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my Hamster has epilepsy? i need help! please reply.


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#1 michael.lockwood

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:28 AM

My female russian dwarf hamster Kiddo is about one years old. Recently she has begun having little seizure-like shakes. Once, i saw her all-out seize in her cage like with flailing and squeaking for about two seconds. the two other times i have seen it were when I was holding her and she'll just be walking along and then she flinches and seems to be in pain for just a second. the seizing seems pretty mild right now but she also runs in circles. She has run in circles for the better part of her life and I have taken her to the vet about it and they seem convinced that she does NOT have head tilting. I have resolved that maybe it could be a strange habit that she uses to expend energy in her relatively small cage. However, now that i see small convulsions im starting to wonder.

I need help dealing with my hamster's condition!

Also, if this is epilepsy i am wondering if a hamster can still live a full life with the condition.




#2 HoppingHammy

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:52 AM

Hello. :) I'm not sure about the seizures, but I have a roborovski with a neurological condition that also causes her to run in circles. I've never been able to figure out how to make it stop, but she's been able to lead a somewhat normal life.

I can only say try to keep all stress to a minimum (cage cleaning, changing things around, etc.) as excitement seems to worsen the condition. Also, a larger, one level cage might be recommended so she could have a safe place to spin, without worrying about falling off anything or trying to climb tubes. Keep lots of variety in her cage for toys to prevent boredom as well.

Sorry I can't help you with the seizure thing.

#3 michael.lockwood

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 04:43 AM

Hello. :) I'm not sure about the seizures, but I have a roborovski with a neurological condition that also causes her to run in circles. I've never been able to figure out how to make it stop, but she's been able to lead a somewhat normal life.

I can only say try to keep all stress to a minimum (cage cleaning, changing things around, etc.) as excitement seems to worsen the condition. Also, a larger, one level cage might be recommended so she could have a safe place to spin, without worrying about falling off anything or trying to climb tubes. Keep lots of variety in her cage for toys to prevent boredom as well.

Sorry I can't help you with the seizure thing.


i appreciate your input its good to know that other hamsters run in circles too. hopefully this is nothing more than a neurological condition like your hamster.

If anyone else has any accounts of this kind of behavior or tips as to how to treat Kiddo, IM ALL EARS!

#4 BlackCurtains

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:03 AM

I'm not an expert and have not had experience with any of my own hamsters doing it... but I have read reports and seen video of hamsters that suffer from different OCD-like neurological conditions like you describe. Some run in circles, some do backflips, some pace back and forth incessantly. It appears to be a product of too much inbreeding/bad breeding and usually affects mottled colored hamsters more often.

Hmm, I wish I could find the link to those videos I saw, but I can't seem to locate the site. I'm not sure what to say about the seizures, though.

#5 HoppingHammy

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:38 AM

^Is this the link you were looking for? http://www.roborovski.net/info_care_ill.html Meowmies sent it to me awhile ago, so we have her to thank. :)

michael, if you scroll down to the bottom, you can read a small section on spinning and see 2 vid. clips. Is your hamster a robo, by the way?

#6 rhapsody

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 08:53 AM

I also had a Russian dwarf with a similar condition. Since day one, she had a head tilt (slightly to the left) and had a habit of running counterclockwise especially when excited or stressed. She also had a ton of difficulty walking properly, even on a flat surface. It certainly looked like she was having epileptic fits since she'd roll on her back and flail every several steps, but it was actually an issue with her balance and her inability to coordinate her front and hind feet properly. She couldn't even groom herself without falling over. Here's a vid of her "fits", and another of her compulsive spinning.

Despite numerous visits to multiple vets, we never definitively figured out what exactly was wrong with her (ear infection, stroke, etc.), but I concluded that she was probably suffering from a congenital neurological condition. In any case, she still lived life to the fullest despite all her health problems. She was already an adult when I bought her, and she lived for another 13 months before she succumbed to pneumonia.

It sounds like Kiddo's spinning might be a congenital neurological condition, and unfortunately there is no cure. But as HoppingHammy said, you can sometimes lessen the spinning by keeping stress to a minimum. With my girl though, the slightest thing would set her off - treat time, play time, you name it.

However, the fits seem to be a different issue since you've only noticed it recently. Kiddo may have had a small stroke which would have compounded her neurological condition. I've also heard theories that the neurological wonkiness that causes spinning gets worse with time, and other weird symptoms start showing.

As long as Kiddo is able to eat and drink, and her ears remain perky, she is living her life the best she can.

#7 michael.lockwood

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:18 AM

No she's not a robo shes a russian dwarf. and its not spinning its litterally running in circles. sometimes she'll form a little track for herself. like she'll run through the door of her hutch out the window and back through the door in a little circle just incessantly. either that or she'll run in a tight circle in the middle of her cage.

hopefully im being a paranoid parent. maybe she's just really bored?

and as for the seizing, i havent noticed any lately so hopefully that was a passing phase. but im not gonna get my hopes up.

#8 BlackCurtains

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:10 AM

HoppingHammy - Wow, those videos are disturbing... poor creatures. They are not the ones I had seen before. The hamsters in the videos I had seen looked like the ones in Rhapsody's videos actually — black and white mottled/spotted were most of them. And it showed not that awful looking spinning but hamsters running in circles like the OP said. In wide circles, kind of like how they run horses for exercise. And other hamsters doing backflips off ledges, or pacing back and forth in a straight line.

Found the article! http://www.chahamsters.org/GenDefects.html Scroll to the bottom for behavioral issues, it talks about "lap running" Unfourtunatly, it looks like the primary site isn't there anymore, but I'm sure that's where the videos had been. I was looking for info on "eyeless/toothless whites" because my unexpected litter contained one. My clan has been plagued by bad health, and because of that article and others about mottled genetics, I know why. That page is from the California Hamster Association, which seems to be in disarray with pages missing all over.

#9 missPixy

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:56 PM

No she's not a robo shes a russian dwarf. and its not spinning its litterally running in circles. sometimes she'll form a little track for herself. like she'll run through the door of her hutch out the window and back through the door in a little circle just incessantly. either that or she'll run in a tight circle in the middle of her cage.

hopefully im being a paranoid parent. maybe she's just really bored?


first can you tell me when you observed the 2-minute seizure in her house,
was she possibly asleep and dreaming? i've had dwarfs who've enjoyed
very vivid dreams, squeaking and running in place as though they're in a
meadow.

as far as her "freezing" while you're holding her, that's not too uncommon
either. hamsters can hear and smell far beyond what we're capable of,
and it's possible either a sound or scent came by that she didn't recognize,
so she "froze" (which includes trembling and vibrating whiskers) to pinpoint
any possible danger.

for the last situation, what type of house is she in? it sounds like she has a
lot of energy. can you possibly extend her house so she has a nice long
straight run, even it's simply a very long tube attached to a small sandbox?
it might help her burn off some of that energy. i have a dwarf who loves
to make "figure 8s" in her house when she's really pumped, about 3/4 of
the way into the night (i only see her cause i have a bad habit of waking
up at least 1 or 2 times a night, and of course i stumble out for a drink of
water and to say hello to my plufkins.) this dwarf also lives in a crittertrail3
with 3 wheels, 2 sandboxes and a longish tube, plus her sisters. so she
has plenty to stimulate her.

#10 michael.lockwood

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 09:35 AM

first can you tell me when you observed the 2-minute seizure in her house,
was she possibly asleep and dreaming? i've had dwarfs who've enjoyed
very vivid dreams, squeaking and running in place as though they're in a
meadow.

as far as her "freezing" while you're holding her, that's not too uncommon
either. hamsters can hear and smell far beyond what we're capable of,
and it's possible either a sound or scent came by that she didn't recognize,
so she "froze" (which includes trembling and vibrating whiskers) to pinpoint
any possible danger.

for the last situation, what type of house is she in? it sounds like she has a
lot of energy. can you possibly extend her house so she has a nice long
straight run, even it's simply a very long tube attached to a small sandbox?
it might help her burn off some of that energy. i have a dwarf who loves
to make "figure 8s" in her house when she's really pumped, about 3/4 of
the way into the night (i only see her cause i have a bad habit of waking
up at least 1 or 2 times a night, and of course i stumble out for a drink of
water and to say hello to my plufkins.) this dwarf also lives in a crittertrail3
with 3 wheels, 2 sandboxes and a longish tube, plus her sisters. so she
has plenty to stimulate her.



No she wasn't sleeping she was actually getting some food and was hunched in her food bowl when she sort of did a flip and squeaked loudly for no apparent reason.

She is in a pretty bare bones cage. I am actually going to look into buying her something nicer or extending her cage somehow like you said. She is in a machioro cage with a little house hutch and a wheel.

So, is it possible that like your dwarf who does figure 8s mine simply makes circles?

The only inconsistency is that my dwarf CONSTANTLY runs in circles. She's perfectly able to move in a straight line and she will sometimes, but whenever shes in her ball she will just spin around and whenever she's in her cage she just runs in circles like i said.

#11 michael.lockwood

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 06:44 AM

Well, very sadly, my hamster died today. Thank you for all of your help everyone who replied.

#12 missPixy

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:56 AM

oh no, that's so sad! i'm so sorry to hear this~~ and she really looked
so healthy in those photos you posted of her. her fur was so full, and
her eyes looked clear. she must've had some genetic issue with her
nervous system... she may even have had a stroke. although i've had
dwarfs who died suddenly from strokes, and they didn't exhibit the
circling behavior, nor the flipping.

i did have one who was blind and very manic, with genetic neurological
issues, but she lived with them for 2 years.

unfortunately, the veterinary industry hasn't perfected many treatments
for hamsters who have more complex illnesses~~ mainly because many
medications don't agree with hamsters, and they're so small that many
surgeries can't be performed.

#13 souffle

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:16 PM

Sorry to hear of your loss.
Play well at the bridge little one.

#14 HoppingHammy

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:20 PM

I am so very sorry for your loss. :'( :hug:

#15 michael.lockwood

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 02:58 PM

im just glad that whatever pain she may have had is gone now. also, i gave her a nice burial and have come to terms with her passing.

i do plan to get a new little companion soon and i can only hope that it will be just a fraction as loyal as kiddo