Whitney is a hamster parent. She hates to see her furry friends suffer and enjoys educating others of best husbandry practices.
Diagnosing Lumps on Hamsters
If your hamster has an abnormal lump anywhere on the body, you should definitely find a veterinarian that is familiar with small animals so that you can have the lump diagnosed. It may be a simple abscess caused by an infection, but it could also be a tumor. Without veterinary assistance, that's something that you won't be able to have diagnosed over the internet.
For the most part, if your hamster has a lump, a veterinarian is your only solution. Even an abscess caused by an infection is pretty important to have treated. If you don't get your hamster treated, the prognosis isn't going to be good—but with treatment your hamster should heal within a few weeks.
What Causes an Abscess on a Hamster?
Abscesses can be caused by many different things and most often occur when hamsters are housed in groups. The most common cause is a bite, wound, or scratch that has become infected; this is typically caused by another hamster. Remember that teddy bear hamsters (Syrian hamsters) are best when housed by themselves, whereas most dwarf species can be housed in groups.
Another common cause of an abscess is when sharp objects get stuck or scratch the pouches in your hamster's cheeks. Basically, when the immune system tries to heal the infection, pus will start to develop underneath the skin, which results in a bump surrounded by swelling. So, whether the hamster received a scratch from another hamster, pet, or sharp object, an abscess can develop while the body is trying to heal the wound.
Signs of an Abscess
An abscess is generally pretty easy to spot. It's a bulge or bump on the hamster's body that is not normally there. It may be hard or soft, depending on what type of abscess it is—cancerous or just irritated.
If it looks like your hamster has his cheeks full all the time, it may actually be an abscess which should be looked at, as a cheek abscess can potentially cause stomach issues later on if left untreated. Plus, it's probably a little painful, which can lead to lack of appetite.
You may notice that your hamster isn't eating as much—he may look ill in appearance. He may be more lethargic, and he may not exercise as much. Depending on where the abscess is, the effects may vary. Hamsters with lumps around their legs may have trouble moving, whereas lumps in and around the mouth may cause trouble eating and drinking.
How Are Abscess Treated?
A vet will need to diagnose the abscess to determine if it is cancerous or not. Your vet will more than likely drain the abscess and flush it with a saline solution to clean it out and ensure that all of the infection was removed. Then your hamster will probably be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent further infection.
What if It's a Tumor?
If your vet determines the lump to be a tumor, they may be able to remove it if it's an external tumor. If it's an internal tumor, it may be too late, as internal tumors are usually diagnosed very late in the game. Removal will depend on whether the vet feels like your hamster will be able to survive the surgery and make a good recovery. In some cases, the lump may be a fatty tumor, which is benign. Your hamster will likely be fine without having surgery unless the tumor starts to hinder eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating, or if the tumor starts to drag, which can potentially become infected.
More About Basic Hamster Care
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Carla on May 26, 2020:
Just noticed my hamster has a massive lump above her leg, its gonna cost a fortune, i have red up that it could be an abcess or tumour.....its 60 quid just to see a vet which is madness....can i have some advice please
Michele on January 11, 2018:
My granddaughter just got a teddy bear hamster and we noticed that it has a lump on its left side just below its ear. It feels like a bumpy kind of lump not smooth and it moves quite freely. It also appears that there may be a small one on the right side. Does anybody know what this might be?
Evan on April 27, 2017:
my hamster has a bump on his eye that sounds just like this but he also has los of eating and is slow he is a very old hamster maybe 3 or 4 years old but he still moves whe he is hapel like he is 1 year or when they are still growing.
gareth [my hamster has a bump under its mouth] on September 19, 2016:
hi my hamster has a bump under its mouth she is not even one yet and i am wondering how bad it is . It tarted a mabey 4 houres ago on 9\19\16 pease help I would love it.
hannah on February 14, 2015:
my hampster is sick, me and mom are taking chewy to the vets he is ok
monday, they are not open today. he has a big lump. i hope he is ok.
lacey on August 28, 2014:
Im 12 and iv had my dwarf hamster for about 3 years and I need help. Theres a like a big bump on the side of his body and it keeps getting biger! I put medicane on it but he wont stop bitting or scratching it!! I don't know if it's a tumor or If its absessed but hes had it for a while....please help me
ethan on December 08, 2013:
my dwarf hamster called ash has and abscess in her cheek and it is making her eye pop out! she keeps bleeding from her eye and I don't know what to do! i am only 12 and my old hamster died of an abscess! the vets costs a fortune so i really need help as fast as possible! thnx! i would love to be happy again, that is only possible if ash gets better though! thnx
Anthea Carson from Colorado Springs on July 26, 2012:
Thank you for this helpful hub. My daughter has a hamster with an abscess, and we went to the vet. the hamster is still on antibiotics but once she was off the pain medicine she started biting it again. Should we just keep her on the pain medicine a little longer? We called the vet, but I wondered if you had any experience with this.
victoria on February 25, 2012:
hi im victoria im 11
my hamster whitey is really fat and when i carried her i felt a bump. i flipped her over and it was like a yellow bump but it was a little red is this an abcess plzz tell me. thnx
Skylar on October 02, 2011:
I am scared I don't know if my hamster has a tumor or not help me it is spongy it's a small ball near it's cheek my dad said we will get it checked up if it does not get better I am scared if it is too late help me!!!!!!!
chloe on September 20, 2011:
his ive got a hamster that has got abscess i am very upset and i cant take it to the vet what should i do please it will help me be happy agin
freja on August 31, 2011:
Did Archibald get well again? I just noticed an abcess on one of my beloved roborovski hamsters, probably due to a bite from his brother, and am taking him to the vet tomorrow. Any advice?
zagorka on January 12, 2011:
it's preety hard to deal with this disease.(abscess) My hamster suffers and I am helpless. The vet told me to have to cut his leg.I can+t beleive. Is there any treatement to help my sweet Archibald do get well?