Posted: July 17, 2013, 4 a.m. EDT
What could be causing these mysterious lumps on a hamster's chin?
Q: My hamster has these lumps under her chin and some smaller ones over her body that I can feel. She is only 6 months old and has been to the veterinarian. The vet said that the large lump could be a cyst but has no idea on what the other lumps around her body are. She is in good health other than these lumps. She is eating well and playing. Have you heard of anything like these lumps around the body before, and if so what advice would you give to us?
A: Thank you for sending the picture along with the question. Those "lumps” are very unusual for a hamster and would have been difficult for you to describe them.
There can be a number of reasons for these types of "lumps” being present on your hamster. The causes include benign or sterile cysts, infection, skin reaction, cancer or even a congenital condition.
Because we cannot distinguish one type of cyst from another just by looking at them, some diagnostic approaches are recommended to get a diagnosis.
If you do nothing and these are benign cysts, they may possibly resolve on their own. If your hamster was born with these cysts, they may be congenital and there is not much you can do to treat them, but this is unlikely as these cysts would have been present since birth.
It seems more likely, from your note, that these cysts developed since you have had your hamster. Therefore, I would be more concerned that these cysts could be suggestive of disease and you probably do not want to take a "wait and see approach.” I recommend asking your veterinarian to help determine what is causing this condition.
Your veterinarian can use two methods to make a diagnosis. One is to put a needle into the "lumps” and remove the fluid in the cysts and send the sample to a laboratory for analysis. Another approach is to remove one or more lumps with surrounding skin and to send that material to a laboratory for analysis.
Once the analysis is received from the laboratory, then you will know if the lumps are serious, if they require treatment, and what the prognosis may be. Treatment, if needed, might be as simple as removing irritant material in the environment or topical antibiotic administration.
Is a bump on a hamster's eyelid something to be concerned about?
Q: My hamster is a little more than 4 months old. For about a week now, I noticed that he has a bump/spot or pimplelike thing on his right eyelid. Is this serious? I really love him, and I hope everything is OK. His eye isn't stuck or anything like that.
A: Typically "lumps” around the eye in young animals are not serious problems. They can be due to conditions such as a "sterile” cyst, a hair follicle infection or even a disturbance of the glandular tissue near the eye. Sometimes these will resolve on their own or, depending on the cause, need some minor treatment from your hamster’s veterinarian.
It is likely that this is a minor condition because your hamster is so young. In an adult, we would worry about cancer as a cause of a mass that looks like this. For this reason, I recommend a visit to your veterinarian.
Cancer is a condition more likely seen in an older animal, but it can strike at any age, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
Therefore, it is a good idea to visit your veterinarian. It should be a rather straightforward procedure for your vet to make a diagnosis during the physical examination followed possibly by an aspirate of the lump.
See all veterinary Q&A about hamsters, click here>>
See the Hamster Health Center, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>