Hamsters and Fireworks

The fireworks season started over a week ago here, and with Bonfire Night on Saturday I expect the weekend to get even louder. Although dogs, horses and other animals can find fireworks terrifying, hamsters rarely are bothered by them.

My hamsters can be found going about their normal hamster business throughout even the loudest outdoor noises. The only time I’ve encountered stress in my hamsters from fireworks was when a sudden burst of loud and repeated bangs began while I was carrying them in from the car after a show last year. A couple of the younger hams became very skittish in their show pens (though the older hams still were unfazed). They settled quickly indoors and in their familiar cages.

It’s still worth taking some sensible precautions to minimise stress to your hamsters when fireworks are expected, particularly if you know there’s a display planned nearby.

  • Ensure your hamster has a good depth of substrate and plenty of safe cosy nesting material so they can burrow out of sight if they wish. Plain toilet paper is good for nests – avoid the fluffy beddings which can injure hamsters.
  • Hamsters may also appreciate a nest box so they have a secure place to hide away. I find cardboard boxes the best hamster houses.
  • Make sure windows and doors to the outside are shut in the room where the hamster lives to minimise noise (and to keep them warm – it’s getting chilly out there now)
  • If you have to travel with your hamster when fireworks are planned, try to travel during the day and avoid the evening. Ensure your hamster has plenty of substrate and nesting material in their carrier to burrow down into.
  • NEVER take your hamster to a fireworks display or bonfire event.

There is at least one ‘calming’ product available that is marketed as safe for small mammals. I personally have never used it with the hamsters  (I did try it for my dog, but he found it irritating to his nose). I wouldn’t use calming products/supplements/herbs/essential oils with hamsters as a preventative measure ‘just in case’, and would need a strong specific reason to use them. In my experience, persistent exhibition of stress behaviours which requires medication is not usual in hamsters. For example, in stress behaviours linked with housing or lack of enrichment the cause should be altered, not the symptoms medicated. In hamsters with neurological problems like obsessive twirling or flipping, other treatment approaches would be more appropriate. I would recommend vet advice if you think your hamster may need medication for stress/behaviour, firstly to establish that there is no medical cause and secondly for input on which products to use and how.

I wish you all a safe Bonfire Night and my thoughts go to those with animals who find fireworks a stressful time.

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