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10 Common Hamster Illnesses

Last Updated: 03.04.20



If you are wondering what some of the most common health problems that hamsters can suffer from are, you have come to the right place since we’ve gathered all the useful information in this comprehensive article, and you can check it out right now.

Similarly, if you wish to learn more about how to keep your fluffy pet healthy, you can take a look at some of our other articles to see how you can combine a proper diet with fun toys such as hamster tubes to get the best results.



When hamsters develop infections, they can cause an abscess to form. It can develop on any area of the body, including the mouth, and is usually the result of an infection with Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. An abscess can be very painful for your small companion and it requires draining and cleaning by a vet.

If you see that your hamsters show signs of an abscess, you should seek professional advice immediately. The main symptom is the appearance of swelling on the body, and that swelling can be either soft or hard.



Bar rub

If the cage your hamster lives in has bars, chances are that it will spend a lot of its time gnawing at them. This behavior is not problematic, but if it is done a lot it can result in hair loss, bleeding, or permanent scarring. To solve this problem, you will need to identify and solve the cause.

A bar rub can be a sign that your pet needs a chew toy in its enclosure since the teeth of a hamster grow throughout its life and it will need to chew in order to keep them at a comfortable length. Similarly, the pet may resort to bar rubbing if it lacks stimulation, in which case adding more toys can be a solution.

Finally, bar rub can also occur if the cage is not big enough or if the hamster wheel is not correctly-sized. If the wheel is too small, the pet won’t use since it will find it uncomfortable.


Colds and coughs

Just as humans, these furry critters can also catch colds and the illness may even be passed from human to pet. If you are not feeling well, or one of the members of your family has a cold, it is a good idea to avoid contact with the hamster. Similarly, if one of your pets is ill, you should keep it away from the other hamsters.

Identifying a cold is very easy since the symptoms are the same as those found in humans, namely sneezing, coughing, wet nose, and difficulty in breathing. The symptoms of a cold can coincide with those of an infection or allergy, which is why you should seek help from a vet if they persist.



If you don’t keep your furry companion in a well-ventilated and cool room, dehydration can become a serious problem even if its water bottle is full. Hamsters can overheat easily and dehydration can be life-threatening to them.

This affliction can also occur if the water bottle has developed a blockage. You can check the integrity of the product by touching the tip of the bottle when it is attached in the usual position in the cage. If the finger comes away dry, there is a blockage and the bottle will need to be replaced or fixed.


Eye infections or injuries

If you find that your hamster is weeping, the eye area is swelling, or that it is pawing at its eye, chances are that there may be something stuck there. When you notice this happening you should take it to the vet as soon as possible since it can be very painful to the pet.

You shouldn’t try to treat this problem by yourself since due to the fact that hamsters have very small eyes, it can be difficult to do anything without the proper equipment.



There are four common types of parasites that a hamster can get infected with, and most of them will cause discomfort. Worms can be present without any symptoms, but you should be on the lookout for signs of weight loss and diarrhea.

Mites will cause your pet’s hair to fall off and will dry up the skin. Mange is another type of mite that shows similar symptoms but that can be even more irritating for the pet. Fleas are easily visible and just as on dogs and cats, they can cause a lot of itching. You can get rid of all the parasites mentioned above by asking for professional help from a vet.



Many pets will develop lumps throughout their lives. The most common ones are mammary gland lumps and they are mostly present in female hamsters. These tumors are firm and they grow very fast, which is why they should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. On the other hand, lumps are normal during pregnancy.

Respiratory infections

Coughing, sneezing, difficulty in breathing and a runny nose can also be signs that your critter suffers from a respiratory infection. Unlike colds, these won’t go away easily and require veterinary treatment as soon as possible since they can hinder your pet’s ability to breathe.


Urinary problems

One way to see if your critter has urinary problems is to have a quick check of the bedding each time you clean the cage. If you see blood, chances are that it originates from the urine, especially if you can’t see any signs of wounds on its body.

Similarly, if you notice that your hamster’s urine has changed color drastically without a change in diet, it can be another sign of a urinary problem that requires immediate attention.


Wet tail

Wet tail is a very dangerous condition that is best described as a serious case of diarrhea. If you see that your hamster has a wet tail and a strange posture, it is very likely that it suffers from this painful condition.

Pets with wet tail should be kept away from your other hamsters. They will also need to be hydrated as much as possible so that they can regain the water they lost. The veterinarian will then most likely prescribe you some antibiotics to help your little pet fight the infection.




Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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