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Hamster With Patches Of Long Fur Concerns Owner

Is it a concern if a young hamster grows patches of long fur?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: July 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have a young hamster, a month or two old, and he has small patches of long fur. I was on vacation for two and a half weeks, and I came back to find him like this. Should I leave the fur alone? Should I clip it? Is my hamster unhealthy?

A: It is very unusual for any animal to grow fur of a different length to replace fur that was either shorter or longer. Because your hamster is so young, I wonder if you have a “teddy bear” hamster or a breed that grows long hair.

I am not sure I would consider your hamster unhealthy based on some areas with long fur. At this point, I would wait to see if other areas of the haircoat start to grow longer.

In the meantime, look at pictures of Angora or teddy bear hamsters and see if your hamster matches those pictures.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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Hamster With Patches Of Long Fur Concerns Owner

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Reader Comments
This is perfectly normal. You're a very careful and loving owner to check!

The long-haired variety of the Syrian hamster is born naked, just like the short-haired variety. As tiny pups, it's impossible to tell whether a hamster will have long or short hair.

After a few weeks, long-haired pups start looking different. The fur may be longer all over (except the face and belly, where it will stay short throughout their life). It may also begin with longer patches here and there.

Both are normal, and indicate no problem at all.

Long-haired males usually develop full, long coats all over their back and sides. Long-haired females usually have more of a "puffy" appearance, as their coats won't be as long as their male counterparts. It's not unusual for long-haired females to maintain a few longer patches, though -- most notably on their sides at the hips or a few wisps around the ears.

It's fine to trim the long areas if your hamster has any problem grooming it, or if bits of bedding were to become tangled. Fidgety hamsters and scissors are potentially a very bad mix though, so it's safer to comb any bedding out of his fur daily with your fingers and enjoy how beautiful a long-haired hamster is. [Posted on behalf of Jane Landis]
David, New York, NY
Posted: 7/29/2010 12:11:55 PM
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