ba­sic in­stincts

Do fe­male ham­sters go through pe­ri­ods or heat cycles? I un­der­stand symp­toms may in­clude a pun­gent white dis­charge and ag­gres­sion. Is there any­thing I need to do dur­ing this pe­riod to soothe my hammy?

Pets (Singapore) - - Ask The Expert -

Afe­male ham­ster does go through heat cycles but she does not, how­ever, men­stru­ate or have any bloody dis­charge (un­like in fe­male hu­mans and dogs).

When she is on heat, she will be more re­cep­tive to male ham­sters to mate. The white dis­charge of­ten emits a strong odour to at­tract po­ten­tial mates. Your hammy is more sen­si­tive to the touch— es­pe­cially along her back and near her back­side area—be­cause the fe­male hor­mones in­duce such sen­si­tiv­ity for mat­ing to take place.

The rea­son she gets more ag­gres­sive is that there is a spike in oe­stro­gen within her body, mak­ing her more ter­ri­to­rial and pos­ses­sive. It is im­por­tant that you han­dle a fe­male ham­ster on heat slowly and gen­tly, and give her pri­vacy and hide­outs us­ing a ham­ster house, plenty of bed­ding and even shred­ded tis­sue to al­low her to build a nest should she choose to. En­sure she has ac­cess to plenty of fresh wa­ter, a healthy amount of fresh greens and that her ap­petite is good. Mon­i­tor your ham­ster’s urine; of­ten it will be more pun­gent due to the white vulva dis­charge dur­ing her heat cy­cle. Clean out the lit­ter, tis­sues or nest reg­u­larly to pre­vent bac­te­rial build-up in her sur­round­ings.

Heat cycles can oc­cur as fre­quently as ev­ery 60 to 80 days, and each heat du­ra­tion can last for three to seven days. Dur­ing this pe­riod, it is best to iso­late her from other ham­sters—es­pe­cially males if you are not in­tend­ing to breed them.

As men­tioned, ham­sters do not men­stru­ate. Hence, any blood stains or blood clots in­di­cate ab­nor­mal dis­charge and the pos­si­bil­ity of in­fec­tion. In some older ham­sters, they can be prone to womb thick­en­ing and can­cers. It is ad­vis­able to bring her for a vet­eri­nary ex­am­i­na­tion if there’s ab­nor­mal dis­charge from her pri­vate parts. A vet will per­form a full phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­ca­tions are given to pre­vent or cure any in­fec­tions. Should your vet­eri­nar­ian sus­pect womb swelling or can­cer, sur­gi­cal re­moval of the womb may be per­formed as the last re­sort of treat­ment.

Ex­pert: Dr Grace Heng Vet­eri­nary Sur­geon B. V (Syd­ney) Resident Vet­eri­nar­ian at The Joy­ous Vet

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