Ask The Vet: Hamster's off-colour pee, painful bites from lovebird

Male hamster named Dumbledore (left) which has clear and yellowish-greenish urine and an adopted lovebird which bites. PHOTOS: ASHLEY ANG, ONG RUICI

SINGAPORE - In this fortnightly column, veterinarians from the National Parks Board answer questions about pet health and behaviour

Hamster's off-colour pee

My name is Ashley and I want to be a vet when I grow up. I have a male hamster named Dumbledore. I have noticed that his urine is clear and yellow-greenish in colour, instead of milky white as it should be, according to information on the Internet. I would like to know if this is normal or if it requires immediate medical attention.

Ashley Ang

I am glad to hear that you aspire to be a veterinarian and I wish you all the best in doing so. Hamsters' urine may vary in colour based on various factors, such as diet, hydration and the presence of medical conditions such as urinary tract infections.

Continue to monitor the appearance of your hamster's urine, as well as his general condition and behaviour, such as his appetite and activity level.

If your hamster appears unwell - for example, he exhibits lethargy or a diminished appetite, or hides from people - please consult your veterinarian.

Let the vet know your hamster's diet, including any treats. Do also show him or her any photos you have of the hamster's urine.

Love bites from lovebird

We have an adopted lovebird who bites us from time to time. He gives us sharp little nips which can be quite painful. Are these affectionate bites? Is he attempting to "groom" us or seek attention? He nips only some members of our family.

What kind of mentally stimulating activities can we create for him? Should we craft toys to liven up his day-to-day routine?

Ong Ruici

Lovebirds may bite for several reasons - for example, when they are fearful or nervous, when they are not used to being handled, or when they are bored or seeking attention. Discourage your lovebird from biting others. It may help to first observe him to determine and keep track of any triggers for biting, as well as watch for any warning signs before he bites.

It is also helpful to gradually train him to get used to the presence of people and being handled by them. Mental stimulation and play time may help reduce the biting. Toys, such as bells and ropes, can be placed around his cage and rotated regularly so he does not get bored.

Consider positioning his cage in an area of the home where he is able to interact with your family. Reducing this tendency to bite may take time, so be patient and gentle while training your bird, and keep interactions as pleasant as possible.

Answers by Dr Juline Chua, a veterinarian from the Animal Veterinary Service who is involved in animal health-related policy work. She loves all breeds of cats and dogs, especially Labradors.

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