Common Hamster Illness: Diseases, Symptoms, And Remedies

by Hamster Care

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.

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

Knowing as much as possible about hamster health problems 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 make them better. And also knowing when it is already essential to ask a pet doctor’s help.

Common hamster illness and hamster disease

Like humans, there are a lot of health problems that can affect our pet hamsters. Because I believe that 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 that you shouldn’t ignore below, but please note that this article is not a replacement for a vet consultation. You should definitely seek professional help if you think that your pet hamsters are really sick.


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 from playing may become infected by bacteria which can result in an abscess, which is 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 as a result of pus build-up. You might hear your hamster squeak to let you know that 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.

However, if you don’t have funds readily available for a visit to a vet or currently don’t have the free time right away, 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

Normally, hamsters use their cheek pouch to store food. However, out of instinct, they will also store beddings 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 problems. But don’t worry, it’s possible to cure.


When you notice that one of your hamster’s cheek pouch 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 likes – basically food that will spoil or rot easily. Also, always inspect your hamsters’ beddings or toys to make sure 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, dust, or if they catch a bacterial infection, their lungs might react severely. 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, their body temperature may drastically drop and of course, their energy level will be significantly low. Your hamster might be shaking when having this problem.

Home remedy

To relieve the symptoms, put some crushed thyme leaves in a small container and place it 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 from your hamsters.

Fur loss

Though old age can result in fur loss, skin conditions and other types of infection can also affect the hair growth of your pet hamsters’. One of the most common reasons for skin irritation among hamsters 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 talk about 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.


Excessive scratching can cause your fur baby’s hair to fall. When they do this frequently, it can result in hair loss, which will expose 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 that 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 that there are no parasites left on the pen before replacing the bedding. Also, you can 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 veterinary because it might be a different skin disease or if it doesn’t seem to get better.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrom 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 as a result of old age or skin diseases. It can also be mistaken for diabetes because of similar symptoms.

However, if 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, then chances are, your hamsters might have a Cushing’s syndrome.

Your hamster may also develop joint and bone problems which will eventually affect your pet’s movements.

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 on how to best 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

A 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:

  • handling your hamster too often
  • when the environment is changed
  • when the diet or food has been changed suddenly
  • filthy cages
  • a cage that is too small
  • separated from siblings and mother too early
  • unclean bedding or change of bedding

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, but this 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 their 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, it’s time to see a vet as soon as you can,


This one is a very common illness for a hamster and is often overlooked because of its location. Bumblefoot 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 sole. 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 cage, stairs, and a hamster wheel. Some people build playpens for their hamsters using legos which is a very bad idea because of their shapes. If a human hurt themselves stepping on legos, imagine how it’s like for hamster and their tiny feet.


If your hamster is suffering from bumblefoot, they walk slower or they 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 ointment 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 instead right away.


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 so 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.

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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