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Checking A Hamster’s Cheek Pouch

Is it safe to check a hamster’s cheek pouch?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: June 27, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: Our hamster escaped into our garage but was rescued. How can we check what is in her cheek pouch in case it is something dangerous?
A: If the hamster’s cheek pouches are not enlarged, then likely there is nothing in the pouch that is dangerous. Checking a hamster’s cheek pouch has some risk involved, and so we do not usually do it unless there is a good reason to look inside.

The risk while inverting a hamster’s cheek pouch includes puncturing the pouch, which leads to pain and infection. Inverting a hamster’s cheek pouch may also push something in the cheek pouch into the mouth, which can then cause obstruction of the hamster’s trachea and lead to difficulty in breathing.

If your hamster’s cheek pouch is bulging, visit your veterinarian. Using appropriate instruments to minimize risk, the veterinarian can invert the pouch and remove any dangerous items your hamster may have decided to store in that pouch.

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

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