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. hamster health book

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.

hamster health book

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.


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Nov 132011

Maybe your hamster has finished his or her time here and gone on to Hamster Heaven. Or maybe you’re thinking about getting a hamster as a present for your kids.

You probably want the new hamster to be the cutest little hammy in the bunch. But all hammies are cute! What you want is a cute and healthy hamster.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re ready to choose a hamster:

Get a hamster that’s not too old or young.

  • Ask for a hamster that is about 5 or 6 weeks old. Hamsters that are too young can get overstressed and become ill when being moved to a new hamster cage in a new environment. Older hamsters can make good pets but may have trouble adjusting to a new home if not handled gently and carefully.

Inspect the cage the hamster is being kept in.

  • Is the cage clean and well kept? If not, the hamster may already have an illness.
  • Do the other hamsters in the same cage look healthy? Another sick hamster may have already infected the one you’re interested in.

Check to see if your hamster is healthy.

  • Does it have a round, broad body with no lumps? This indicates a normally growing hamster that eats well.
  • Is its coat full and well groomed? Does the fur lie down evenly and smoothly? Bald patches and matted fur can indicate a hamster health problem.
  • Is it lively, energetic, and alert? Is it using the exercise wheel? If a hamster is sleeping all the time, it may be ill. Many people recommend checking out a hamster you want to buy in the evening. Because hamsters are nocturnal animals, that’s when they will be moving around the most.
  • Are its eyes clear and bright? They should be free of any discharge.
  • Is its nose clean? It should be free of any discharge.
  • Is its tail bottom area dry? If it’s wet or matted it may indicate wet tail disease.
  • Is its feces solid and dry? Wet feces or diarrhea indicate illness.
  • Are its teeth in good shape? A healthy hamster will have two incisor teeth in their upper and lower jaws. If these teeth look too long, it could indicate overgrown teeth, a definite health problem.

Handle the hamster  hamster being held

  • Hold the hamster gently cupped in two hands. A hamster may give a small bite when first held, but it should not do this continually. If the store has done its job properly, the hamster should be used to being held.
  • If the store won’t let you handle the hamster it may be a biter, which means it can harm someone.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking to buy a hamster. Take your time so you can get a healthy, active hamster that will provide years of fun.

Finally, if you’re new to hamsters, make sure you’ve identified a vet before you bring your hamster home. That way, you will be prepared if you spot any trouble.


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