Hamster Illness Guide

Hamsters have a lifespan of two to three years but some have been known to live up to four years or longer due to exceptional hamster care and a bit of luck. During a hamster’s life, like all living things, it can become ill, sick or injured from various ailments or accidents. With proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a sick hamster, you can hope for your little pet to be fortunate enough to live a long (in hamster years) and happy life.
Caring for a Sick Hamster

Hamster Illnesses Directory

Some of the common ailments that can affect a hamster’s health include to name a few: bar rub, colds, cuts, dehydration, dry ears and skin, bad falls, hip spots, kinked tails, lumps and bumps, problems with nails, odd noises, bad smell, strokes, teeth issues, thinning fur, behavior problems, urine color change, weight loss, mites or fungal infestations. Read more…

Prevent Hamster Illness

The best treatment of hamster illnesses is to prevent them from ever happening. If you can provide a healthy diet, plenty of fresh water, and a good exercise regimen, your hamsters will in turn be healthier and less likely to succumb to an illness. It’s also important to keep a clean and comfortable living space for them. Read more…

Signs and Symptoms of a Sick Hamster

In order to determine is your hamster is sick with an illness, you must first observe its behavior. If the hamster’s behavior is off from what it normally is, that a sure sign something might be wrong with your little pet. Check how it acts and interacts with you or other hamsters. Another thing to observe is to check its body for physical signs of injuries or illnesses. Read more…


Most Common Hamster Illnesses

Hamsters don’t often get sick in their 2 to 3-year lifespan but on occasion, they can contract an illness if their owners don’t fully understand how to prevent illnesses that are most common. Even then, it can still be beyond your control to keep your pet healthy. Genetics and environmental factors can come into play that can make a hamster more susceptible to illness.

While there isn’t much you can do about your hamster’s genetics, you can minimize your chances of owning an unlucky hamster if you only purchase your pets through reputable breeders or quality pet stores. Environmental factors on the other hand can be improved to help keep your hamsters from falling ill from any of the following common issues. Read about how you can treat a sick hamster.

6 Common Illnesses

  1. Wet Tail Disease
  2. Fungus Infections
  3. Lip Scabs
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Cold Virus
  6. Mites Infestation

Wet Tail Disease: Much like diarrhea, wet tail disease involves a wet backside. It often occurs in young and baby hamsters and requires immediate treatment. A weakened immune system from stress caused by a separation from their mothers or poor food quality are the cause of this.

You can try this effective diarerrha treatment

Fungal Infections: With similar symptoms to mites, a fungal infection will make the skin itchy, red and scaly. Again a trip to the vet will be necessary. In regards to pet fungus infections, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your infected hamsters or anything in their hamster habitat.

Try this effective fungus treatment

Lip Scabs: lip scabs on a hamster’s mouth are another form of fungi or bacteria infections. Hamsters with a weakened immune system through poor hamster care and a substandard living arrangement are more susceptible to this condition. Often it’s a vitamin deficiency in their diet.

Read more about specific illnesses and injuries and their proper treatment in the directory of hamster illness.


Diarrhea: If your hamster has a wet bottom and its stools are runny, it likely has diarrhea. Unlike in humans, this is a very serious condition for hamsters. Get them to the vet immediately for treatment and make sure the sick hamster drinks enough water. It’s often caused by poor quality fresh food or something they should not have chewed on.
Cold Virus: If you hamster is sneezing, wheezing or has a runny nose, your hamster likely has a cold. Try a heat treatment (discussed in Treat a Sick Hamster.) and strongly consider a trip to the vet.
Mites Infestation: If the coat of your hamster is disheveled, patchy or falling out, your hamster might have mites. Comb the fur and look for this tiny parasite with a magnifying glass. Parasites often attack hamsters that already have a low immune system. Prevent this by following the prevention tips we offer. A trip to the vet will be needed to get the proper sprays. Never try to use home remedies for this.

Pet Care GuidesHamster Guide

Reviewed By: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has a strong affection for pets and wildlife. His years of experience caring for various types of pets has led him to share his knowledge with others on the best practices in pet care. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.

34 thoughts on “Hamster Illness Guide”

  1. My hamster has recently been unable to open his eyes and I took him out today and he could walk but he had his head turned and walked in circles. He wouldn’t even try to walk straight. My mom thinks he is dying. What do I do?

    • that sounds like a stroke. I read somewhere that some of the signs are a head tilt, walking in circles,and his head staying turned. I would get him to an excotic vet and see what he can do. It said they can survive the stroke but it takes a LOT of help from his owners, You.

  2. Looking for guidance. Our male winter white hamster has a swollen bottom for over a week now. The fur in this area is gone. More than a week ago, the swells were as big as blueberries, and now the size has receded a bit but still doesn’t look normal. The male hamster looks much less active the past few days even though he was behaving ‘in heat’ 1-2 days after the female hamster gave birth.

    Same hamster looks more scruffy the past week since our female hamster gave birth to 5 pups. He seems to have a wound on his underside (I thought it was the navel). Tried to put iodine or a pet wound spray but the bald area around the scab looks like it’s spreading.

    Thank you for your advice.

    Any idea if these two things should be a serious concern?

  3. I just got my hamster today she’s a female robo hamster, she lively, when I put her in the cage and changed the location of it I noticed her tail was wet.. I wasn’t sure if it’s because of the water, or pee, but I’m really scared that she might have a wet tail.. she seems to be sitting in the wheel. But she’s moving around and her cheeks r filled with food! Do u think she has wet tail?

  4. Please help! I had gotten 2 hamsters about 2 weeks ago named ginger and precious for my brothers. They had both seatled fairly well and were both very playful and happy but now ginger is biting a lot she’s barely eating and drinking but has quite a bit of poop in her cage. She’s also shaking when we take her out of her cage to clean it or play with her. She doesn’t really bite me at all she only bit me twice in the beginning when she was seatling in, but she is biteing everyone else. I’m not really sure what’s wrong with or what to do.

  5. Pls help me my hamster prince was a running and happy hamster but we recently moved and now he looks swollen and doesn’t want to move around and when he do he seems to b rolling over and limp on his right side just yesterday he was running in his ball but today as if he dying

  6. Hi, I’ve had my Syrian for just over a month and he’s settled in nicely however sometimes he stands on his back legs arms relaxed and ‘shakes’ like he’s cold but it’s always a nice temp in my flat but also noticed tonight there was a lot of poo in his tubes as he’s now buried his food and bedding in them and there was a yellowy liquid in the tube – this was the same a few weeks ago on my kitchen floor when he was going around in his ball
    Is he ok? What could it be? He has a small bowl of hamster musli every day and fresh water and seems ok otherwise

  7. breathing normal but when approaching the cage and gently touch her she barely moved and there was a sourish smell coming from her bedding area. We have placed a small towel in the area because I thought maybe her temperature had dropped, but I have never smelt a sour smell before. What could this possibly be and what should we do? Shes also breathing funny and doesnt do much


  8. My daughter has a lovely lively and lovable little dwarf hamster who is about 6 months old. He has, what looks like, a small opening in his stomach of about 3-4mm. It does not seem to bother him and is not either red or inflamed, however it does not seem to be ‘normal’ and we can find no pictures on the internet that correspond to this. He has had this since we got him when he was about 6 weeks old.

    Any ideas what it might be and whether we should take him to a vet?

    • Any opening in your hamsters body should be addressed immediately by your vet. It could be a hernia, an open wound from an attack prior to your getting him, or a scratch from a sharp object. Whatever, it can easily get infected. Visit your vet.

  9. My hamster tends to be very active through out the night. When we put fresh food in her bowl she tends to get excited and hiding it. Innthese last 2 day I changed her food she hasn’t touched it or hidden it and she isn’t playing as much she wants to sleep more and just eat fresh fruits and veggies what should I do? I have a fancy hamster

    • Please learn from our misfortune….whenever anything is a bit off like that,please find a vet that is good with small animals; not all are. We took our Golden Hamster in to a vet, who was supposed to be good with small animals.The younger vets in that practice were GREAT with our HamHam; the founding vet not only did not get himout of the cage till prompted by his PA, but laid 1 finger on HamHam, said it was a vitamin B deficiency (DID no EXAM; WHICH THERE ARE 25 THINGS YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR HAMSTER FOR WEEKLY – there is a list and instructions on how to complete the check on HAMSTER CENTRAL, that the Vet did not even do…HamHam died with me giving him mouth to mouth & CPR less than 20 HOURS later. His only symptom: He froze up, when normally would come right away. It resembled a silent seizure. Golden Syrian hamsters are the most delicate constitutionally- they become ill easily; something we did not learn until it was too late.

  10. My fancy hamster Darwin has a big knot on his arm and has a spot of fur gone with a hole on his skin. Im not sure if its because he got a scratch from the cats all though the cats don’t go in the bed room or its his skin stretching out because his pouches are full and he eats a lot. I’m pretty scared some one please help me out….

  11. I have a Chinese dwarf hamster he usually sleeps during the day ,last night I cleaned out his cage played with him all new food and water and it’s now the next afternoon and he has not stopped running in his wheel ! His bed is untouched but, he is still eating and pooping just in his wheel ,is this behaviour normal ? My son has had him for 6 months so we are pretty comfortable with his routine and he’s never up during the day and never in his wheel this long ?

    • I have two Robo dwarf hamster and they are nuts about either being in a ball on a stand or going on their wheel. Spencer will go at least all night on his wheel, and Victoria Hugo – now about 2yrs and slowing down – used to start at dawn until midday. She’d be put back in her habitat, run around, sip of water, then go into paroxyms until I put her back in the ball. On many an occasion her session would last 12 hours. She used the ball (medium sized) as her boudoir, for eating in (I would give her half a treat at the start, half at the end), washing, sleeping. Dwarf hamsters apparently can go 100km in one session. So from the sounds of it he’s enjoying life.

  12. My son’s hamster has not really a “bald” bottom but shaved. We think it’s a she, hopefully it is because we were thinking that if so, we think she might be prengnant. Otherwise we think he/she might be sick. plz help.

    • If he’s inside, perfectly normal. iI he is outside I’d have the hamster checked. If he’s brand new to your home, give him a couple of days, quiet days, to let him settle in.It will help him feel more secure. Then, gradually expose him to more contact. Just like people, each hamster has his/her own personalities; some more outgoing & adventurous than others.

  13. My hamster became too aggressive last night. He was running, jumping and biting all t the stuff he can reach. He was never like this before. Could you please help me understand what’s going on with him?

  14. My son’s hamster was acting fine earlier today and we had their bedroom window open until recently and when going into their room their hamster was still and breathing normal but when approaching the cage and gently touch g her she barely moved and there was a sourish smell coming from her bedding area. We have placed a small towel in the area because I thought maybe her temperature had dropped, but I have never smelt a sour smell before. What could this possibly be and what should we do?

  15. My hamsters seems to have a hunched back which is hard when you touch it. Is not eating much at all either, what do you think the problem is?

    • it’s really hard to say what the issue is based on that. however, your hamster needs to continue to eat and drink. what other signs can you observe?

  16. My daughters hamster is only turning her head towards one side and is flipping upside down could she be injured because others have touched and played with her, without her being at home. Is it possible that they hurt her back and that’s why her neck is turning one side and she is flipping upside down and not moving the same?

    • It sounds like that could be the result of a spine injury or some type of nerve damage. It could also be a genetic defect or a type of mental illness. Sometimes a hamster in a cage that is too small with little to keep them stimulated can bring on odd behaviors like this as well. Not being a veterinarian myself, I can’t say for certain what is causing your daughter’s hamster from acting like that. I recommend contacting a vet. In the meantime you should make sure it can’t hurt itself by falling off any levels or objects in its cage.

  17. My hamster is very active and has been attacked many times by big dwarf hamsters in the shop where I bought it it keeps climbing up and down the cage and falling from the top to the ground below, its teeth are very long and its spine seems to be injured it’s foot seems to be mutated or have an extra toe ,I am very worried and think that it is the runt of the litter, I am a responsible pet owner and it was like this when I bought it, it is still a baby but I’m not too sure how old . I don’t know what to do.

    • You might consider a trip to the vet. You can also make sure that even if it climbs and falls, that it always has a soft place to land on.


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