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hamster brain damage from chewing

Species: Other
Breed: short haired syrian
Age: 1-2 years
Hi, my 18 month old hamster started to bite her cage several months ago. i have given her many chewable wood toys, sticks and dog biscuits as sugested on the web to no avail, she is out of her cage for min 3 hours a day, and her cage is a VERY LARGE 5 level one, so this can't be the problem. please could you give me some advice on making her stop as ive heard cage biting can lead to brain damage.
thankyou for your valuable time,
Natalie.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Bar chewing is a common problem in hamsters. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things - offering wood toys, sticks and unflavored dog biscuits and giving her time out of her cage as well as enriching her current environment.

Here are some other things you can try:

-Buy a product called Bitter Apple to spray on the bars. This is a non toxic product that tastes awful to animals. You may need to spray the bars a couple of times per day but after a few days Fable should get the idea that it is not fun to chew the bars.

-Change her from a cage with bars to an aquarium type cage.

-Change the type of cage bars - i.e. if you have a cage with wire bars get one with either plastic or coated wire.

I'd like to address the issue of whether hamsters can get brain damage from chewing on the bars. This is highly unlikely. If you search for cage chewing in hamsters one of the first articles states that it is possible to get brain damage from the jarring caused by chewing. Then, it looks like everyone who wrote an article about hamsters chewing their cages has done a search, read this article and repeated the information. This is how internet rumors get started.

I did a thorough search for you in the veterinary literature and there is no evidence or even speculation amongst veterinarians that hamsters can damage their brains from chewing. The brain of any animal is well encased and protected.

It is, however, possible for a hamster to damage his or her teeth by chewing cage bars. So, for this reason, we should try to prevent this bad habit!

Dr. Marie

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.