorry :[ I personally had 2 hamsters named whip and cream. They died and I dont know why. I Made A little box for each of them and buiried them right outside of this place where id take them to play…(it was a little grassy spot with cardboard surrounding it) and I found a rock and carved Whip and Cream then put it in the middle of where i buiried them :[…I got another and named him Sprinkles in memory of whip and cream (you know like whipped cream goes on icecream and so do sprinkles) so hes w/ me now… :'[ I miss Whip and Cream sooooooo much ( R.I.P Whip and Cream- 3/3/07-16/7/08) Whip was White w/a little lighter pink nose and A little spot of brown on his chest. Cream was Cream colored With a little dark pink nose. hum…well…bye

  31. Avatar

    erm..i found this on the net

    One of the most fascinating behavioural patterns of Hamsters is Hibernation. There are two phases to hibernation which are related to the environmental temperature :

    “Sleeper Disease” – occurs when the temperature drops to 22o – 25o C (75o – 80o F) . The Hamster appears lifeless, stiff, trembles when disturbed and nods it’s head from side to side.

    True hibernation occurs when the temperature falls below 5o C (40o F). The Hamster’s metabolic rate falls dramatically, resulting in very slow heart rate and slow breathing. Although Hamsters are mammals and usually maintain a constant body temperature during hibernation it drops to just 1o – 2o above the environmental temperature. They do not eat for weeks and appear to be “dead” !.

    An “apparently dead”, hibernating Hamster can be revived by placing it in a warm environment e.g. on a heater pad at 30o C (90o F) for 45 minutes. NOTE hibernating animals should never be warmed in cooking ovens or microwaves !!

  32. Avatar

    awww i have gone through three hamsters these past 2 years…
    i have russian dwarf hamsters… my first 2 hamsters were bon bon and hammie… bon bon died a year after i had him and hammie lived to be 2 1/2 years old wow… he used to clean my teeth by licking them… bon bon was mean… the night hammie was dying i was sick and went to go get him and he wouldnt move so i called my dad down the stairs and he said that he was dying… he spent his last 3 hours with me and he nussled in my hair and then his last 1 minute i cried.. he had died and he died with him in my hands… my next hamsters were daisy and butternut… daisy i had for only 3 months before my cat got to her.. i have butter now and i got a new hamster named dusty… he licks me like hammie did and he cleans under my fingernails =)

    RIP BONBON 12/20/06
    RIP HAMMIE 10/16/07
    RIP DAISY 1/13/08

  33. Avatar

    I know what your saying. I have a Hampster names Mr. Biggulsworth and I don’t know what I would do with out him. He is the only pet I’ve ever liked exsept for a golden retrever that some thing bad happend to. I don’t know what I would do if he died.

  34. Avatar

    My hampster just died last night,I am upset ,i dont know how he died or why?? this was my first time having a hampster. i am not getting anymore thats for sure! hurts to much when they die.:(

  35. Avatar

    i fill so sorry i am trying to see if my hamster is dead i love that story i makes me very sad to hear that when my cat died i was shock because i left him yestreday and he was find now he is dead if u like this story i have a meez and yahoo and gmail my mezz name is mattapan9 my yahoo is and my hit me up please if u like my story my hamster was a drawf and it died today at 1:11 pm at 6/21/09 :(

  36. Avatar

    O men we are on the same boat, this evening when I arrive at home my mom told me about what happened to my hamsters, unfortunately my four hamsters where found dead ( with stiff body) inside the cage and only the small one survive. I was very confuse right now from what was just happened . I took care of them very well, I fed them with sunflower seeds, I used water faucet for their drink, I used to play with them every night, I bathe them weekly but 1 thing that makes me think of why was this happened was because they where place outside of our house exposed to sunlight for I think hour or minute. Does hot environment causes them to be like this? how come the small one survive on the crime scene? . Does anyone knows why this happened, is there some sort of a disease which causes this? If you knew something , plz reply . thnx

  37. Avatar

    Hi Ace,

    Hamsters should be placed in a location away from drafts, and out of direct sunlight. I think that was the reason why your hamsters died because they were exposed directly to the sun and it was just miracle that the little squirt survived. Cheers! *Kaz

  38. Avatar

    i’m so sorry to hear about your hamsters :( my 3 year old hamster nugget died today. my mom went in to give her some yogurt drops and she was laying on her side gasping for air.. my mom said she was cold feeling and actually nipped at her when she picked her up (which was very unlike her, she never once bit me). My mom held and pet her as she died in her hand. I’m just happy i played with her last night and gave her a kiss She was so sweet and adorable. Great friendly hamster. I will miss her a lot. RIP picnic and pixie…. and RIP nugget i love you!

  39. Avatar

    So sorry for your loss. My hamster died shortly after I got it. He got wet tail (diarrhea, basically), which is 80% fatal to hamsters and easily spreadable. It may have been that. I’m so sorry.

  40. Avatar

    I have a hamster too. Her name was Hammy, i guess i fed her too much that she became fat. after she died, i was crying for about a month. then.. my parents bought me a new hamster, when i saw it. i couldn’t think of anything but Hammy. Her name’s Yuki. she looked EXACTLY like Hammy.

    RIP Hammy 27/3/09

  41. Avatar

    Did you give your hammies cotton wool cuz if you did they arent meant to have cotton wool cuz they would get really ill and die!!
    Or it might have been the bedding You should use hamster bedding like wood shavings!!

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