Jan 162012
 

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.

This is a dangerous bacterial infection. What’s more, this is a contagious disease that can affect other hamsters. Wet tail can be cured but I advise taking your hamster to the vet immediately.

2. Diarrhea

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
Hamster illness
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.

5. Hibernation

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.

Pin It
Mar 102011
 

One of the most typical hamster cages is the wire cage. It’s made of metal bars with spaces between them and usually has a plastic base. Below you can read about the pluses and minuses of the wire bars on these cages. For a discussion of wire hamster cage size, height, cleaning, and security, read Guidelines For Buying A Wire Hamster Cage.

Air circulation

As you know, hamsters do a lot of running, so they need plenty of good air flow. The spaces between the bars on a wire cage is a real plus for air circulation. It helps get air in and allows the bathroom fumes to get out. On the other hand, if you put your cage too close to a window or an air-conditioning duct, the cage will be too drafty. Too much cool air can make your hammy ill. So be careful where you locate your wire cage.

 

Size of the spaces between bars

The size of the spaces, or how much distance there is between two wire bars, can make a big difference in whether this type cage is the right one for your hamster. Hamsters are escape artists and if the spaces between the bars are too large, your hamster will try to get out

Larger type hamsters, like a Syrian or Teddy Bear, will usually not fit between wire bars that are 1/2 inch apart, so this type of cage is good for them. Dwarf hamsters, like a Roborovski, may be small enough to squeeze through 1/2 inch bars and escape. This is why many people use an aquarium for a dwarf hamster.

When you’re thinking about buying a wire cage, check the space between the wire bars. Think about whether or not your hamster can squeeze through the space.

Gnawing

Remember, hamsters need to gnaw on things because their teeth are always growing. Some hamsters are going to gnaw on the wires of the cage. Make sure the wires are chew proof. That means they are not made with paint that can chip off and hurt your hamster. To make sure your hamster has something to gnaw, be sure to keep quite a few chew toys in the cage.

Some hamsters gnaw on the wire bars just because they’re bored. So make sure your hamster has enough toys to play with and gets plenty of exercise. Give your hamster some play time outside his or her cage in an exercise ball.

Also, even if your wire cage is chew proof, some hamster owners find the gnawing noise annoying – especially at night.

For more information, read What to Do About Hamster Cage Bar Gnawing.

Security

There are also a few safety considerations when you’re thinking about using a wire cage. Small children can stick their fingers between the bars. This lets them touch and play with the hamster. But sometimes little fingers can get caught between the small spaces between the wires.

The spaces between the wires also may mean that your other pets can try to attack your hamster. For example, cats can stick their claws between the bars and try and grab your hamster. If you have a wire cage place it up high enough so that other pets don’t try to get to reach your hamster in the cage.

Attaching items

Wire bars can also be convenient when you want to attach hamster accessories. For example an exercise wheel can be attached to the cage. A water bottle can also be attached to the side of the cage. By attaching things to the side of the cage you can get more space at the bottom of the cage so your hamster can have more room to run around.

To buy hamster cages, go to the hamster cages and accessories page.

Pin It