Injured or Sick: Signs and Symptoms


If you are concerned that one of your pet hamsters might be sick, you probably already have a good feeling something might be wrong. By closely observing your pet’s behavior and physical appearance, you can determine if you have a sick hamster on your hands. Once you determine there is a problem, you can go about treating a sick hamster. Treatments can include things you can do yourself or if your hamsters are sick to the point the need special medication, you will need to go to the vet. Of course you can help avoid having to do this by learning how to prevent illnesses.

Signs and Symptoms

Change in Your Hamster’s Behavior: Good care involves observing your hamster often to see how it acts on a good day. Understand what a typical day is for your little pets. Watch the wake up routine; does the pet in question stretch and yawn like it usually does? Is your hamster eating and drinking the usual amount per day? Has the interaction it has among other hamsters roommates changed in any way? If you answered yes to any of these, it’s possible your little guy or gal is under the weather, injured or sick.
Interaction Between You and Your Hamster: Next observe how they interact with you. When you open the cage door, are your hamsters responsive? A normal reaction would be for it to perk its ears up and look towards your direction. A sick hamster might be completely out of it and not have any reaction when you open the cage. It might also cower or get nippy as it might feel vulnerable when it is sick or injured. Of course if your hamster is new, it might be a bit shy until it gets familiar with being handled.

Syrian Hamster Breed
Coat and Fur: A healthy one with a satin coat should have a sleek coat or fur. If it looks dull or wet, it might be a sign that it is sick. If a coat that is normally rex, now has a ruffled or dried out coat appearance, it can also be a sign of illnesses.
Eyes: Healthy eyes are bright and alert without redness. There should be no discharge or crusty parts; the should not be dull or sunken in appearance. Some hamster breeds have reddish eyes to begin with so it’s important to observe what the eyes of this hamster normally look like.
Nose: The nose should be dry and not runny. A runny nose can be a sign of a cold or some other virus.
Tail: A wet hamster tail is not a good sign. This is wetness can either be fecal matter or urine. If you notice your sick hamster not moving away from where it just did it’s business, this is a strong indicator that there is a real health issue going on.
Cute hamster standing

For more specific illnesses and injuries and the possible treatments, see the the hamster illnesses section of this care guide.

36 comments on “Injured or Sick: Signs and Symptoms
  1. Kyle Park says:

    My hamster is about 6 months old, and I do have some gnawing block thingys. It lookes like its been used, because of the fact that its chewed along the edges. Its eyes are usually half open, however I am unable to see if its because of fatigue or sickness. I look at my hamster during the day so i think it looks tired. It has a running wheel that it uses during the night as our family hears it while trying to go to sleep.
    I will try to find vitamin drops. Do they sell them at the local pet shop?
    I changed its food bowl, water, and cleaned its cage. I will reply if things start to get better. Thank you for your help!

  2. Kyle Park says:

    My hamster is acting a little strange lately. It drinks a lot of water and I think its trying to gnaw on the water bottle, but Im not sure. It doesnt eat much, even its favorite food: sunflower seeds. Its grown skinny and its ears are flat against its back. Also its back legs are shaped funny. Sort of like a frogs back legs. I must admit I havent been taking care of it much, for instance not changing its food bowl often or not changing the bedding, but now Im concerened for it. What should I do? Will it get better if I take care of it more? Please help!

    • admin says:

      First things first, clean your hamster’s cage, change the bedding and its food and water. The good new, your hamster is drinking water. If it isn’t it will lead to dehydration which in hamsters can be a death sentence. Is your hamster getting old? Does it have trouble walking? Do you have toys in the cage for it to gnaw on and get exercise? Older or out of shape hamsters can get issues with their back legs. see our post on hind limb problems. Having toys for exercise and to gnaw on, will make it less likely for your hamster to gnaw on its water bottle. If your hamster is not eating, you might want to put vitamin drops in its water. See our post on hamster diet. Lastly, seeing its ears pinned back is another sign of an issue. It’s either stressed or has an illness. With only those few signs, it’s hard to determine what the real issue is but do these things mentioned in this post and it is a good start. Let us know if your hamster starts to improve.

  3. Amber says:

    I’m getting a hamster and I’m scared it will get sick and I won’t notice! What should I do? Help! I’m scared!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-(

    • admin says:

      If you feed it well and keep the cage clean, you should be able to keep the little guy from getting sick. Also, observe it everyday to see if you notice any changes in behavior.

    • reyna yeo says:

      OMG!! my hamster’s back leg is injured i think……it’s like crippled……..wad should i do now???????????wad should i do now????!!!

      • admin says:

        I hope your hamster’s legs are better. There are many reasons their back legs stop working. An injury, old age or a lack of exercise to name a few. You can help treat some of these with a change in diet and more exercise options. In terms of an injury, you can either go to the vet or try to make your hamster feel more comfortable as it tries to heal. A vet might not be able to do much other than prescribe some pain medication. Surgery and casts on such a small pet is often impossible and many vets won’t. Follow some of the advice in this post and you can improve your chances of it getting better.

  4. Tracey says:

    My hamster has been very sick a few days now. Very lethargic and weak. We actually thought he had passed the other day but has not. He’s not eating/drinking either. He does have a yellow discharge that seems to have dried up underneath him. It’s a boy…is that his penis? I don’t know whats wrong with him but I believe it’s immenent that he’ll be passing away. My children are upset. Do you know what could be wrong? He’s a dwarf hamster.

    • admin says:

      Yeah, it’s likely dried up urine. It’s hard to tell what it might be. Is the hamster an older hamster, does it have any other symptoms like respiratory problems, runny nose? You should take a water dropper and make the hamster drink water since hamsters can become dehydrated quickly. I’d almost call a vet and tell them your situation; the vet might be able to give you some advice over the phone.

  5. Alyssa Martinez says:

    My hamster hasnt been it self latley, it now and the sneezes and just sleeps all day, only getting up for 2 hours during the night. i was wondering if hamsters can have allergies since its spring right now, or do you recommend i see a vet?

  6. Ashley says:

    Do hamsters get a period, if so how long does it last and how often does it come.

  7. Jennifer says:

    My hamster was fine yesterday. Today she seems very ill. When I talk to her she whines or squels back which she never does. She seems to be breathing fast, shakey and has a yellowish discharge. She is laying in her house with head stuck out the window and eyes closed. I have had the windows open the past few days with a breeze coming in, fed her a few celery leaves, and she may have fallen as her ladder was down in her cage and she was on lower level when I came home. She is walking fine. I cleaned her cage and she has plenty of water. I placed her in a warm dark room for tonight where its quiet so she can sleep. She is about 2 years old. I am concerned.

    • admin says:

      It’s hard to tell what the problem is but you are doing all the things I would do. It sounds like a virus but i’m not sure. Keep it warm and comfy in a quiet room and make sure it drinks some water. You can always try calling vet for advice or a professional diagnosis. Hope she feels better soon.

  8. abigail mckee says:

    I have a female dwarf hamster. She has been a year old since Christmas. When I got up today, I noticed that she has a runny nose. Last night, I heard a small very small coughing noise. When I get her out, she doesn’t move. It looks like she sleeps. She also hasn’t been drinking as much. Should I take an eyedropper and give her water to her like that? Does she have a cold? My sister has had a cold for about a week now, so could she have gotten it from her? Note: My sister doesn’t hold my hamster, only I do. What could be wrong with her?

    • admin says:

      it sounds like a cold. i would follow the steps on treating a sick hamster and also look at this post on hamster colds. germs get in the air and you should try to keep sick people out of the hamster’s room if possible. it’s not your sisters fault thou. If you don’t see your hamster drinking, you might try a water dropper. It’s important to get it hydrated.

    • anna says:

      my hamster is acting the same however she is also very slow hobbling around like an old lady. she knows what she wants but is also very weak on one side im wondering whether she has had a stroke or even worse has knocked herself out as one of her habits is to monkey bar the roof of her cage and let go.!! i took her out the cage last night and she tended to turn round in slow circles. the rest of her appearance is normal. what do you think??

      • admin says:

        She may have hurt herself when she fell, you might need to see if she can heal on her own. If it was a stroke, there is little you can do to treat that. I would call a vet and a see what they recommend. I would make sure you have nice soft bedding in your cage so your hamster has a comfy place to walk on.

  9. Chrsitina says:

    Hi there I have a Russian dwarf hamster who is about two years old, recently she had a cut on her nose that got infected. I took her to the vet and after a series of injections the swelling went down and she seemed to be doing well for three weeks. Today I noticed her one pouch is blocked and her face is very wet and icky I messaged a bit of food out of her pouch like the vet said I should do in case of an impacted pouch and I immediately smelt an awful rotting flesh smell, she’s lost so much weight she’s practically just skin and bone, tomorrow I’m going to try giving her the unsweetened plain yogurt and have temporarily moved her cage away from the other hamster in case it is contagious. Her mouth inside is black and horrid is there hope for her and what can I do to keep her a bit healthier if not. I can’t afford to take her to the vet again so soon :(

  10. Judy says:

    My hamster has a swollen and discolored abdomen. She is also dragging her hind legs. She seems to be having difficulty breathing and is staying in one corner of her cage(fish tank). This seems to have come on very quickly (she was fine yesterday). I am concerned however, because she did fall recently. Could you give me some advice?

    • admin says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your hamster. try reading this post on hamster hind limb problems. A fall could mean it hurt its back but there are other reasons for hind limb issues. discolored abdomen and hind limb issues could be a digestive problem. It could have a gut impaction from eating too much of something. I would call a vet and see what they might suggest. It’s hard to diagnose the problem over the Internet. hope she gets better.

  11. LIZ says:


    • admin says:

      It could be a lot of things but it sounds like the flu. You should follow these steps on treating a sick hamster. More than anything, you need to keep it hydrated. If you have to, use a water dropper to get some water down. Think about calling a vet if your little pet doesn’t start drinking soon.

  12. Mickay says:

    Hi. My hamster was preg. and gave birth to cute pups. :D but today, one of the baby hams. has a wound on its neck. the baby hams. is 3 or 4 wks. old. HELP! idontknow what to do.

    • admin says:

      Hmm? for starters, I would read this post on raising a baby hamster. the wound could be a scratch mark or a bite but it’s hard to tell. You have to be careful when treating babies because early on, if you handle them, the mother might get stressed and end up killing her babies. You might want to consult a vet if the wound doesn’t heal on it’s own.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Our hamster seems sick. It isn’t eating much and it is lethargic. When I pit it in its’ ball it seemed just to fall around on it’s side-kind of going in circles. This is very unlike him. He is normally very active and loves to be in his ball. He has one eye that looks a little matted. Do you think this is a cold or something more serious?

    • admin says:

      It’s hard to tell but to make it feel more comfortable, see this post on treating a sick hamster. It’s all about giving him a low stress environment for him to fight off an illness. If he doesn’t get better in a week, you should consult a vet. Keep him hydrated.

  14. jill says:

    my hamsters butt is bloody its never don that before what is wrong

    • admin says:

      Is the blood in the stool of your hamster or is there a some sort of cut in/on its backside. Blood in the stool can be a sign of a serious problem but some blood on the backside might not be as serious. I would clean up your little pet and observe it. If the condition doesn’t get better soon, call a vet and ask them for an opinion.

  15. ashley says:

    my hamster was chewing on the bars of her cage and I just touched her nose to make her stop. when she dropped down and I looked at her she looked like she had hurt her mouth and her nose was bleeding. what could have happened?? could she have broken her teeth?? I did look and her teeth are fine but after when she went to eat she would only eat the soft peanuts. will she be able to eat if its her mouth that she hurt?? How long will it take for an injury involving the mouth and nose to recover?? I feel so bad for it. I need to know she’ll be ok

    • admin says:

      Just like humans, hamsters can easily get nose bleeds. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself, it’s not like you hit her. Her teeth are probably sensitive right now and need to rest. Give her some time to heal and in the mean time, feed her soft foods that won’t hurt.

  16. gary hester says:

    my hamster fell down from my second floor to my first,at first we thought she was dead but when i went to pick her up she moved around and now she seems fine just there anyting i should look for to see if she has broken bones or anything? i am very scared she is dying,

    • admin says:

      That’s is a big fall and it is possible that your hamster sustained an injury. You might also have gotten really lucky though too. Check to see if it is limping or has trouble breathing. these are signs of a broken leg or rib. Also check to see if there is any blood coming out of its mouth, ears or eyes. Additionally check to see if there is blood in the urine or poop. These are all signs of an internal injury. lastly, if your hamster appears aggressive, that is a defense mechanism and might have an injury.

      If something is wrong, call around to find a vet that can treat your hamster. They might be able to offer you some solutions and also pain medication to help relieve any pain it might have. What you can do to help her is to remove the exercise equipment, confine her to one level of her cage and make things nice and soft for her so she is comfortable.

      Going forward, avoid falls by blocking off gaps and stairways. Also don’t let your little hamster run freely in areas that you can’t hamster proof. I hope your pet is alright

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