Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Is My Hamster Sick?

We all love our hamster and want to take care of them, but how do we know if there healthy? Our furry little friends cannot talk to us so they can't tell us if they don't feel well. Therefore it's out responsibility to be able to recognize when a hamster is sick! And know what to do!

Hamsters can fall victim to  may illnesses and injuries such as broken bones, colds, pneumonia, tumors, reproductive failure, mange, parasites, infections, abscesses, diseases, cancer, diabetes, wet tail, tooth problems, and more.
**NOTE: If you suspect your pet is ill or hurt you should contact a vet or proper small animal care giver. I am here to give advice and help but I cannot diagnose, give treatment, or cure an animal over the internet. While I will respond to any questions or comments you have as fast as I can, you should not only rely on me when it comes to the safety and well being of your pet.**

Signs Of A Sick Hamster and Illnesses:
Fur Loss
Hamsters should have soft fur that covers their entire body (with the exception of their feet and tail). While a hamster's coat will lose some of it's luster and thickness due to aging, it should not thin out very quickly or have patches of fur missing. Rapid fur loss is known as alopecia, and is a serious problem. Rapid fur loss can be due to mites, lice, mange, infections, abscesses, tumors, scratching, and adrenal disease. If fur does not grow back or continues to thin over the next few days contact a vet.
Loss of Appetite/Weight
Healthy hamsters will continuously munch on food and treats throughout the day. If you notice your hamster's food bowl is untouched and he/she ignores his/her favorite treats something may be wrong. Pay close attention though! Hamsters are hoarders and store food in their cheek pouches and habitat, so even though their food bowl is empty, doesn't mean they are eating. If you notice your hamster has lost weight he/she may have an infection, pneumonia, cancer, or another serious illness needing medical attention.
Wet Tail
Wet Tail is a serious health problem that many small animals are at risk for. Regularly check the fur around your hamster's tail. If it is matted or wet your furry friend probably has the common disease. Though ovulating hamsters often have a discharge around the tail it will be very temporary. Diarrhea is also a sign of wet tail. Hamsters who have had too many greens will probably have diarrhea. Reduce their greens intake. Wet Tail can kill within a week, so if you suspect your hamster of it, take them to a vet immediately
If your hamster has a runny nose, or is breathing irregularly, he/she probably has a cold. Keep her environment between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If his/her condition worsens or does not get better within a couple of days contact a vet. Human germs can transfer to animals so avoid your hamster if you are sick. Have someone else care for him/her.
Hamsters are fragile little creatures and broken bones are not uncommon. If he/she is limping, or not moving, they may have a fractured bone. Try not to move them. Remove the wheel, any tubes, and anything he/she can climb on or fall off. Place food and water close to the injured hamster and consult a vet immediately.
If you feel a lump on your hamster's body, he/she may have a tumor. there is not much you can do for this besides see a vet immediately.
Puffy Pouches
Though it sounds cute, puffy pouches isn't always something to "aww" over. Hamsters can unintentionally cut the insides of his/her pouches bu hoarding food and things in them. If your ham ham's pouches are constantly full, look overly stuffed, of you notice blood around the mouth he/she may have injured their pouches. A  vet should look over a hamster if you think they injured their pouches. If unattended an infection could occur.
Tooth Problems
If your hamster doesn't want to eat, drools, has a foul smell or blood coming from the mouth, or has visible loose, missing, or overgrown teeth they need to see a vet. Teeth problems are serious and can lead to death if unattended to.
If you don't see any droppings in your hamster's habitat then something is wrong. He/ she should be given plenty of water. Talk to a vet if no droppings are found after a couple days.
Consuming Too Much Water
If you notice your hamster is going though water like it's the best thing since sliced bread something could be wrong. Assuming the water bottle is not leaking and the room is not too hot your hamster may have fallen victim to an adrenal disease, tumor, infection, or other problem. Assuming it is not just dehydration, a vet should be contacted.
Suddenly Becomes Fat
If your hamster suddenly gains a lot of weight something could be wrong. (When I say suddenly I mean withing a day or two) An adrenal disease, tumor, diabetes, or other illness could be the culprit. 

Take Action
If your hamster appears sick or injured take action! Separate him/her from any other hamsters and contact a vet if their condition does not get better withing a couple days or worsens.

The Vet
Is the vet really necessary? I mean, this is a little animal I spent $15 on that's only going to live a few years anyways.The vet is too expensive. If it dies I can always buy another one. WRONG. If this is the way you feel, then you should not adopt a hamster. While it is true that vets are expensive, when you adopt a hamster (or any living creature for that matter) you are responsible for his/her life. If they become ill or injured it is your responsibility to properly care for them, and if a visit to the vet is what it takes, then a visit to the vet it should be. There is pet insurance and other ways to help pay for a vet's visit or any medication.

There are many ways to prevent your happy hammy from getting sick or injured. 
  • Clean their habitat at least once a week
  • Give fresh food and water daily
  • Avoid contact if you are sick; Have someone else care for them until you are well
  • Pay close attention to your hamster's eating, drinking and sleeping habits
  • Know your hamster's body; Know when something does not look or feel right
  • Do not choose a hamster if it appears sick, has sick litter mates, or has poor living conditions
  • Handle them gently; Teach kids to handle them gently
  • Provide a running wheel for exercxise
  • Do not use ceader, pine, or sawdust; Only aspen wood or paper products for bedding
  • Do not feed them old food, food that has been contaminated, or food with bugs
  • Do not provide anything unsafe such as sharp objects, high places to fall from, or things to get stuck in
  • Always have the number for a proper vet (Not all clinics see small animals so talk to your vet about your hamster)

Knowing when your hamster is ill can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure you know what a healthy hamster looks like and know when to consult a vet about your furry little fiend. I hope this helps!


  1. I love hamsters
    teefury , redbubble , threadless.

  2. A neighbor gave my kids a 🐹. When it walks the tail of him/her appears to be swollen (quarter size). Is this normal?