As with all animals, there are some common health problems that hamsters may suffer from. If you have any concerns, always go directly to your vet.
A hamster's diet should consist of dried food, nuts and seeds but they are also omnivores which means they can't resist the occasional juicy mealworm.
Get into the habit of examining your pet carefully every week. It’s a good idea to weigh him too. Make this a regular thing and you’ll bond better with your pets and you’ll hopefully catch any problems early – your hamster is asleep during the day, so health issues might not be so easy to spot.
General – check that your hamster’s behaviour is normal – active and playful in the evening. Gauge how they walk, looking for limping, or signs of pain. A sick pet may be quiet and withdrawn or irritable and may bite more frequently.
Mouth and nose – the nose should be clean and dry – sneezing and runny nose can be signs of respiratory disease. Check to ensure that your pet’s teeth haven’t grown too long. See whether they’re misaligned or chipped. Losing weight and loss of appetite could be a sign of dental problems.
Eyes – should be bright, and not runny, watery or sticky/crusty with a discharge – this could be a sign of an illness
Cheeks – check for lumps in the cheeks which may feel like an abscess. It could be an impacted cheek pouch. The lump may cause the eye to close. The pouch will need to be emptied and rinsed, which can only be done by a vet and treatment with veterinary medication may be required.
Fur – check for patches of hair loss, which could be the result of rubbing against the cage or fur chewing. This can be a sign of boredom or the result of abrasive bedding. Hair loss is can also linked to nutritional or hormonal problems. Check for signs of itching combined with any hair loss – this could be a sign of parasites or ringworm.
Nails – like their teeth, a hamster’s nails grow continuously. Playing with wooden toys and in their sand bath should keep them short, but check to make sure they’re not overgrown. If they are, your vet can clip them safely.
Hamsters are colour blind.
Male hamsters are called boars.
Wet Tail – this is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea, and is mostly seen in young Syrian hamsters. It is characterised by a stickiness of the bottom and tail area, and your pet may appear as though it has stomach ache, by hunching itself up. Your hamster will need to see a vet as soon as possible. Wet Tail is highly contagious so ensure you wash your hands and clean out the cage thoroughly.
Diarrhoea – Syrian hamsters are can be susceptible to diarrhoea, which can be caused by feeding too much green food, fruit or by stress. Try and make sure the bulk of the diet is a good quality complete food, such as Supahamster Hamster Harvest or Dwarf Hamster Harvest (add links).
Dental problems – as with all rodents, hamsters’ teeth grow continuously, and can become overgrown unless care is taken to keep them ground down. Provide gnaw blocks, gnaw sticks or safe wooden toys for your pet to chew on. Try Excel Gnaw Sticks (link), which are great for this.
Because of their small size, a hamster’s health can quickly deteriorate if he becomes poorly. Urgent treatment by a vet must be sought if your pet displays any signs of being unwell.
If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.Email us