Play close attention to how your hamsters behave, how they look, and their interactions with you or their cage mates. Spending some time with them daily and observing them will indicate their state of health. We will unveil several common illnesses of hamsters, their causes, symptoms, and how they can be treated.


Common illnesses in hamsters

With close monitoring, you’ll be able to keep a lookout for any potential health issues your hamster might be facing and seek early medical intervention. The following are some of the common illnesses in hamsters you should watch out for:


○ Wet Tail (Proliferative Ileitis)

Wet Tail which is also known as Proliferative Ileitis is a hamster health issue that is caused by Lawsonia intracellularis bacteria. This is responsible for the inflammation of the small intestine which eventually leads to diarrhoea). It is a contagious disease that affects only young Syrian hamsters. Diarrhoea (this often causes wetness around the tail), loss of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss.
Note: Wet Tail is not always the cause of diarrhea in hamsters. Seek the help of a veterinarian immediately for proper treatment. The usual course of treatment for this is antibiotics and oral medication.


○ Diarrhoea

The most common cause of diarrhoea is overfeeding them with vegetables and fruits, contaminated foods, or abrupt dietary changes.  It can also be caused by several infections such as wet tails and intestinal parasites. Hamsters with diarrhoea typically display symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, dehydration, and weight loss. Try to discontinue feeding them vegetables and fruits for one or two days. If the condition does not improve, consult your local veterinarian.


○ Colds

Colds are contagious. If you have it, your pet can catch one from you. A cold can also be caused by a drafty or cold room, not being dried fully after a bath, and sleeping under a water bottle. If your hamster has a cold, it may display these symptoms - lack of activity, swollen nose, weight loss,  sneezing,  running nose, increased thirst, ears are laid back, warm body temperature,  half-closed and watery eyes, sniffling, fatigue, and matted/un-groomed fur. Treat your hamster by disinfecting the cage, feeding dishes, and replacing all watering. Ensure the bedding is fresh and dry and ensure their foods are loaded with vitamins and Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. If you have a cold, it would be advisable to avoid direct contact with your hamster.


○ Constipation

Constipation can be caused by intestinal parasites eg. tapeworms, feeding on their bedding which may block their intestines, or when a part of the intestine folds inside (intussusception). As a result, they may suffer from abdominal pain, straining to defecate, hard & dry feces (often small in volume), worms in feces, and intussusception. Constipation may be treated through surgery by removing a part of the intestines or with anthelminthic drugs. Nonetheless, ensure your pets are properly fed with plenty of leafy vegetables and fruits and supplied with sufficient water. Oxbow Natural Science Digestive Supplement For Small Pet 60CTs (120g) is recommended because it will boost your hamster's digestive system.


 ○ Mange

This condition is caused by microscopic parasitic mites that live and feed on or under the hamster's skin. Your hamster may have rough, dry, and scaly skin (in prolonged cases) especially around the feet, ears, tail, and face. Ensure they are kept in a well-ventilated and sterilized cage with clean bedding. You can use aloe vera gel or neem oil to treat hamster's mange. Your vet may prescribe ivermectin as an oral medication. Oxbow Natural Science Skin And Coat For Small Pets 60CTs (120g) can be used to supplement your hamster’s meals.


○ Fleas and Lice

Hamsters may get fleas and lice when exposed to other pets such as dogs, cats, mice, and rats. You may observe fast-moving insects at the base of the hair shaft across the hamster's body. You can also check to see if there are little black droppings left behind by the pests. Take them to your vet to kill the parasites with flea powder. Also, change the bedding and practice a high standard of hygiene to prevent reinfestation.


○ Runny Eyes

Runny eyes can be caused by infection (similar to conjunctivitis), allergic reaction to bedding, or when there is debris or dirt in the eyeThere may be swelling in the eye area, causing red & irritated eyes. Let your vet attend to your hamster as fast as possible. The condition may worsen if you try to deal with the problem at home.


○ Lumps and Bumps

Lumps and bumps can be caused by sterile or benign cysts, skin reactions, cancer, infections, or even a congenital condition. Your hamster’s testicles may be hardened and distended, swelling may occur around the mammary glands, tooth problems may surface. Do seek medical intervention immediately.


○ Paralysis

Paralysis is usually caused by a lack of exercise, spinal injury, or Vitamin D deficiency. Lack of movements in the forepaws leads to stiffness which may eventually result in death. Provide an exercise wheel, roomy cage, or some other recreation or activity that can promote a speedy recovery. Feed them with a lot of wheat germ and wheat germ oil.