11 Common Reasons Why Your Hamster is Not Moving

Reasons why your hamster is inactive

Hamsters are very active animals who enjoy running. That is why many hamster owners keep them in large cages or get running wheels for them.

Unfortunately, hamsters also have some bad days. On such days, you will find the playful pet inactive, suggesting all is not well.

While it is obvious that with age the hamster will be less active, there are other reasons why your pet rodent is not moving.

In this article, we will discuss some of the common reasons why your hamster is not moving and what you should do to revive it.

Reasons why your hamster is not moving

The common reasons why your hamster is not moving include aging, hibernation, anxiety, illness, heatstroke or your hamster could be dead.

a). Aging

Old age is one of the common reasons why your hamster is not moving as much as it used to. Hamsters in captivity can live for an average of 3-4 years which most pet lovers deem as a short period of time. We may therefore not realize when the hamster is getting old and not as energetic as it was a few months ago.

Apart from decreased energy levels, old hamsters suffer from eyesight problems, low appetite, dental problems, and loss of hair.

b). Stress

Hamsters are easily affected by stress due to their natural prey instincts. Small changes such as the transfer to a new cage or weather changes can cause stress in hamsters.

When a hamster is stressed, it will become aggressive, lack appetite, and will show withdrawal signs. You will find the pet rodent hiding in a corner and remain inactive for long periods of time.

c). Anxiety

Just like a hamster suffering from stress, anxiety is one of the reasons why your hamster is not moving. When a hamster has anxiety, it will show signs of being uncomfortable and fearful. It will therefore withdraw to one corner of the cage and remain inactive.

Anxiety is generally brought about by fear of uncertainty. Anything that disrupts the hamster’s normal schedule may therefore cause anxiety in hamsters. This may include changing the entire bedding and introducing it to new pets or strangers.

d). Boredom

Just like a stressed hamster, a bored pet rodent will exhibit withdrawal and little energy. The hamster will therefore remain in a certain position and remain inactive for long hours.

Caged hamsters are at a higher risk of getting bored, unlike their counterparts in the wild. In the wild, rodents can pump their adrenaline by running or escaping narrow deaths keeping them excited. On the other hand, hamsters in a cage are in a limited space that is set up like captivity. Unless there are plenty of toys to play with, the hamster will get bored and remain motionless for a long period.

e). Sleeping

Sleeping could be another reason why your hamster is not moving yet it surprises many new pet owners when it happens.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals; this means that they are very active at night and sleep during the day. Obviously, a sleeping hamster will not show any movement apart from the chest and abdomen when breathing. 

Sleeping is very essential for hamsters and when you should let them rest adequately so that they can remain energized.

f). Hibernation

Hibernation in hamsters is a natural survival mechanism that is designed to conserve energy. When a hamster is hibernating, it tends to be less active therefore saving energy that can be used to conduct other body functions.

The most common reason why hamsters hibernate is because of a lack of food and water. However, other factors such as exposure to extremely cold environments and staying in the dark can also trigger hibernation.

When hamsters are hibernating, they remain motionless to the extent that you might think they are dead. This makes it one of the common reasons why your hamster is not moving.

g). Cold

Cold is one of the triggers for hibernation. When the habitat gets cold to levels below 20°, the hamster may activate its “energy saving mode.” To save energy in cold temperatures, the hamster may result in less movement.

To reduce the chances of cold temperatures affecting your hamster’s movements, you should keep the cage warm or place it away from windows. You should also make sure your hamster has access to protein-rich food.

h). Physical injury

Physical injury is one of the common reasons why your hamster is not moving. When movement causes your pet more pain, then it chooses not to move at all.

Physical injuries in hamsters are not limited to any parts that have bones. They are however more common in their legs. You will therefore notice your hamster limping or dragging the leg which is injured whenever it tries to move.

Since hamsters are tiny animals there is little that you can do when they are injured. The best you can do is to leave them to heal their own fractures. If the hamster has an open wound, you can clean and disinfect it to avoid the build-up of bacteria.  

i). Illness

When your hamster stays for long without movement, then it could be a sign of illness. There is no way a happy and healthy hamster will remain inactive when it is not sleeping. Therefore, when the hamster is reluctant to move, there is a possibility of an underlying condition. 

If accompanied by other symptoms of illnesses, you should immediately contact your vet for further diagnosis and medication.

j). Heat stress

Overheating makes the hamster appear lifeless making it among the reasons why your hamster is not moving. This condition is sometimes referred to as the sleeper disease and it can be fatal if no action is taken immediately.

Heatstroke affects the hamster when temperatures rise above 35 degrees. The hamster will start showing signs of lethargy, increased water consumption, and lying in an open area.

When a hamster is under heat stress, you can lower its temperatures by making more fresh water available, feeding your hamster fresh juicy fruits, and keeping your hamster in an open-air environment.

k). Death

The worst reason why your hamster is not moving could be that it passed away. A dead hamster will not move at all even when you provoke it.

Another way to tell if your hamster is dead is when you don’t see any signs of breathing, its body becomes cold, and no heartbeat.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do once your beloved pet dies. The most you can do is to organize a small burial in memory of the time you spent together.


Why is my hamster suddenly not moving?

When a hamster is suddenly inactive, it could be in a deep state of torpor. In this state, the hamster will curl into a ball in order to keep itself warm. The hamster will neither respond to touch nor sound. 

How do you treat a not moving hamster?

This all depends on what caused the hamster not to move in the first place. However, providing sufficient food and playing items can solve 90% of the problems.

Why is my hamster sitting still?

A hamster will sit still when it is terrified. Hamsters are prey animals and are therefore vulnerable. Any sign of attack will drive the pet rodent into shock and it will therefore freeze.