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Hamster health conditions can include anything from dental problems due to the continuous growth of the teeth to tumors, which can cause cancer. The following list includes many but not all health conditions that can affect domestic hamsters.

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Dental problemsEdit

Misalignment of incisors due to injury or malnutrition may result in overgrowth, which can cause injury to the roof of the mouth. Symptoms include a drop or loss of appetite, drooling, weight loss, or foul breath. The only cure is for a veterinarian to regularly trim the overgrown incisors and prescribe antibiotics.[1]

TraumaEdit

Common injuries are caused by hamsters being dropped or falling, usually while inside an "exercise ball", which can cause broken limbs or a fractured spine, for which there is no cure. Injured hamsters should be examined immediately by a veterinarian to determine the best course of action in each situation.[1]

TemperatureEdit

Hamsters need to be kept in a temperature which is comfortable to most humans. This is good, but occasionally they can get too hot or too cool.

If a hamster is too hot, it may get a heat stroke. An animal with heat stroke may be lethargic and limp. Its ears will be down. It might be sweaty or its fur may be matted. If you suspect heat stroke put your hamster in a cool location and mist it gently with cool water. When it seems revived, place it in his cage in a cool location and make sure it has plenty of cold water and cold moist fruits (such as apple) to replenish its fluids.

If a hamster is too cold, it may develop induced hibernation. In this state it won't be able to easily wake up and is cold to the touch; he or she may die. Revive the hamster by handling it in a very warm location. Use a heater or a lamp or even the bathroom with hot steamy water running, but do not place the hamster's cage directly on the heating source or it could get too hot. After it is revived, keep it very warm for about ten hours and then make sure it is not chilled again.

If a too hot or too cold hamster is not revived by the above treatment within 20 minutes, it will need immediate emergency vet care. To avoid this trauma in the future:

  • Never place a hamster's cage in a window, on or near a heat source (even an infrequent one like a fireplace) or in a room that gets a lot of midday sun.
  • Never let your hamster cage sit directly on a cold surface like a concrete floor. If you must keep your pet in the garage or basement, put its cage on a raised platform and provide insulation in the form of a blanket wrapped around the bottom third of the cage and taped securely with electrical tape.
  • If you think your hamster is getting too cold in the winter nights, provide extra nesting material and make sure it has a snug house inside his cage. Additionally you may want to aim a lamp at the cage which is a less expensive way to provide heat to a small area than a space heater.
  • The smaller the animal, the greater the ratio of surface area to mass, and the greater the rate of heat loss. Consequently, hamsters are not as hardy as rabbits or guinea pigs and the cage is best kept indoors.
  • When in doubt, pick your hamster up. He or she should feel neither cold nor warm to the touch.
  • If you feel unable to take care of your hamster take it to an animal shelter as soon as possible.

Bladder stonesEdit

Hamsters are susceptible to bladder stones. Although the owner will typically not detect the stone, symptoms include frequent and painful urination, blood in vagioma, increased water consumption, and loss of appetite. Only a veterinarian can remove the stone and provide appropriate antibiotics.[1]

TumorsEdit

Tumors, both benign and malignant, are fairly common in pet hamsters, and are most common in older females. Usually, the tumors involve hormone-producing organs, causing hormone imbalances, hair loss, and changes in behavior. If it is an external tumor, a veterinarian can often perform surgery, but internal tumors are much more difficult to remove, since the animal is so small, so the owners typically elect not to operate, but, rather, to euthanize the pet.[1]

Stress Induced conditionsEdit

Wet tailEdit

The most serious intestinal disease of hamsters is "wet tail", or proliferative ileitis, which is most common among weaning hamsters (4-6 weeks) and Syrian hamsters but may occur in any hamster under stressful conditions. Symptoms include lethargy, increased irritability, hunched posture, fluid or bloody diarrhea, a wet, soiled anal area and tail, and, sometimes, rectal prolapse. A veterinarian is needed to immediately examine and evaluate the situation and will usually treat the problem with fluid replacement, oral anti diarrheal medication, and antibiotics, although treatment is often easy to treat if your hamster takes its antibiotics.

SalmonellosisEdit

Several species of the bacterium salmonella can cause serious intestinal disease in hamsters and is transmittable to humans. The bacterium is usually acquired by eating contaminated food, especially fruit and vegetables, which can be avoided by thoroughly washing them before they are offered to hamsters. Treatment includes either antibiotics or euthanasia.[1]

Demodectic mangeEdit

Demodectic mange is a common external parasite problem caused by mites that reside within the hair follicles and certain glands of the skin, with symptoms including scaly skin and significant hair loss, especially over the back. This disease can be treated, but the patient may have an underlying problem, such as kidney disease, for which there is no practical treatment or cure.[1]

Rabies and lymphocytic choriomeningitisEdit

Hamsters are not natural hosts of the rabies or lymphocytic choriomeningitis viruses, so a hamster can become infected with them if exposed to infected saliva from a natural host, such as a skunk, fox, or bat, although this is highly unlikely in captivity, as hamsters are indoor pets. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is transmittable to humans, with symptoms such as recurrent fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, sore throat, rash, and arthritis. [1]

Intestinal parasitesEdit

Hamsters frequently harbor intestinal parasites within their small intestines:

  • Tapeworm is the most common, causes weight loss and can be transmitted to humans through the animal's feces.
  • Pinworms are less common and usually cause no signs at all besides itching of the anus and cannot be transmitted to humans.

Owners suspicious of either parasite problem will need to submit a fecal sample to a veterinarian for diagnosis. If there are eggs in the sample, treatment can be instituted by the veterinarian.[1]

Eyeless whitesEdit

Anophthalmic whites, more commonly known as "eyeless whites", are all white hamsters that are born without eyes. These hamsters are produced when two white-bellied hamsters carrying the anophthalmic gene are used for breeding. The eyes are usually non-existent, but are sometimes rudimentary, or not fully developed. The hamsters are typically born deaf as well, and the life span of eyeless whites is around 9-12 months.

Blind hamsters are perfectly capable of survival, but they can be a lot more nervous than normal hamsters. Since hamsters usually have poor eyesight to begin with, blindness is not a huge handicap, although the animals are more difficult to tame, so an owner must use extra care. They will feed normally and are very active, although they may seem to lose all comprehension of time, and seem not to know if it is day or night.[2]

External LinksEdit

- Hamster Health PageEdit


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