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    Hamster Diseases And Health Conditions

    White Mouse looks out of a carton hole.

    Just like humans and other rodents, hamsters can succumb to illness. Although they are known to be strong pets, owing to their small size, injuries and diseases can end up being extremely serious. In this post, we have aggregated the most common hamster health issues as well as recommended treatment to ensure effective hamster care.

    The Common Signs Of Hamster Illness

    Below are the most common ways to tell if your hamster has fallen ill or is injured:

    • Loss of appetite
    • Lethargy
    • An unkempt or ruffled coat
    • Sneezing and discharge from eyes or nose
    • Diarrhea and wetness around the tail
    • Hair loss and inactivity


    One of the most common hamster diseases is the formation of abscesses or pockets of infection in the skin. Usually, pus gathers under the skin, and at times, it can form a sizable lump and starts to drain on its own. Abscesses can form due to recent scratches or cuts on the hamster’s skin. It may also occur in the cheek pouches if food materials get stuck and scratch the inner lining of the hamster’s mouth.

    If you find a similar issue with your pet, you must take it to the vet as this condition needs immediate veterinary attention. Depending on the gravity of the problem, the vet may proceed with flushing or draining the pus as well as treating the infection with antibiotics.

    Respiratory Problems

    Hamsters may also develop respiratory infections and can lead to pneumonia if not treated on time.  Signs of respiratory illness include sneezing, eye or nose discharge, wheezing, and labored respiration.

    Drafts and unexpected changes in temperature may put your hamster at risk of developing a respiratory infection. Certain types of bedding, such as pine and cedar, can even irritate the respiratory tract and contribute to an infection.

    Although occasional sneezing is not much of a concern, if you notice a loss in appetite, increased lethargy, excessive wheezing, and periodic difficulties in breathing, it means that your pet hamster needs immediate veterinary attention. 

    Wet Tail

    This is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea in a hamster and can prove fatal. Stress in a new home during their first few days or weeks is one reason this disease is so common in young hamsters. Certain pressures, such as abrupt dietary changes, habitat overcrowding, severe temperatures, and unsanitary living conditions can also cause your hamster to develop a wet tail.

    The primary cause is uncertain, yet research says that a bacteria called the Campylobacter jejuni may be the reason. A hamster with a wet tail may die very quickly while exhibiting multiple signs like a rough coat, lethargy, and severe loss of appetite. It should be noted that not all hamsters with diarrhea will have a wet tail. However, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must take it to the vet immediately. 


    There are a number of problems that can cause diarrhea in a hamster, including wet tail, parasites in the intestinal region, dietary changes, and frequent treatment with antibiotics. Although overfeeding the pet with fruits and vegetables is another reason, there will not be a noticeable loss of appetite or lethargy in this case.

    If your hamster has diarrhea, dehydration will be a major concern so make sure they still drink their water regularly.  Avoid fresh foods for a few days and resume it only when diarrhea stops completely. If there is lethargy or lack of water consumption alongside diarrhea, you should look for immediate veterinary treatment.

    Skin Diseases

    Hamsters may be infested by a variety of skin and hair mites that can be identified through skin scraping. Ringworm, a form of fungal infection, allergic dermatitis, and skin infections may also transpire and require veterinary care.

    Hair loss is not all that unusual and can happen in older hamsters or due to seasonal conditions. But if there is flakiness, redness, any other type of skin infections, or the hamster appears to itch more than usual, you should see a vet. 

    Antibiotic-Related Disease

    There are many antibiotics that can cause fatality in hamsters because of the way their gastrointestinal tracts work. It is important to avoid antibiotics such as penicillin, gentamicin, erythromycin, streptomycin, amoxicillin, cephalosporins, vancomycin, dihydrostreptomycin, lincomycin, ampicillin, and tetracyclines.

    If you think that your hamster is ill, call your vet right away. In general, it is a good idea to often contact your veterinarian for health-related issues because they have treated your pet, are familiar with their health background, and can make the best decisions for your pet. Additionally, consider purchasing a pet insurance policy for exotic animals to help cover the cost of treatment.