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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
Hi I got a hamster on Tuesday fir my birthday and from I got him he has not been drinking any water and he is losing his appetite for his food. I think his ill he is always shivering and my house is not to warm ir cold. Please can you answer me back as soon as possible because I'm extremely worried about him thank you.
Sherise, Leeds
Posted: 4/17/2015 9:27:33 AM
so i have a winter white hamster. She is lying still in her food bowl lying motionless but is breathing, she used to have consecutive breaths but now it is shortened, it looks like normal breathing but a little bit smaller that usual. She was running around in her wheel today, i don't know if she is dying slowly or sick.

Please help!
Mariyah, south jordan, UT
Posted: 4/10/2015 10:19:44 PM

I just got my new hamster yesterday. Pair of Teddy Bear Hamster. I am wondering, how would I know if they have diarrhea? What is the color of it? Because I noticed yesterday that when we went home from pet shop, I saw a white liquid at the cage. And when we got home few hours later, I cleaned the cage and then I saw the white liquid again (it looks like milk). I am used to have a dog and cat pet but this one is new experience for me. Me, my Husband and Son loves it. And also, I enjoy reading this website, it is very informative. BTW, I am from the Philippines.
Vanj, International
Posted: 3/25/2015 4:00:37 PM
I just got my winter white hamster yesterday. He hasn't been eating or drinking his water. All he wants to do is make tunnels under the bedding. He is sneezing, and rubbing his face a lot. When I try to take him out of his cage and put him in his play pen, he stands on his back two legs, and doesn't move around. He's not very active above ground.

Is this normal, or did I get a sick hamster?
Kendra, Hartland, WI
Posted: 2/1/2015 7:15:50 AM
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