Saving Private Hamster Day 2
Interesting what happened yesterday. Here it goes...
My wife brought the hamster to the vet. But before seeing the vet, Michelle had started eating and eating and eating.....
When they saw the vet, Michelle was running on the wheel. The vet asked my wife what's wrong with the hamster? And my wife told her. The vet looked at my wife and said "Well it doesn't seem like she's inactive now!"
The vet took her and checked her and said that besides being slightly dehydrated, he couldn't find anything else wrong with her.
Anyway in the end he just gave a syringe of glucose water to feed her if she gets slow and inactive again.
When I went home the hamster was like normal. I noticed she is on an eating binge though.
Looks like all's well. We haven't had to feed her the syringe of glucose water.
We're gonna get her a bigger cage tonight.
Anyway here's my assessment of the whole episode.
Firstly the hamsters lived together at the shop in the same enclosure. The pet shop people told us they could stay in the same enclosure. They asked to see what type of enclosure we would be using and we brought it to them. They saw it and said it's ok. And they put the 2 hamsters into the enclosure for us. I have read on the net that Syrian hamsters are definitely solitary animals and should not be bred with another hamster of any breed. Winter whites and Campbells are supposedly more likely to live together. In fact the Campbell male does not need to be seperated after the female gives birth because he helps to raise the young!For the other breeds it's a definite no-no to have the male around because the female is more likely to eat the young.
So the fact that we mixed the two in the same cage was not solely our decision. In fact the pet shop people are still telling us that we can mix their bedding (smell) together after two weeks and try to put them together again. So apparently winter whites do live together.
But I'm probably not going to take that chance again.
Secondly, whatever I did for Michelle helped her. But I agree that from another point of view, what I did was not the best thing to do. But I would like to say a few things regarding my decision to do what I did.
When I read up on the treatment protocols for rehydration, I found them very practical and logical. I was also confident of giving the hamster a subcutaneous injection of fluid into the back of her neck. Perhaps people who regularly handle needles and syringes and give injection would appreciate what I'm saying. Little aspects like how deep the needle penetrates, feeling the give, withdrawing to check you are not in a vessel, the resistance felt when pushing the fluids in....these are skills and experiences not every layman would have. I did ask a few people about how they give the hamsters injections (these were pet owners who saw how the vet did it, as well as lab researchers who do give the injections to the hamsters they work with). They all said the same thing, pinch up the skin at the back of the neck and inject it subcutaneously.
While I was not confident of giving the fluids intraperitoneally, I was very confident of the skin on the back of her neck. As part of my biology classes and medical classes I have handled these rodents before. And one of the things I have done is dissecting a hamster. So I do know how their skin is.
I made a decision to do the subcutaneous injections after much thought. It was not a light decision. Much research was done before proceeding with it. I knew what I was doing and was confident. And looking at the contents I was injecting ie saline and dextrose I was certain these would not possibly be the cause of death to the hamster. The information on the amounts of fluids required was also available on the net.
I feel happy for Michelle that she is well again. In fact my wife now says that instead of the hamsters being the kids and hers, they have become my babies because I'm more anxious about them more than anyone else in the family. My wife and kids are actually amazed that just simple "salt and sugar water" injected could make such a marked improvement in less than a day.
But I do agree that on principle, the best person to treat a sick hamster is a vet. However between doing nothing and letting nature take its course and a medical doctor giving subcutaneous injections into the back of the hamster's neck, I think the latter would be preferred.
There are people out there who might have just left the hamster to die and say that spending money to see the vet is a waste of money. Well that's them. I think we should value life and if you are able to spare the money to save a life, please do so.