euthanizing a hamster

I’ve heard of using the freezer method for reptiles, but not for mammals. Supposedly, since reptiles are cold-blooded, they just nod off and go to sleep. But I’ve also been told that this is inhumane because they’re still alive when the ice crystals begin to form in their cells, and when the cell walls rupture it causes a painful death, so I’ve never employed this technique.

I think Honey is on the right track. A few years ago we had a female hamster that we were convinced was the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. Mean little shit. Bit me so deep once that my finger bled for two hours. Escaped from her cage and built herself a bunker in the entryway broom closet. It took us six months to catch her. The little bastard survived by eating the drywall. Anyway, one day she started developing huge tumors. Some of them were almost the size of a golf ball, and had tumors growing on top of the tumors. My wife and I tried to off her by feeding her peanut butter laced with phenobarb. We fed her enough to kill a Great Dane, and she just lapped it up like cotton candy and looked at us for more. The vet wanted $45 to punch her ticket for us. We just stuck her back in her cage, which by then had been fortified with motion-sensing Laser beams and Concertina wire. She continued to thrive, eating like a horse and spinning away on her little wheel without a care in the world. A few days later we found her mortuus on the bottom of her cage. When we buried her in the backyard, nothing ever grew over that spot.

CO2 (carbon dioxide) should not be confused with CO (carbon monoxide). CO will knock an animal out quickly and painlessly, and allow them to suffocate after losing consciousness. CO2, on the other hand, is quite painful to inhale. The animal would still suffocate on it, but it would hurt. A lot.

The freezer method should work. The little guy will fall asleep and enter a hibernation-like state, then eventually die when he freezes. I won’t be specific here, but for a very small creature it’s easy crush them rapidly, death will be virtually instantaneous, but it’s not going to leave a good looking corpse. I assume the vet doesn’t have some simple method to euthanize a hamster and will give him a peaceful dignified demise resulting in the $120 charge.

It should be noted that there are many reports of sick, or seemingly dead hamsters being put in the freezer, and later the hamster is removed, and turns out to still be alive. It seems kind of doubtful if the hamster has actually frozen solid. They aren’t true hibernators, but perhaps it takes a while before they freeze through, maintaining just enough of their metabolism to keep from freezing solid for several days.

Anyway, it’s too bad about the little guy. My kids had several hamsters, each died peacefully in their sleep.

Correct CO is probably pretty humane - CO2 will cause discomfort, at least for vertebrates.

CO2 is used to asphyxiate male chicks in chicken hatcheries, but I believe the discomfort of the chicks is just ignored as a factor, presumably because CO2 is a safer thing for humans (in the sense that you’ll know if it’s leaking and you’re breathing it in)

Jeez, $120?? Our vet has charged $35 to euthanize a dog ever since I can remember. He sold his practice to a recent vet school grad when he retired, and she charged us the same amount twice in the past year.

For what it’s worth I found this:

You may want to ask whether this includes disposal. The biohazard disposal fee can be quite high and may be a significant contributor to this cost. If you are willing to bury the little guy at home, the euthanasia fee may be less.

I’ve done research with laboratory mice in the past. I wouldn’t recommend trying cervical dislocation. It can be hard to do correctly on mice and hamsters would be much harder. Chances are, you’ll just end up with seriously injured, suffering hamster. I prefer gassing them, but don’t be surprised if he struggles a bit before he passes out.

For any method you choose, be prepared for it to be traumatic for you. It’s hard, but it sounds like it’s the right thing to do.

According to the response I got from the vet, they first need to examine the animal by law. That is $60. Then the procedure itself is $60. I’d hesitate to use the vet for this at $60. $120 is out of the question. I don’t want him to suffer and I’d rather a professional do it, but at $120 I’ll find a humane way to do this at home.

A process that would leave a messy corpse is less than ideal because I’m almost certain my daughter is going to want to see him “after.”

I can’t vouch for the perfect efficiency and humaneness of this method, but it worked for me on a one lb. rodent (and was chosen after much weighing of alternatives.) Put the critter in a sturdy but flexible bag and whip the bag down on a hard surface. I used a canvas bag with a drawstring closure, and buried the bag/critter afterward.

This all seems like a lot of work, I think I’d just let the thing loose outside.

Examine it? Disposal fees (it’s a hamster, throw it away)?

Anyways, like I said, I think I’d just let it loose and let nature take it’s course, an owl or hawk will probably scoop it up within less time than this thread has been open. This also had the added benefit that no one has to see it ‘after’. It’s just gone. Unless, of course, a squirrel or cat or something grabs it before it clears the backyard.

Ugh, please don’t do this. I had a pretty upsetting experience with an asshole parent letting out an animal to die, then lying and saying, “he must have escaped!” :rolleyes:

But connecting it to the muffler and cooking it or bashing it’s head in with a hammer is so much better.

You can make it a family affair. All the kids can take turns with the hammer. If you just let it out then it is gone and you have no closure. :smiley:

The death of a pet is the first truly difficult life experience most children ever go through. It’s made far worse when their parents aren’t totally honest about the circumstances.

My girlfriend had English Fancy Mice which had a habit of getting into the wrong cage and impregnating each other and making dozens more. They also have a habit of developing huge tumors, so I have done just about every method of pet execution there is.

Some thoughts:

Drowning: Do not do this. Even with very cold water they struggle terribly and it will be horrible. Not at all recommended.

Poison: My research never found one that would not be a painful death, never tried. Basically what the vet will do, though he has access to better poisons.

Cervical Dislocation: Not easy to do. Just annoyed the mouse who wondered, “What the hell was that”, then went back to eating. Also possible to overdo to the point you decapitate it. Only recommended if you will be doing very many of them and can learn the right technique. This is what they do in labs.

Decapitation: Fast, quick. Of course the thing fountains blood like a Kill Bill villain and BOTH parts try to run around for the better part of a minute. Very disturbing. Not recommended.

Inert Gas Asphyxiation: Probably the most humane way possible. Of course you need to buy a tank of N2, which will run you around $80, so not a huge benefit if cost is a concern.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: You are probably thinking about using car exhaust. Modern cars do not have a high enough concentration to make this feasible. You are more likely to cook it.

Crushing: Hammer meet mouse. Did not do this. Research indicated that for those who do, the first strike usually does not do it, so imagine how bad shape they are in.

Electrocution: I actually did this one the most. Had a “Rat Zapper” rodent killer. Thing worked mostly. Once or twice it didn’t die on the first zap. Quite disturbing.

I would say either go to the vet or buy the N2 tank. The other methods are not worth the trauma.

A garden hose will melt if exposed to car exhaust. And as has been mentioned, the CO content of exhaust from a late-model vehicle (i.e. anything made in the past 15 years or so) may be too low to reliably kill.

How about a can of Dust-Off or similar? Place hamster in small tupperware bin with lid on, raise edge of lid just high enough to insert straw from Dust-Off can, and spray gas until hamster is rendered unconscious, then spray a few seconds more, then close lid for several minutes to assure death.

You just would not want to invert the can; this would spray liquid, which could inflict painful frostbite. Keep it upright so it sprays only gas.

Dust off sounds like the best one I have seeen here so far, small animals are easily killed by putting in a bag and slamming.

Personally, I’d go with an empty two liter plastic bottle, cut in half and taped back together with duct tape with the hamster inside, then go to the party store and get the smallest container of helium you can find. Fill the container, cap it, and put it in the freezer for good measure.

Tell your kids it’s a fur fish

Yes, we used to use ether in the lab for this purpose. Just make sure they are dead, not just under.