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Hamsters can suffer from strokes and these most often occur overnight when the hamster is active. The hamster may appear uncoordinated with semi-paralysis on one side of the body resulting in a head tilt and inability to walk straight. The hamster may also fall over repeatedly or be unable to sit up.
A hamster may become dehydrated when suffering from diarrhoea or when suffering from mild or severe heat stroke.
The hamster is weak and may breath heavily but slowly and the body may appear thinner. You can check to see if the hamster is dehydrated by pulling the skin away from the body. If the skin slowly falls back to the body rather than quickly returns to normal the hamster is dehydrated. Give the hamster some water with a tiny bit of sugar and salt in it (using a syringe without the needle to gently syringe some drops of the solution into the side of the mouth). If the dehydration is not due to diarrhoea the feeding of a vegetable high in water content (such as cucumber) will also help.
CAGE PARALYSIS: A disorder resulting from hamsters being confined in a cage that is too small and doesn't allow it sufficient exercise. The symptoms include the hamster appearing to be semi-crippled by dragging its back end around. There is, however, a very simple cure and an even simpler preventative measure a larger cage and more exercise. It is also thought that diets low in Vitamins D and E may be a contributing factor to this condition. Vitamin supplements may be beneficial.
I wonder, can you replace it without it going noticed? Just in case?