A hamster that is well taken care of is usually healthy and happy. But as a hamster owner you need to be on the lookout for certain signs that can tell you if you have a sick hamster. Here are five warning signs to check for as you handle and play with your hammy.
1. Wet Bottom
When you are handling your hamster, does its bottom feel wet? This could simply indicate that your hamster just peed. But if the bottom is very wet or wet very often or if you notice matted fur down there, it could indicate that your hamster has wet tail.
If you look around the cage and see that your hamster is leaving wet poo everywhere, you can be pretty sure he or she has diarrhea. Diarrhea is another warning sign for wet tail. But it could be that your hamster is just eating too many vegetables or other kinds of treats.
The danger here is that diarrhea means your hamster can get dehydrated. Because the hamster is a small animal, dehydration can lead to a quick death. Check to make sure your hamster is getting enough water. You may try cutting back on fresh vegetables. But if the diarrhea continues, this may mean wet tail and a trip to the vet.
3. Red skin or bald patches
Under all that hamster fur is hamster skin. By moving the fur around you may see a potential warning sign if the hamster skin looks red in spots, has bald patches, or some kind of lump.
These hamster skin problems indicate a skin disease that will require a vet to take a closer look. One of the factors could be that you are not cleaning the hamster’s cage often enough or you are using the wrong kind of bedding material. See the article Types of Hamster Bedding Material for more information about bedding material.
4. Teeth growing too long
You know that hamsters have to keep gnawing with their teeth because their teeth are always growing. But a warning sign would be if you notice that your hamster’s teeth are beginning to grow longer than they should. Look inside your hamster’s mouth and make sure its teeth are not getting too close to its cheeks. Also look for sores inside your hamster’s mouth. If the teeth get too long they can pierce the mouth.
Gnawing on wooden toys, fresh vegetables, and treat blocks can help your hamster keep its teeth the right size. But if your hamster is getting overgrown teeth, you may have to go to a vet who can trim your hamster’s teeth.
See the article Overgrown Teeth or Nails to learn more about this hamster illness.
The final warning sign is if you look inside your hamster cage and your hamster is not moving. Most times, this just means your hamster is taking a nap. But if your hamster remains in that position for a long period of time and you have trouble waking it up, he or she may be in hibernation. When a hamster goes into hibernation it breathes very slowly and is in a deep, deep sleep. The hamster may look like it’s dead. But unless your hamster is old, this may just be hibernation.
Your hamster will do this if it gets too cold inside its cage. A hamster needs a temperature of about 68 to 78° F (20 to 25 C). If it gets colder than this your hamster may go into hibernation. You will need to immediately try to start warming up your hamster in your hands. Eventually, with enough heat, your hamster can wake up.
Remember to place your hamster cage someplace where it will not get too cold, such as near an air-conditioner.
Look for these warning signs as you go about playing with and watching your hamster. This will help you catch any problems early so your hamster can live a healthy and happy life.