Syrian Hamster Health
As with all animals, there are some common health problems that Syrian hamsters may suffer from. If you have any concerns, always go direct to your vet.
The weekly health check
Get into the habit of examining your pet carefully every week. It's a good idea to weigh him too. Make this a regular thing and you'll bond better with your pets. And you'll catch any problems early - your Syrian hamster is nocturnal, so health issues might not be so easy to spot.
General - check that your Syrian hamster's behaviour is normal - active and playful in the evening. Gauge how they walk, looking for limping, or signs of pain. A sick pet will be irritable and may bite more frequently.
Mouth and nose - the nose should be clean and dry - sneezing and runny nose are signs of cold or flu. Check to ensure that your pet's teeth haven't grown too long. See whether they're misaligned or chipped. Losing weight and loss of appetite could be a sign of dental problems.
Eyes - they should be bright, and not runny or watery - this could be a sign of an allergy or a cold.
Cheeks - check for lumps in the cheeks which may feel like an abscess. It is likely to be an impacted cheek pouch. The lump may be so large it may force the eye to close. The pouch will need to be emptied and rinsed, which can only be done by a vet.
Fur - check for patches of hair loss, which could be the result of rubbing against the cage or fur chewing. This can be a sign of boredom or the result of abrasive bedding. Hair loss is also linked to protein deficiency. Check for signs of itching combined with any hair loss - this could be a symptom of parasites or ringworm.
Nails - like their teeth, a Syrian hamster's nails grow continuously. Playing with wooden toys will keep them short, but check to make sure they're not overgrown. If they are, your vet will clip them safely.
Common health problems
Diarrhoea - Syrian hamsters are susceptible to diarrhoea, which can be caused by feeding too much green food, fruit or stress. Although fresh greens are important - if you don't feed enough your pet will become constipated - try and make sure the bulk of the diet is a good quality complete food, such as Supahamster Hamster Harvest.
Wet Tail - this is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea, and is mostly seen in young Syrian hamsters. It is characterised by a stickiness of the bottom and tail area, and your pet may appear as though it has stomach ache, by hunching itself up. Wet Tail is highly contagious so ensure you wash your hands and clean out the cage thoroughly.
Dental problems - as with all rodents, Syrian hamsters' teeth grow continuously, and can become overgrown unless care is taken to keep them ground down. Provide gnaw blocks, gnaw sticks or wooden toys for your pet to chew on. Try Excel Gnaw Sticks, which are great for good dental health.
Because of their small size, a Syrian hamster's health can quickly deteriorate if he becomes poorly. Urgent treatment by a vet must be sought if your pet displays any signs of being unwell.