The first thing you should do before adopting your Syrian hamster is to find a veterinarian in your community who has experience treating sick and healthy hamsters. Hamsters don’t fall ill often, but giving them no treatment or the wrong treatment can mean life or death.
Amy Everly, a vet student of Ames, Iowa, is always on the lookout for sick hamsters. The manager of a pet store once asked her to look at a Syrian that a customer returned.
“The hamster’s feet, belly and testicles were all red and inflamed,” Everly said. “I took him home immediately and into the clinic the next day. The inflamed areas on Sweet Pea were actually burns. We eventually decided Sweet Pea had walked through a puddle of some kind of toxic chemical such as bleach. The burns were so severe that we put him on a pain killer as well as antibiotics. Every day, Sweet Pea had to walk over a soggy towel to soften up the peeling skin on his feet and belly. Sweet Pea eventually lost a few toes on each foot, but he made a full recovery otherwise,” she said.
Don’t be afraid to call around to find a knowledgeable hamster veterinarian. Ask to speak to the veterinarian directly. Find out if he or she has seen hamsters recently, and what kind of hamster problems he or she has treated.
Some common health ailments in Syrian hamsters include:
• wheel wounds
• footpad sores
• bite wounds (for pups, or adults mistakenly housed together)
• fur loss
If you can’t find a vet in your community with hamster experience, see if you can find one who is willing to do research on appropriate medications and treatment for a hamster. A good vet who is willing to learn can be an excellent partner in caring for your sick hamster.
For more information on sick hamsters, visit our Hamster Health Center.
Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Hamsters here.