Common Hamster Illness: Hamster diseases, symptoms, and remedies

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Being a hamster owner isn’t just all warm and fuzzies; it isn’t just about saying, ‘aww, they’re so cute, I’m gonna die!’, touching their gorgeous fur, laughing at their clumsy behaviour, or even taking videos of their eccentricities.

It goes beyond all that. Owning a pet hamster means being responsible. And what I mean when I say responsible, aside from obviously giving them the right food and maintaining their cages clean, is that we should be aware of their biology, psychology, and most importantly, the most common hamster illness.

One to cover is hamster’s health concern. Hamsters can be prone to many illnesses. Due to their size, it’s often hard to treat a hamster or find a vet specialising in hamsters. This is one of the things you should know before you get a hamster.

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Knowing as much as possible about hamster health concerns and diseases is one of the responsibilities we, pet owners, all share. And why should we be aware of these illnesses when we can leave them up to experts, i.e., veterinarians.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of common hamster ailments means being ready to take the necessary actions to improve them. And also knowing when it is already essential to ask for a pet doctor’s help.

DISCLAIMER: We are not vets, the information below are based on our experiences. We highly recommend you to contacy a licensed exotic pet doctor for any medical help regarding your pet hamster.

ALSO READ: Important facts about hamsters


You probably landed on this page because you’re worried that your heard that someone’s hamster died suddenly and you want to know if your fur baby is at risk.

Can hamsters be sick? Like humans, there are a lot of health problems that can affect our pet hamsters. Because I believe it’s vital that we, as their keeper, are aware of these illnesses and their symptoms, I’ve collated some of the most common hamster illnesses and the signs you shouldn’t ignore below.

But please note that this article is not a replacement for a vet consultation. You should seek professional help if you think your pet hamsters are really sick.

ALSO READ: Beginner’s guide to taking care of a hamster and hamster care sheet


Hamsters do play a lot when they’re active, and sometimes, the accessories in the cage, such as the hamster wheels, can wound them. Hamsters might also hurt each other accidentally or when they become aggressive and bite one another. Wounds from hamster fights or playing may become infected by bacteria which can result in an abscess, a common hamster illness.


Any part of a hamster’s body can get infected when wounded and when wounds become infected with bacteria, lumps may develop due to pus build-up. You might hear your hamster squeak to tell you they are not feeling well.

Home remedy

Thyme is said to have anti-bacterial properties that can help heal your hamsters’ wounds. All you need to do is to boil water, place a couple of fresh thyme sprigs in a mug, and pour the boiling water into it. Stir well.

You’ll know it’s ready when the water’s colour changes. When the tea is cold, soak a piece of paper towel in the thyme tea, and gently dab it on the wound and its surrounding area.

When it’s time to go to the vet

Generally speaking, when you see lumps on your hamsters’ bodies, you should immediately seek help from a veterinarian. The veterinarian may lance the wound to remove the pus and apply an antibiotic to the affected area. At this stage, you can also ask them for natural antibiotics for hamsters if you want.

However, suppose you don’t have funds readily available for a visit to a vet or currently don’t have the free time right away. In that case, you can temporarily apply thyme tea to your hamsters’ wounds and monitor if they’ll get any better. If it doesn’t, then you should definitely seek professional help.

Impacted Cheek Pouch

Typically, hamsters use their cheek pouch to store food. However, out of instinct, they will also store bedding to use as nesting materials when they’re building a nest for their babies.

Though not a harmful thing in and of itself, sometimes, they may accidentally stuff their cheek pouch with sharp objects or sticky foods that get stuck and rot.

An impacted cheek pouch is one of the most common hamster health issues. But don’t worry; it’s possible to cure.

ALSO READ: Best and healthy hamster food to choose from


When you notice that one of your hamster’s cheek pouches is abnormally swollen, then they are most probably affected by an impacted cheek pouch.

Home remedy

Avoid feeding your hamsters with sticky foods such as peanut butter, raisins, bread, and the like – basically food that will spoil or rot easily. Also, always inspect your hamsters’ beddings or toys to ensure that there are no sharp objects that could potentially puncture their cheek pouch. Do not attempt to remove the stuff from their cheek pouch because you might accidentally hurt your pet.

When its time to go to a vet

When you notice that your hamster is having a hard time emptying out their cheek pouches, then you’ll know that you’ll have to bring them to a vet so the stuff that makes their pouches swollen can be flushed out.

Respiratory problems

A hamster’s respiratory system is very sensitive. When irritated by strong scents such as scented beddings, perfumes, and dust, their lungs might react severely if they catch a bacterial infection. This is one of the most fatal hamster diseases that need immediate medical attention because it might kill a hamster in as fast as 24-48 hours if left untreated.


Symptoms of respiratory problems in hamsters include runny nose, laboured breathing and clicking sounds when breathing. Your hamster’s eyes may also be closed, its body temperature may drastically drop, and its energy level will be significantly low. Your hamster might be shaking when having this problem.

RELATED POST: Hamster eye infection

Home remedy

To relieve the symptoms, put some crushed thyme leaves in a small container and place them under your hamster’s nose. This aroma of the thyme leaves should help decongest your hamsters’ respiratory tract.

You should also give small amounts of thyme tea to your hamsters. Besides, gently massage your hamster and gently blow warm breaths to its body to help its body temperature to rise.

When it’s time to go to the vet

As mentioned, respiratory problems can be fatal to hamsters in as little as 1 to 2 days. If at all possible, consult a veterinarian when you notice any symptoms of respiratory illness in your hamsters.

Fur Loss

Though old age can result in fur loss, skin conditions and other types of infection can also affect your pet hamsters’ hair growth. One of hamsters’ most common reasons for skin irritation is mite infection. This is caused by using mite-infested beddings. Another reason for fur loss among hamsters is Cushing’s Syndrome, which we’ll discuss later.

A hamster that is biting the bar of its cage can also experience fur loss on the bridge of its nose. You can read our article about hamsters losing hair.

ALSO READ: How to safely stop your hamster from chewing bar cage


Excessive scratching can cause your fur baby’s hair to fall. When they do this frequently, it can result in hair loss, exposing their skin. You may notice that the exposed skin is red, due to the irritation. The most common body part of hamsters that usually get infected is their underside or their legs.

Home remedy

If you think the bedding may be infested with parasites that could irritate your hamsters’ skin, try replacing the brand of bedding you are using. Make sure to thoroughly clean their cage to ensure no parasites are left on the pen before replacing the bedding.

Also, you can use aloe vera gel to soothe your hamsters’ irritated skin. You can also add carrots to their meal because Vitamin A helps promote the healthy growth of fur. Other sources of Vitamin A are milk products such as cheese.

When it’s time to go to the vet

After replacing the bedding and the symptoms persist, definitely seek help from a licensed veterinarian because it might be a different skin disease or if it doesn’t seem to get better.

ALSO READ: Taking care of an elderly hamster; how to look after a senior hamster

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is a disease that affects the adrenal gland’s production of cortisol (a hormone that helps regulate several bodily functions, such as blood sugar, metabolism, blood pressure, and even stress response).

Usually, the cause of Cushing’s Syndrome is a tumour growing either in the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland itself.


Cushing’s Syndrome, also known as Cushing’s disease, can be hard to detect early on because its initial symptoms include hair loss, which might be mistaken due to old age or skin diseases. It can also be mistaken for diabetes because of similar symptoms.

However, suppose the exposed skin of your hamster doesn’t appear to be irritated but is visibly dry, coupled with several other symptoms such as increased frequency of drinking water and urination, weight loss, as well as muscle atrophy.

In that case, chances are, your hamster might have a Cushing’s syndrome.

Your hamster may also develop joint and bone problems, eventually affecting your pet’s movements.

MUST-READ: Why is my hamster not moving

Home remedy

There is no known cure for Cushing’s syndrome in hamsters. Though there are several natural remedies that some hamster owners have tried when their hamsters’ have been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome.

Some claim that their pets’ health improved note that there are not many studies conducted on natural remedies for treating this disease. The best that you can do is to give your hamster the best environment where he/she can live as comfortably as possible. You may want to apply skin cream to soothe their dry skin.

When it’s time to go to the vet

When you notice the symptoms mentioned above, it is best to consult a vet. Knowing exactly what type of hamster illness will help inform you how best to handle your beloved pets. Though Cushing’s syndrome in hamsters is untreatable, you can still provide them with tender loving care for the rest of their lives.

Wet Tail

wet tail hamster disease that targets the intestines which often caused by bacteria, although it is also related to stress illness that causes the following:

This is a very fatal hamster illness that can escalate in 48 hours, so it is recommended to see a vet right away.


The most common symptom is severe diarrhoea, and the hamster’s rear end is often wet, dirty, and smells. The poop is often soft or too wet. You will also notice your hamster being lazy and sleeping a lot, and hunched over when walking.

We have an article about hamster wet tail discussing everything you need to know.

Home remedies

If the symptom is light, like diarrhoea, you can get a medicine called Kaomix or Kaolin and give your hamster 1-2 drops. The most common medicine for the wet tail is antibiotics, which is best administered by the vet, or you must consult one before handing it to your hamster.

Don’t attempt to give your hamster an antibiotic. Due to its size, the dose is very sensitive, and only a trained vet can provide it correctly.

When it’s time to go to the vet

When your hamster lost its appetite and energy together with a moist and dirty rear end. How to help a sick hamster? It’s time to see a vet as soon as you can.

Bumble Foot

This one is a very common illness for a hamster and is often overlooked because of its location. Bumblefoot in hamsters is when one or both feet become swell, reddish, and even bleeding. They are easy to identify if you inspect your hamster’s feet and soles.

It looks callous (like on your toes or fingers), but it’s more pinkish or very red, it’s obviously swelling and kind of soft if you spot it early.

The cause of this illness is when your hamster walks on uneven/rough flooring like mesh floors and wired stairs. This is why we only recommend solid flooring (smooth/flat) hamster cages, stairs, and a hamster wheel. Some people build playpens for their hamsters using legos which is a terrible idea because of their shapes.

If a human hurts themselves stepping on legos, imagine what it’s like for a hamster and their tiny feet.


If your hamster is suffering from bumblefoot, they walk slower, or it appear to be limping. They may also be in a bad mood due to the pain. You will notice redness and swelling on your hamster feet very easily.

Home Remedy

You can start treating your hamster’s bumblefoot with saline rinsing and antibiotic ointment. However, we recommend you visit 2-3 pet stores first, they often know which cream to recommend, but if you are still unsure which one to use, it’s best to speak to a vet.

Clean with saline and apply ointment 1-2 times a day (morning, then evening) or depending on the pet store’s advice. If you don’t see any improvement in 3-5 days, it’s time to see a vet.

When it’s time to go to the vet

As mentioned before, if the home remedy doesn’t work, it is best to bring your hamster to an expert veterinarian immediately.


There are other illnesses hamsters suffer, such as stargazing and ear infections, where hamsters run in circles. Some of these health issues are caused by bad breeding.

These are some of the most common hamster diseases and symptoms. I personally encourage you to check out other resources online, such as websites, forums, and YouTube videos about hamster illnesses. Hence, you are better equipped to take care of your hamster.

If you have questions, suggestions, or if you want to add more or simply want to share your personal experience around hamster diseases, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below.


Common health issues in hamsters include respiratory infections, dental problems, wet tail (diarrhea), mites, and tumors. Regular vet check-ups, proper diet, clean habitat, and handling with care can help prevent and address these issues. via @thehamstercareblog

3 thoughts on “Common Hamster Illness: Hamster diseases, symptoms, and remedies”

  1. Hi, thanks for your useful articles. I have a Campbell hamster, and on hers skin at first there were some bulging white seeds that would be scratched later, the skin of those seeds would be peeled off and he would bleed a little bit (in small amounts, like a dried wound).
    I took it to the doctor and the doctor wrote her a booster syrup and ointment. It’s much better, but sometimes new white beans come out and I give it back. i want to know what those white seeds are because the doctor couldn’t see them

    • Hi Dila, is it possible that they are mites? Of course, the vet would know better, perhaps when the “white seeds” show up again, make sure to take her to the vet so they can assess it better?

      In case they are mites, make sure that you freeze the bedding before using it to kill bugs. When it comes to the sand baths, you can bake them first to kill bugs too.


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