Syrian hamsters can all potentially carry the wet tail bacteria, usually this is kept under control but under stress the bacteria can overwhelm the system causing the hamster to become lethargic, suffer from a wet bottom area/diarrhoea and loss of appetite, a strong unpleasant smell is often present. It’s important to always get to know what’s normal for your hamster, any deviation from that should be investigated as soon as you spot them behaving out of character.
Signs to look for
Spending more time sleeping
Ears are always folded down
Not touching food or treats
Mess on the bedding
You MUST take your hamster to a vet as soon as you spot these symptoms as wet tail is a fast acting killer. Your vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics (baytril) and a protein supplement. I cannot stress how important it is to consult a professional vet, you CAN NOT cure your hamster using pet shop bought medicine.
Over Grown Claws
Sometimes claws become overgrown and need to be trimmed. Unless you are confident you can successfully attempt to do this yourself it is best to ask your local vet to do this for you. If the claws are not seriously long allowing your hamster to run on very fine sandpaper or a course ceramic tile for a short time may help wear them down, this should be done under close supervision as not to cause harm to the feet.
Hamster’s teeth grow continually and wood chews or dog biscuits should be provided to stop them overgrowing and causing problems. If your hamster stops eating and has a visibly sore mouth its time to consult a vet for a tooth trim.
Long haired (often referred to as Teddy bear) hamsters sometimes get knots or bits of bedding stuck in their coat. Never attempt to bath your hamster to remove these, take a sharp pair of scissors and carefully remove the offending item.
Brushing your hamster can help knots from forming so try to do this regularly.
Hamsters can contract Ringworm and Mange, symptoms include reddening of the skin and bald patches/general hair loss. These can be treated successfully by a vet. Do not confuse your hamster’s scent glands that he/she has on each hip as a bald patch, these are perfectly normal. Fleas are uncommon but are often a result of poor cage hygiene and can be treated with a small animal flea powder.
Hamsters can pick up human colds so never handle your pet if you have one. If your hamster appears to be snuffly provide plenty of bedding and keep him or her in a warm place.
If the room temperature drops below 10c/50f degrees your hamster may go into hibernation. This is basically a very deep sleep and it may appear that they have died as their whole body slows down. Gently warm your hamster to see if he appears more lively. NEVER do this in an oven or Microwave! The ideal temperature for your pet is around 68-78 degrees F.
Hamsters are odourless creatures, but poor cage cleaning can sometimes induce a pungent smell! Ideally try to clean your hamster’s whole cage weekly, if the smell persists try removing the litter around the toilet area daily. Some hamsters can be ‘toilet trained’ to wee in a small pot or dish making this easier. Sometimes you will see your pet wee on their food, this is rather distasteful to humans but actually softens hard food matter making it easier to digest.
A female may smell more than a male due to her heat cycle, this is a rather musty odour but is perfectly normal. A male may scent mark quite a bit in new surroundings, this also is normal.