We all want our hamsters to be as healthy as possible so they can live a long and happy life. That means having a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise, but it also means maintaining a healthy weight.
And that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.
The topics that will be discussed below include how much a hamster should weigh, the average weight by breed because it does differ, how to weigh a hamster, and information on how to get your hamster to a healthy weight if they’re on the larger side.
For all hamster owners, it’s important to keep your furry friend happy and healthy and we’re going to cover everything you need to know in the following article.
So let’s jump into our first topic on the ideal weight of a hamster.
How Much Should a Hamster Weigh?
The ideal weight of a hamster varies by breed so the answer ultimately depends on what breed of you hamster you own. For some hamsters, a healthy weight is grossly overweight or underweight for another breed, so it all depends.
For most common hamster breeds, you should expect your hamster to weigh between 4 and 7 ounces.
However to get the most accurate answer, the first question you need to ask yourself is: what breed of hamster do you own?
Some of the larger breeds include the very common Syrian hamster, as well as the American and Hybrid hamsters. Those common hamster breeds should weigh between 5 and 8 ounces at a healthy weight.
The smaller breeds include the very tiny Roborovski, Campbell’s Dwarf, and Chinese hamsters. A healthy weight for those breeds is anywhere between 1 and 3 ounces. Almost half the size of the larger breeds.
As a result, the healthy weight of your hamster depends on their breed, but those are a few ranges you can expect for your furry friend.
But we don’t want to just guess, so let’s take a look at healthy weights for hamster by breed in the next section below.
Healthy Weight by Hamster Breed
As mentioned in the previous section, a healthy weight for your hamster ultimately depends on their breed, as well as a few other factors that we’ll get into below.
In the following table, you’ll find the average weight of a hamster by breed:
|5 – 7 ounces
|Russian Dwarf Hamster
|2 – 4 ounces
|2 – 3 ounces
|0.75 – 1 ounce
|Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster
|1 – 2 ounces
|Winter White Hamsters
|2 – 4 ounces
|6 – 8 ounces
|5 – 8 ounces
The table is sorted by the most common types of hamster, so at the top you have the Syrian hamster that should weigh between 5 and 7 ounces. If you don’t know your hamster’s breed, it’s most likely Syrian, but you should confirm with your veterinarian to get the most accurate answer.
Down near the bottom are the American and Hybrid hamsters, which are the largest breeds weighing between 5 and 8 ounces. However, they’re also not very common, which is why they’re at the bottom of the table.
Ultimately, a healthy weight for your hamster depends most strongly on their breed, so that table should come in handy.
But now that you know how much your hamster should weigh, how do you actually weigh your hamster to check? Let’s discuss that now.
How to Weigh a Hamster
It’s important to know how much your hamster should weigh, but that’s only half the battle. The other half is knowing how much they do weigh.
After all if your hamster should weigh between 5 and 7 ounces, but they weigh 9 ounces, they are overweight and you need to take steps to get them back down to a healthier range.
To weigh your hamster, you should do the following:
- Get a small scale: You need a scale that measures in ounces or grams. Your regular bathroom scale won’t work because all hamsters should weigh less than one pound, which is generally the lowest your regular scale will go.
- Find a container: Next you’ll want to find a small container that you can place your hamster inside. This can be any larger bowl in your kitchen or even the igloo from their cage and will prevent them from trying to escape while on the scale.
- Measure the container: You’ll want to measure the container by itself without your hamster. So if you chose a small bowl, note its weight down. Let’s say it weighs 10 ounces in this example.
- Place your hamster in the container and measure: Next place your hamster in the container and measure the combined weight of your hamster with the container. Let’s say the combined weight is 16 ounces in this example.
- Subtract the difference: Finally, you’ll subtract the weight of the container from the weight of the container and your hamster to figure out how much your hamster weighs. In this example, the combined weight of your hamster and the container weighs 16 ounces and the container by itself weighs 10 ounces. Therefore, 16 – 10 = 6 ounces, which is the weight of your hamster.
This is the easiest way to measure your hamster because you can keep your furry friend contained while they’re on the scale. If you were to just put them on the scale by themselves, they’ll try to run off and won’t stay still.
Now let’s go into more depth on why you should weigh your hamster.
Vide of How to Weigh a Hamster
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video from YouTube of how to weigh your hamster. It follows the same process as above and may be useful if the directions above weren’t clear enough.
Why Should I Weigh My Hamster
It’s important to weigh your hamster for a number of reasons. Keeping them at a healthy weight for their breed is important to having them live a long and healthy life.
Overweight or underweight hamsters will generally live shorter lives and more susceptible to sever health conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular complications. And hamsters with diabetes often live much shorter lives than hamsters without.
And because complex medical procedures aren’t often done for small animals, it’s important to keep them healthy from the start with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. If you neglect to regularly weigh your hamster, they may develop health complications that cannot be reversed.
As a result, being proactive is often the most best thing you can do to ensure your hamster is with you for a long time,
How to Know if Your Hamster is Overweight
Now that you know how much your hamster should weigh and how to measure their weigh, it should be fairly obvious at this point how to know if your hamster is overweight.
The most reliable way to know if your hamster is overweight is to weigh them regularly and compare their actual weight with a healthy range for their breed.
That is the most accurate way to know. While you can monitor their behavior or “eyeball” it, you may make mistakes or not notice certain behaviors. So it’s important to regularly weigh your hamster once or twice a month to make sure they are maintaining that healthy weight.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should also monitor their behavior between weigh-ins. You should absolutely do that because you may start to notice signs of a decline in health that can indicate other health complications.
Lethargy, lack of exercise, falling down, not eating or drinking are all signs of a problem that should be addressed ASAP. As mentioned earlier, being proactive is the best way to keep your hamster happy and healthy.
As a result, if you notice any of those worrying signs or other odd behaviors, you should take your hamster to the veterinarian right away to get a professional and hands-on diagnosis.
We’ve written on the topic in the past, but you can expect to pay between $25 and $300 for a trip to the vet depending on the issue, course of action, and whether you have pet insurance. However, most checkups will be on the smaller end of that range.
How to Get Your Hamster to Lose Weight
Now, what do you do if your hamster is overweight? You need to get them to a healthy weight and that is done in a few different ways, most notably their diet and exercise.
Those are the two biggest factors to a hamster’s weight and the best way to get them back down to a healthy range. Let’s talk about diet first.
We’ve written a lot on a hamster’s diet because it’s arguably one of the most important aspects of their life that you directly manager. Giving them too many treats or processed foods that are high in fat or sugar can lead to them obesity.
Having a well-balanced diet is extremely important to keep them at a healthy weight. And that diet should be a mix of specially designed hamster pellets and occasional fruits and vegetables to supplement the pellets.
A hamster’s digestive system is very delicate and directly linked to their immune system, so while you may want to give them lots of treats like marshmallows, think again because that can cause them digestive stress and lead to other health issues.
And aside from their diet, exercise is the most important aspect of keeping a hamster at a healthy weight. However, you can’t force a hamster to exercise. Most will do so on their own, but you can encourage them by giving them the right toys and items to burn off those extra calories.
Every hamster cage should have a wheel, which is a favorite of hamsters. You can also get them ladders, tubes and tunnels, as well as a hamster ball so they can roam around for 10 – 30 minutes each day.
Hamsters are naturally active animals, so they should be exercising on their own. But if you notice your hamster not exercising and they’re overweight, it may be time for a check up with the veterinarian to ensure there are no other underlying issues affecting your furry friend.
How Often To Feed Your Hamster
The final note here is most closely to their diet, but often asked by hamster owners: how often should you feed your hamster?
You should be feeding your hamster twice a day to maintain their well-balanced diet and keep them on a regular schedule.
Feeding them more than 2 times or only once a day may encourage them to eat too much or too little, ultimately affecting their diet, digestive system, and behavior.
What Affects a Hamsters Weight
We’ve covered a lot so far in this article, but there’s a few more points that should be made about your hamster and their weight, most notably what dictates their size.
Diet and exercise are the biggest factors to a hamster’s weight, but there are a few other and lesser-known factors that could affect your hamster’s size.
Breed is the number one factor of a hamster’s weight and more importantly, what their weight should be. We’ve covered different hamster breeds in depth at the top of this article and if you need a refresher, scroll back up to the table to learn more about the ideal weights of different hamster breeds.
Gender is a lesser-known factor of a hamster’s weight, but it does affect their overall size. Generally, male hamsters are larger than female hamsters. But that’s not always the case.
Just as men are generally larger than women, you can have women larger than men and vice versa. But generally, you can expect male hamsters to be on the larger end of a healthy weight range and female hamsters on the lower end.
Genetics are another factor of a hamster’s size, but there’s little you can do or discover to get more information here. Unfortunately, there’s no Ancestry.com for hamsters so discovering their genetics and lineage is near impossible.
But genetics do affect a hamster’s size, which is why we’ve noted it here.
Finally, a hamster’s litter size can also affect their size. Hamsters that come from larger litters are generally smaller, while hamsters that come from smaller litters are bigger.
This is because a mother hamster can’t support many large hamsters, but can support more smaller ones. But similar to genetics, it may be difficult to know the size of the litter that your hamster came from, but it’s important to know.
Do Larger Hamsters Need a Bigger Cage
Yes, larger hamsters need larger cages because they need more space as a result of their size. And smaller hamsters can live in smaller cages comfortably.
The size of your hamster cage should generally be proportional to the size of your hamster. In other words, if you have a larger hamster like a Syrian or American hamster, you should get a larger or taller cage with multiple levels.
For smaller hamsters like a Roborovski hamster, you can go with a smaller cage.
And the logic here should be fairly obvious. A larger hamster with a smaller cage will feel more cramped and claustrophobic whereas in that exact same space, a hamster half their size may feel perfectly comfortable.
As a result, it’s important to pick out the right size cage for your furry friend depending on their size.
If you’re interested in reading more about hamsters, their size, and other related and helpful information, check out the following articles below:
- Can a Hamster Die from Over Eating? – The Pet Property
- How to Tell if a Dwarf Hamster is Obese – WikiHow
- Hamster Care – UC Davis
And there you have it! There was a lot covered in this article, but hopefully it has been helpful to learn more about a hamster’s healthy weight.
Keeping your hamster in their ideal weight range is important for them to live a long and happy life. If they are underweight or overweight, they are more susceptible to serious health conditions or complications that can cut their life short, such as diabetes.
Maintaining a proper diet, encouraging exercise, and getting them the right size cage to reduce stress and anxiety will go a long way in keeping your furry friend with you for a long time.