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Signs Your Hamster Is Sick

Know the signs of an ill hamster.

By Audrey Pavia
Posted: March 31, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Syrian hamster lying down
Hamster Peanut/Courtesy Tiffany Ann Deschamps
Knowing the signs of illness in hamsters might give you more time to help if your hamster falls ill.

A healthy hamster eats well, grooms itself, runs and plays normally, and has a full, shiny coat and bright eyes. Hamsters are sturdy little animals, but poor care, an incorrect diet or an unhealthy environment can all cause illnesses. Illness can also result from poor genetics or old age. The following signs indicate that your hamster may be unwell:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Inactivity
  • A dirty or matted coat
  • Red or flaky skin
  • Lumps beneath the skin
  • Excessive itchiness
  • Sneezing
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Dull eyes
  • Wheezing or labored breathing
  • Shaking or shivering
  • Wetness in the tail area
  • Diarrhea


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Signs Your Hamster Is Sick

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Reader Comments
My teddy bear hamsters stomach has grown to about the size of a baseball, and he poops a lot! He is also really inactive. Any idea what I could do for his stomach problem. I'm thinking it's a digestive issue. Am I wrong?
Colton, Garrettsville, OH
Posted: 4/15/2014 5:46:18 PM
Umm Sarah I think you should see a vet about that because it depends on what medicine your giving the hamster or maybe its just an old age either way see a vet
Cyianna, International
Posted: 2/14/2014 12:44:33 AM
My little Hamster is just over a year old. She recently had itchy skin so after cleaning her out and disinfecting the cage I gave her some solution from the pet shop which is supposed to rid the pet of any lice and protect against more. Since then she has stayed inside her house (nest) and won't open her eyes full. She is eating when I offer her food but she is normally very active and this behaviour isn't normal for her. Could this behaviour be in reaction to the solution I gave her, or is it more likely to be a coincidental cold? Please help, I love my little hamster.
Sarah, International
Posted: 2/3/2014 12:04:40 PM
Hello Averi, I’m sorry that your hamster is ill. Although I am not a veterinarian, the signs you describe sound serious. Your best chance for helping your hamster is taking it to a veterinarian who regularly treats hamsters. If you need help locating a veterinarian, check the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarian’s website. LINK It has a search for finding veterinarians. If an exotics veterinarian is not nearby, consider asking a local vet if he or she will consult via phone with an exotics vet. I wish all the best to you and your hamster.
Marylou, Irvine, CA
Posted: 10/21/2013 11:31:40 AM
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