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Do Hamsters Have Fleas?

Last Updated: 22.08.19

 

If you are looking for information and reviews on the best hamster hut, you might find the information provided in this article to be very useful. Hamsters are small rodents, mostly kept as house pets, that have different types of fur. Depending on the species they belong to, hamsters can have long or short coats, that vary in color and thickness. Since they are warm-blooded animals, hamsters make a very suitable host for a number of external parasites, including fleas.

Both wild hamsters and pet ones too can become infested with external parasites. It is very difficult to study this type of infestation in wild hamsters since it would involve handling them frequently, which is close to impossible. Therefore, this issue has been studied and mainly addressed to pet hamsters.  

Just like most other pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, and dogs, hamsters may become infested with fleas, ticks, and mites. The key element in maintaining their health is prevention. In order to prevent a flea infestation in hamsters, we first need to understand how these parasites live, feed, and breed.

 

What are fleas?

Fleas are wingless insects that need a warm-blooded host to survive and reproduce. They only feed on blood and this type of feeding is called hematophagy. They have two longer hind legs that enable them to jump for quite considerable distances. There are over 2,500 species of fleas in the world, each of them adapted to a specific type of host.

An adult flea is about 0.12 inches long, usually brown and its body is flattened sideways, a feature that enables the insect to easily move through its host’s fur or feathers. Fleas have specially designed front claws that prevent them from being dislodged and mouth parts designed for piercing the skin and sucking blood.

A single female flea can lay up to 25 eggs per hour per day, which means that given the proper food and temperature conditions, a flea infestation will become massive in a very short period of time. Any other warm-blooded animal living alongside infested pets will also be affected, fleas getting on them very easily.

How do hamsters get fleas?

There are quite a few ways a pet hamster might get infested with fleas, and we will further take a closer look at some of the most common ones. One thing is for sure, and that is that pet hamster infestations always have their origin in the surrounding environment of the tiny pet, which is also the start off point of any decontamination treatment. So, where do hamsters get fleas from?

One possibility is the cage itself if the owner chose to buy the cage second hand or to borrow one from another pet owner instead of buying a cage. Cages can be infested with flea eggs, which are not noticeable to the naked eye, but given the proper conditions, they will hatch and baby fleas will rapidly become a problem to your pet hamster.

Hamsters may also get fleas from other pets in the household if they carry a massive flea infestation. Given that fleas can jump for considerable distances, they could also jump into the hamster’s cage, becoming a serious health issue to the pet hamster. If external parasite prevention treatments are used on all the other pets in the house on a regular basis, then fleas should never be a problem to your furry buddy.

Another possible flea infestation source may be the use of unsuitable bedding. If one chooses to buy the bedding from other sources than reliable pet shops, then there is a real risk of bringing more than just new bedding into your home. It is always best to buy the hamster bedding from trustworthy sources, in order to ensure they are free from parasites and harmful substances.

 

How can you tell if your hamster has fleas?

The first indicator that there might be something wrong with your pet buddy is a change in its usual behavior. This change can be in one of two possible ways. Either your hamster becomes agitated, irritated, scratches a lot and has an overall unease, or, he or she might become less active than usual, eating less, scratching a lot, and become lethargic to a certain extent.

You first need to hold your pet hamster and check for flea feces in its fur. This is the easiest way to see if you are dealing with a flea infestation or there is something else wrong with the pet hamster. As you push the fur backward, you may also notice a few of these parasites making a run for it, in an attempt to hide in the nearby fur.

While you are holding your hamster, check for any signs of fur loss, as well. Some pets develop flea saliva and dirt allergy, thus losing patches of fur. Another allergy sign is red, swollen skin. This could happen in the same areas where fur loss is noticed, or it can be seen on the entire body, but to a lower degree. Since a lot of scratching takes place in flea infestations, you should also check for scratch marks on your pet’s body.

You might also want to check the bedding, and the overall inside of the enclosure since fleas will hide in the bedding for quite a long time. If there are fleas in the cage bedding, you should spot them jumping around as you move the bedding from its original position. In the case of large infestations, you will also notice fleas moving around in the cage without any previous disturbance.

How can you get rid of the infestation?

In case your hamster does have fleas, the first thing you want to do is to contact your local veterinarian seeking advice and appropriate treatment. Since many substances that are commonly used in external parasite treatments could be harmful to hamsters, a veterinarian prescription is needed in such a case.

Secondly, you should make sure all the other pets in the household are parasite-free or are now undergoing treatment. Also, the cage should be thoroughly and frequently cleaned while the treatment is ongoing. This will ensure no flea eggs are left inside the enclosure, preventing them from further developing and coming back to the same problem all over again.

Bringing other new pet hamsters in the enclosure is to be completely avoided, also. This way you prevent the infestation from further spreading to other pet hamsters, and you also prevent a new infestation from occurring in case the new hamster addition would also be carrying fleas. Flea infestations are more of a nuisance than posing a real threat for most pets, but for hamsters, it is a different story.

 

Are fleas harmful to hamsters?

The extent to which a flea infestation will affect your pet hamster depends on how massive the infestation is, and on how well it is managed by the owner once it is revealed. In the case of minor flea infestations, taking immediate action will ensure no additional harm is being done to your furry friend by these annoying parasites.

However, in case of massive infestations, the high-stress level given by the constant itching, scratching and thus irritation, together with the massive blood loss that fleas cause by feeding and the toxins they release as dirt and saliva on the pet hamster’s body will lead to illness of the affected pet. Anemia will soon follow, together with appetite loss and, thus, weight loss.

These are all severe symptoms for such a small and sensitive animal, and, under extreme circumstances could even prove to be fatal. Therefore, keeping a close eye on your tiny hamster could prove to be of utmost importance in case anything goes wrong. The sooner the pet owner notices changes in the hamster’s overall wellbeing and takes immediate action, the better for the pet and the longer and healthier it will live.

    

 

 

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