Unfortunately hamsters can't speak, and we're often too late to notice their illness. To prevent this, you should monitor the appearance and behavior of your furry companion every day. There is a certain amount of things you should look out for.
Signs of a healthy hamster:
- the hamster is alert and responsive,
- it is usually active during the night and sleeps during the day,
- it eats and drinks regularly,
- it is easy to handle but may nip if suddenly awakened from a nap or startled,
- the fur looks clean and healthy,
- the eyes are clear,
- the hamster breaths clearly and walks normally,
- there is neither sneezing nor coughing,
- the hamster chews on chew sticks to maintain incisor teeth.
Keep an eye out for the following conditions:
If you notice anything of the above, it means your hamster is not doing well and you should take him to an exotic animal veterinarian as soon as possible so that he can make a diagnosis and prescribe necessary treatment. While it's only the veterinarian who should make a diagnosis, you should be aware of the most common health problems seen in hamsters. These include diabetes (the signs are frequent urination and lethargy), diarrhea (loose stools caused by poor diet, stress, internal parasites, unclean housing, and other conditions including the wet tail disease), malocclusion (overgrown teeth), and mites (the hamster may lose patches of hair).
- weight loss,
- breathing disorders,
- skin lesions,
- abnormal hair loss,
- overgrown teeth (talking about the teeth, it is normal for a hamster's teeth to be yellow; it's not a sign of any problem, and cleaning is not necessary),
- diarrhea or dirty bottom,
- eye or nasal discharge.
Weight loss is usually one of the first sign of an existing problem. The normal weight of a healthy adult hamster depends on its species:
However, it's important to remember that the body weight changes dramatically throughout the year. It is usually at its lowest from July to August.
- Golden (Syrian hamster) – 90 to 200g
- Djungarian hamster – 20 to 65g
- Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster – 30 to 65g
- Roborovski's (desert) hamster – 30 to 40g
If you spot an illness and take actions in time, it can be a life saver for your small furry friend.