Scratching Hamster Has Bumps On Skin

What would cause small bumps on a hamster’s skin?

two dwarf hamsters in bedding
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
If hamsters have ectoparasites, both the hamsters and their environment must be treated.

Q: My red-eyed, Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamster, Izzy, is about 3 to 4 months old. We have had her for about a month and a half. Approximately three weeks ago, I felt small bumps on her skin that felt like scratch marks. I can’t see them because she doesn’t sit still. All I can tell is that the skin appears red through the fur. I haven’t seen any blood and she seems fine, but she has been scratching herself a lot since Day 1 that we saw her. A veterinarian at a reputable pet shop checked her out and said she’s in good health. So, was I right that she may just be scratching too much in one place? Or could it be more serious? She lives alone in her cage. What can/should we do about this?

A: If you have had a veterinarian who understands hamster diseases proclaim your hamster to be healthy, that is a great start. If this veterinarian observed exactly what you observed and did not believe these bumps were a problem, you may want to either get another opinion or continue to watch the bumps to see if more develop or they become larger or more numerous. 

Many times, owners will catch the early signs of disease, and at first there does not seem to be a reason to be alarmed. But as the disease progresses, then it becomes obvious the signs represent a process that needs medical attention. 

In hamsters, one of the most common causes of skin irritation is an infestation with ectoparasites. These little insects can cause your hamster to have irritation and itchiness. These parasites are best treated in a two-stage process. First, hamster-safe medication must be given to your hamster to control the adult insects on your pet. Then the environment in which your hamster lives needs to be cleaned and possibly treated to kill any adults and eggs that can be in the cage and other areas of your home that your hamster visits.

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Critters · Hamsters