How to Euthanize a Hamster With Carbon Dioxide: 4 Simple Steps

Euthanizing a hamster is never an easy decision, but it may be the most compassionate choice in some cases. You might consider euthanasia as a humane way to end your hamster’s suffering due to sickness or old age. This is where knowing how to euthanize a hamster with carbon dioxide comes in handy.

Euthanizing a hamster with carbon dioxide is relatively fast and easy. You’ll first need to create a gas chamber using a shoebox, hamster’s travel case, or other materials. Next is exposing the pet to highly concentrated carbon dioxide generated from mixing vinegar and baking soda.

Keep reading to learn how to euthanize a hamster with carbon dioxide. We will also analyze whether this is a humane method of euthanasia and some of the better alternatives to consider.

Is Euthanizing a Hamster With Carbon Dioxide a Humane Method? 

Euthanizing a hamster with carbon dioxide is generally considered acceptable and humane. Small rodents like hamsters die in just minutes when exposed to a CO₂ flow rate of 30% to 70% per minute. The process is also convenient because you don’t need to move the pet to a new environment.

A carbon dioxide overdose can cause rapid unconsciousness and death in just minutes. CO₂ has been used as a euthanasia agent for years to put laboratory rodents to rest. 

However, it’s imperative to be careful during the procedure because new evidence implies that carbon dioxide exposure causes more than brief pain and distress to animals.

Procedures that cause pain and distress to humans are internationally perceived to do the same to animals. Since it’s unclear whether a CO₂ overdose can cause an equally distressing experience to small animals, it is better to consider other euthanasia methods whenever possible.

There is also a risk of your hamster going into deep narcosis and superficially appearing dead. If your pet wakes up after disposing of its body, it’ll have to endure horrific final moments. 

That said, having a qualified vet by your side can help ensure effective euthanasia. The expert will confirm the death or provide a secondary method of euthanasia just to be safe.

Find Out: Why Do Hamsters Die So Easily? Here’s Why and What to Do


Although choosing to euthanize your pet is a personal decision, you don’t have to go through it alone. A better alternative to DIY CO₂ euthanasia is to consult your vet. 

Veterinarians first administer a tranquillizer to relax the pet and make it unconscious. After this, they can use strong euthanasia drugs like pentobarbital to provide a fast, painless, and relatively stress-free death.  

The remedies they use starts by stopping brain functions to ensure your furball doesn’t feel a thing, then cause death by respiratory arrest.

When to Euthanize a Hamster

How to euthanize a hamster with carbon dioxide

As an animal lover, wrapping your mind around the fact that it’s time to end your hamster’s life can be challenging. However, euthanizing your pet may mean saving it from unneeded pain. 

If you’re having trouble deciding whether to euthanize your hamster, here are five pointers to help you make an informed choice:

1. Your Pet Seems Gloomy 

A hamster dying of old age, disease, or injury will likely seem gloomy. You’ll also notice significant changes in activity levels, sleeping patterns, and daily routines.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals. They sleep and rest during the day and are more active at night. During the end-of-life phase, your pet will feel exhausted throughout and may remain huddled in a corner with little to no movement.

Inactivity doesn’t always mean a hamster is dying. If your pet seems disinterested in its usual routines and the activities it loves, you must first consult your vet. Sometimes, a quick checkup and medication can return your hamster to its lively self.

2. Your Hamster Lacks Appetite

Hamsters are omnivores with a healthy appetite for hay. They can also consume the following:

  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Meat
  • Seeds
  • Fruits 

Therefore, you have reason to raise an eyebrow if your furball is not eating or drinking, irrespective of what you serve.

A dying hamster will have no appetite even for its favorite snack. It may eat very little or go on a complete hunger strike. If it also refuses to drink and becomes hydrated, this is a red flag that it’s suffering and will likely not survive for too long.

3. Your Hamster Has Wet Tail 

Hamsters are meticulous self-groomers. They don’t need much grooming from their owners because they’re skilled at keeping their coats in tip-top shape. 

Unfortunately, an illness or old age can make your pet too stressed or lethargic to self-groom.

Wet tail or Proliferative Ileitis can signify that your hamster is flipping the final chapters of its life. Stress is usually the main culprit of the disease, and even with treatment, most hamsters don’t make it. 

It is also worth noting that the disease is highly contagious, making it crucial to separate the sick hamster from the rest.

4. Changes in Physical Appearance

Euthanizing a hamster

The signs we’ve discussed don’t necessarily mean your pet is on the brink of death. They could be symptoms of an illness treatable with proper veterinary care. 

However, you should know that something is seriously amiss if you also notice changes in your hamster’s appearance.

One of the most obvious signs indicating it’s time to euthanize your beloved pet is if you notice significant weight loss. Drastic weight loss often leads to a weaker immune system and vulnerability to more diseases. If your pet’s health is badly impacted, there will also be apparent changes in its skin condition and coat texture.

It is imperative to consult your vet if you notice a chain reaction involving changes in physical activity, routines, and appearance. 

You should also make peace with the fact that your pet may not bounce back to optimal health. If it has more bad days than good days, you may want to consider euthanasia.

5. Your Pet Is In Visible Pain or Suffering

A hamster experiencing pain will either become inactive, nervous, or aggressive. It will show displeasure in being handled even by its owner. Generally, the pet will prefer solitude and stick to one corner of its cage for days.

Unfortunately, it may be time to end your hamster’s suffering if you also notice unusual vital signs. Common signs of pain and suffering include heavy breathing, sneezing, and wheezing. They indicate that the pet is grasping for air, losing vitality, and barely hanging on to life.

As a loving pet parent, you will want to do everything possible to make your furry buddy more comfortable. If treatment doesn’t work and your pet’s symptoms only seem to pile up, the most humane option to consider is euthanasia.

How to Euthanize a Hamster With Carbon Dioxide

A carbon dioxide overdose is a common method used to euthanize small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. 

It’s always better to administer CO₂ under the instructions of a qualified vet to avoid nasty blunders that can subject your beloved hamster to undue pain and distress.

The Materials Needed

  • Vinegar (1 gallon)
  • Baking Soda (1 pound)
  • Shoe box or hamster’s travel case
  • Huge plastic bag
  • Huge plastic container
  • Plastic zip lock bag
  • Plastic hose (0.5-inch internal diameter)
  • Twist ties, rubber bands, or tape
  • Cage litter
  • Cloth or shredded paper

The Procedure

Step 1: Create the Euthanasia Chamber

Open your shoe box or hamster’s travel case and add cage litter to create a comfortable space. Place a cloth or shredded paper inside to make the nesting area as tiny as possible. This should also help limit your pet’s movements and encourage it to lie down more peacefully.

Step 2: Place Your Hamster into the Euthanasia Chamber

Fill the huge plastic container with 1 pound of baking soda. Place your pet into the shoe box/ hamster’s travel case before placing it at the center of the plastic container. Carefully place the huge container inside the plastic bag.

Step 3: Start the Euthanasia Procedure

Hamster Euthanasia Setup. Image Credit: WikiHow.

Grasp the ends of the plastic bag with one hand and squeeze the hose down the center. Use your other hand to slowly pour one to two liters of vinegar inside the huge container with baking soda. 

Once the mixture starts making a fizzing sound, remove the hose and hold the ends of the plastic bag tight to restrict air passage. Let carbon dioxide inflate the plastic bag to the max, then slowly allow part of it to dissipate. 

Squeeze the hose into the huge plastic container again and pour the remaining vinegar. Remove the hose and use twist ties, rubber bands, or tape to close the ends of the plastic bag.

Step 4: Verify Your Hamster Is No More

A carbon dioxide overdose should ideally kill a hamster in a few minutes. 

However, it’s advisable to leave the plastic bag tied for at least an hour before verifying the demise of your furry friend.

Once it’s time to confirm the death, open the plastic bag and allow the carbon dioxide to dispel.  Remove your hamster’s lifeless body from the shoe box/ travel case. Place it in the small plastic zip lock bag and dispose of it.

Saying Goodbye and Disposing of the Dead Hamster

Hamsters make wonderful furry companions for kids and adults. They’re cute, cuddly, and funny and can quickly grow into the hearts of their family members. Therefore, saying goodbye after all the fun moments you’ve shared can be challenging and emotional.

Death is an inevitable phase of the life cycle. The best you can do before euthanizing your beloved pet is to prepare to let it go peacefully, lovingly, and with dignity.

Here are a few suggestions on how to say goodbye.

  • Decide whether you want your vet to euthanize your pet from the office or home.
  • Seek emotional support from friends and family and find someone to be with you on D-day.
  • Make cremation or pet burial arrangements ahead of time.
  • Make the most of the time you have left to spend with your pet.
  • Focus on providing what your pet enjoys, like its favorite treats or toys.
  • If your hamster prefers to rest, provide a peaceful and warm environment.
  • Ensure each family member spends time with your hamster and says their final goodbyes.

After your hamster crosses over to the other side, you must dispose of its body. Most vets can help with disposal services or recommend the best local crematoriums. 

Expect to spend between $200 and $800, depending on whether you want an individual or group cremation.

Another option is to bury your hamster in a 1-2 feet deep hole in your backyard. Before you do so, check local regulations to ensure you don’t get into trouble. 

After saying your final goodbyes, it’s common to experience strong and profound feelings of grief. The grieving process is turbulent and unpredictable and often involves moments of intense sadness, anxiety, anger, and guilt trips thinking of things you would have done differently. Take as much time as necessary to process your emotions.

Can You Euthanize Hamsters With Tylenol? 

You can euthanize hamsters by offering a lethal dose of Tylenol. However, the drug is a slow killer that can put your beloved pet through tremendous pain for hours before death. A better alternative is to give a barbiturate like pentobarbital, which causes death in just a few minutes.

A Tylenol overdose can euthanize a hamster, although the process is painful and inhumane. The drug takes anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to work.

At first, your pet will go into a sedative state with no symptoms. The drug goes into full effect in 4-12 hours, depending on the dosage offered, and causes a high heart rate, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, and soreness on the face and paws. 

In at least 24 hours, Tylenol causes liver damage and death by impairing the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen.

There is no humane way to euthanize a hamster using over-the-counter drugs. However, if you must attempt the process in person, it’s better to use Benadryl or a barbiturate like pentobarbital. These controlled drugs don’t make it humane to euthanize a hamster from home but offer more humane, painless, and rapid euthanasia.

Final Thoughts

Before considering how to euthanize a hamster with carbon dioxide at home, beware that a myriad of things could go wrong during the process. 

If you can’t afford to regret how you handled your beloved pet’s final moments, it’s safer to rely on help from a vet.

Moreover, your grief is valid.

Arrange a memorial service, cry, lean on your friends and family, and flow with the waves of the grieving process. Once healed, you can consider adopting another hamster. Good luck!

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