The following are some of the most common hamster health issues. A good rule of thumb is to trust your own observations. If your pet appears to be in pain, is having trouble breathing or walking, is bleeding, not waking up as usual, or behaving in any way different to normal, consult a small-mammal vet as soon as possible.
Hamster Cuts And Scrapes
As with humans, hamster cuts and scrapes come about through contact with sharp or rough objects. If you notice a small wound or scrape, try to figure out what caused it, and then remove the danger from the hamster’s environment, or make sure the animal doesn’t revisit the dangerous place.
For small cuts, wash gently with lukewarm water on a ball of cotton wool. Don’t use any medicated product intended for humans, such as plasters, bandages, antiseptics or creams. If the wound is deep or bleeding a lot, take the hamster to the vet.
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Some species of hamster have prominent testicles, but owners should be aware of the possibility of testicular tumours. If the hamster’s testicles don’t retract into its body when it is cool, or if they are very firm or obviously swollen, your pet may have a tumour.
Note: If the testicles are more visible than usual, it may simply be that the hamster is too hot. Put him back in the cage, and they should return to their normal prominence. If the testicle size or shape remain enlarged or odd, it could be indicative of a problem. Consult the vet at once.
If your hamster’s nails have grown long enough to develop a strong curve, one that is so strong that the nail is beginning to grow back towards the hamster’s foot, then you’ll probably need to trim your hamster’s nails. Human nail scissors or clippers can be used for this. Trimming will need to be performed by an adult. Probably the best technique is to only take off a tiny, tiny piece of nail at a time, as hamsters have blood vessels in their toes which are very painful if cut. Stop once the nail no longer curls.
Hamsters can be afflicted by a number of parasites. All of them are detrimental to your pet’s health. It’s a good idea to learn to recognize the symptoms of parasite so that you can act to eliminate them. Here are the chief culprits:Worms - Hamsters can contract different types of parasitic worms, nearly always through eating contaminated foods. They can go a long time without showing any obvious symptoms. The clues are weight loss and/or diarrhoea, tell-tale signs of an internal parasite. Mange - Sarcoptic mange is actually a type of mite, and a very unpleasant one indeed. It burrows beneath the hamster’s skin. Symptoms of sarcoptic mange include dry, scabby skin and lots of scratching. Your pet also may have thinning hair or bald patches. It’s a painful condition for your pet, so treating it quickly is essential. Treatment includes thoroughly cleaning the cage and purchasing Ivermectin drops from your veterinary surgery in order to help fight the mite.
If your hamster is urinating less frequently than usual, this could also be a serious problem. Gently feel your pet’s stomach. Is it hard and bloated? Then it might be a bladder stone, which causes a partial or complete blockage of the animal’s urinary system. Visit the vet asap, as the conditions can be extremely painful, and even fatal, if not treated swiftly.
Hamster Weight Changes
A hamster’s weight is indicative of its health. Rapid weight loss can indicate several conditions, including tooth issues, parasites, or respiratory infections. If you notice your pet’s weight is dropping, give it a thorough health check. Another common cause of weight loss is dehydration, so check both your hamster and its water bottle (see the "Hamster Dehydration" section further up on this page).
If your hamster is gaining weight, it could indicate unhealthy diet, tumors, pregnancy, or bladder stones. As with weight loss, give your pet a thorough health check.
Hamster Wet Tail
Wet tail is a potentially fatal condition, so it needs to be tackled very quickly. Wet tail is a very serious case of diarrhoea, so severe that death can occur within two or three days. The symptom are a wet tail area, possibly with fecal matter stuck there too. The hamster will have a strange posture too. This painful condition is caused by bacteria.
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If you suspect an outbreak of wet tail, put the following actions into operation:Separate the afflicted hamster from any other hamsters. The condition can spread rapidly, and bacteria can linger in an enclosure. Provide as much moisture as possible in order to help rehydrate your pet, in the form of water and wet foods such as lettuce.Get your pet to the vet asap. The vet may prescribe some antibiotics to fight the infection, and may be able to take emergency measures to help the hamster rehydrate.