Posted: March 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: We have a 1-year-old Syrian hamster. He has a small lump on his left cheek, which doesn't seem to bother him. He is still eating and drinking. We are keeping an eye on him. Is there anything else we need to do?
A: One of the most likely causes for what you are seeing is an enlarged cheek pouch. This is very, very common in hamsters. In most cases, this is just food that is in the pouch and neither a cause for alarm nor a need for a visit to the veterinarian.
Less commonly, this enlargement represents an infection or abscess in the cheek pouch. An even less common cause is a mass in the pouch.
How do you know if this is something to be concerned about? If this is food, the lump will go away or may return when more food is stuffed into the pouch. If this is an infection or a mass, the lump will not go away and may actually get much larger and your hamster will appear sick and possibly stop eating and drinking.
If you are concerned, the best course of action is to visit your veterinarian so he or she can examine the pouch inside the mouth and tell you exactly what is causing the problem.
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