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Diseases of hamsters

Hamsters are quite resilient but very small animals, so injuries or illnesses can quickly become serious and dangerous. If you notice any sign of illness, you should take your hamster to your vet. Signs of illness include loss of appetite, sluggishness, huddling in the corner of the cage, matted and matted fur, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, wheezing, wetness in the tail area and diarrhoea. Coat loss can be considered a symptom of skin diseases or parasites.

If your hamster is ill or injured, keep it warm and try to feed and water it (with a pipette if necessary) until you visit the vet.


These are foci of infection that can form from very minor injuries to the skin. Pus accumulates under the skin, sometimes forming a large lump (which can sometimes start to disappear on its own). Abscesses can form on the skin from scratches or abrasions and in the pouches of the armpit if sharp food particles scratch the skin’s mucus membranefault. If the hamster looks as if it has been holding food in its cheeks for a long time, there may be an abscess or trapped food. Abscesses should be treated with drying, washing and antibiotics.

Respiratory infections

Hamsters can get a respiratory infection which can develop into pneumonia. Signs of infection include sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Occasional sneezing does not mean anything, but look out for symptoms such as loss of appetite, low activity, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. A veterinary examination is then essential.

Hamster infection, so-called wet tail

This is a contagious disease and is usually contracted by weaned hamsters. The causative agent is unknown. Diseased hamsters can die quickly. The disease causes symptoms such as diarrhoea (causing wetness around the tail), lethargy, loss of appetite and rolled bones. However, no All hamsters get the disease if they have diarrhoea.


Diarrhoea is caused by a number of infections, together with dietary changes and antibiotic treatment. Overfeeding on vegetables and other fresh food is the most common cause of diarrhoea, but in this case hamsters usually do not lose their appetite and remain active. If your hamster has diarrhoea, it is important to give it plenty of fluids and to visit your vet. Once diarrhoea has started, do not give your hamster fresh food for a few days, and start giving it slowly once your pet is fully recovered.

Ocutaneous diseases

Hamsters can be plagued by various bites, which you will notice from biting. Occasionally, hamsters get trichophilia (a fungal skin disease), which requires treatment prescribed by a vet. Hamsters can also develop allergies and skin infections. Hair loss is seasonal and more common in older hamsters. If you notice that your pet’s skin is peeling, red or damaged, contacts to the vet.

Hamsters have olfactory glands on their sides, which can darken to indicate health problems. The darkening appears on both sides of the glands, but does not cause discomfort to the hamster. Cedar bedding can irritate the hamster’s skin and cause allergies and lung problems, so do not use this type of bedding.

winter sleep

If the room temperature is below normal, hamsters fall into a hibernation-like state, during which they become quiet and breathe very slowly. Most hamster keepers then become frightened and think that the hamster is already dead or about to die. However, it is actually too cold and needs to be warmed up to room temperature.


This is the same organism that can infect humans, so be careful. Hamsters get it from eating food contaminated with Salmonella. It is therefore very important to wash the fruit and vegetables that you give to your hamster and to observe the following hygiene requirements: wash your hands after playing with cleaning the hamster’s cage, etc. Hamsters suffering from this disease can suddenly become very thin or suffer from chronic debilitating illness and weight loss.


This disease is very common in hamsters, although most of the symptoms may not appear. Owners usually see worms in the hamster’s faeces or anus. In severe cases, the hamster may lose a lot of weight. A visit to the vet will solve the problem.


Tumours are quite common among hamsters. Tumours can be malignant and benign. Malignant tumours develop rapidly and hamsters quickly become moribund. Benign tumours develop slowly and do not necessarily result in the death of the pet. In hamsters, tumours usually form in the thyroid and adrenal glands. The disease can be recognised by hair loss and behavioural changes. Skin tumours are also common in hamsters.

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