Just like any other small pet, hamsters are susceptible to a number of health conditions. Due to their small size, illness in a hamster can be a fairly serious occurrence. To help care for your hamster during an illness, it’s important to be familiar with some of the most common health conditions that appear in pet hamsters.
Wet Tail: This health condition is caused by a bacterial organism that infiltrates a hamster’s digestive system. In this illness, the most common symptom will be a “wet” appearance of the fur around a hamster’s tail, which is where this condition gets its name. A hamster with wet tail has a low chance of survival, since they often become extremely dehydrated by the constant diarrhea associated with wet tail. Hydration is essential for hamsters with wet tail, and there are also many wet tail supplements available at pet care supply stores.
Ear Infection: If your hamster develops an ear infection, the best treatment usually involves the direct administration of antibiotics. However, as with most other illnesses that affect hamsters, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before beginning treatment.
Ringworm: Ringworm is extremely contagious, especially if you have several hamsters housed in the same cage. Quarantine any hamsters infected with ringworm as soon as possible, and watch for signs of infection in your other hamsters. The main symptom is a circular “ring” of missing fur which will be easily visible. To treat ringworm, it’s best if you consult your veterinarian.
Abscesses: To treat an abscess, antibiotics are usually very effective. An abscess is caused when a wound becomes infected, and is sealed without proper drainage of the infected material. Do not attempt to drain an abscess on your hamster by yourself! This may result in further infection, as well as extreme discomfort for your hamster.
Constipation: Just like humans, hamsters can also suffer from constipation. The most common cause of constipation in hamsters is dehydration, in combination with a dry pellet diet. To help cure constipation, be sure that your hamster has a constant supply of fresh water. In addition to this, you can feed your hamster fresh fruits and vegetables with a high moisture and fiber content, which may help cure constipation.
Mange: Though mange is usually not very common in hamsters, it still may occur in hamsters that have been taken from unclean living conditions. Mange is caused by a mite that usually lives in a hamster’s bedding material. If you hamster comes down with mange, put them in quarantine immediately.