Whitney is a hamster parent and has raised a variety of species.
Hamster Illness Can Be a Serious Matter
Although hamsters are pretty easy pets, they are very small, which means that injuries and illness can quickly become a serious matter. They are actually pretty good at hiding their illnesses until it's nearly too late, which is why it is important to keep a close eye on any changes in your pet's regular diet or routine.
If you notice any signs of illness in your hamster, you need to see a veterinarian as quickly as you can.
If you think that your little furry one is sick or injured, try to keep it warm. If you notice that it is not eating on its own, encourage it to take food or water by a dropper, until you can see a veterinarian.
Signs of Illness
- Loss of appetite
- Huddling in a corner
- Ruffled or unkempt coat
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Wetness around the tail
- Hair loss
- Humped back
Common Hamster Illnesses
- Abscesses: These are pockets of infection that can form from minor breaks in the skin. In many cases, abscesses occur in the cheeks from cuts caused by food. If the hamster looks like it constantly has food in its cheek pouches, it may have an abscess, which a vet will need to drain.
- Respiratory Infection: Respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia. You should watch for sneezing, discharge from eyes or nose, wheezing, and labored breathing. Don't worry about occasional sneezing, unless there is loss of appetite, decreased activity, wheezing, or difficulties breathing accompanying it.
- Wet Tail: A wet tail is one of the more common hamster illnesses, most commonly caused by stress, crowding, and diet changes. Although it can be fatal if not noticed soon enough, it is curable. Watch for signs of diarrhea (causing wetness around the tail), lethargy, loss of appetite, a humped back, and a ruffled coat.
- Diarrhea: Not all hamsters who have diarrhea will have a wet tail. The most common cause of diarrhea in hamsters is the overfeeding of fresh vegetables. Unlike wet tail, there is no loss of appetite or decreased activity. For the most part, the hamster will appear normal. Do not let diarrhea stay for prolonged periods of time, as dehydration becomes a big concern. You will want to withhold fresh foods for a few days and resume only if the diarrhea is completely resolved; you can start giving fresh produce again, but slowly.
- Skin Diseases (including mites, ringworm, allergies, and skin infections): These are the most common skin illnesses associated with hamsters. Watch for flakiness or redness of the skin, hair loss, lesions on the skin, or if the hamster appears to be scratching more. In these cases, you will want to see a vet to determine the exact cause of the skin concern. Pine and cedar bedding can cause skin irritation, as well as lung problems, so avoid these beddings.
- Hibernation: Watch the room temperature where the cage is. If the temperatures fall below normal, the hamster may go into a hibernating state, where they can appear very still and breathe more slowly. Your hamster is not dead or dying, in this case, but you will want to rewarm the hamster.
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.
Makenna on June 20, 2020:
My hamster died on June 10th 2020
Phyllis on May 13, 2020:
My hamster is dying
AAMoss on May 03, 2020:
My daughter has a winter white we have had for several months. She is still eating but has more wet poop than usual. She does not appear to have a wet tail and her eyes and skin look good. We gave her new treats with veggies. Could this have caused it? Should I be concerned?
bhus15 on April 20, 2020:
I've been noticing a weird swollen anus on my new Syrian hamster, Tyson. I don't think it's a rectal prolapse because nothings coming out of it. It's just puffy and red. He has also has a bit of a damp tail. Tyson is behaving normally, eating, drinking, sleeping and being his peppy self. I'm just worried. Help, please.
Me on April 09, 2020:
My hamsters penis is larger than normal and is a purple blue color. Kind of like a bruise. He is a tan and white long haired syrian that is two years old. Does anyone know is this is just normal or I need to seek help? Thanks in advance
Hamlet (The Hammy's Name) on January 31, 2020:
hi guys, I have a teddy bear hamster and his fur is matting and his back is kinda hard and he is struggling to walk. it is almost like a scab that spreads. i am using a medicine on him and it seems to be helping but if anyone know what it is that would be great. I have been trying to research this disease for hours. if I know what it is it would really help me research this disease so I can cure this little guy faster. Thank you! I hope all the other hamsters do well also!
Sarah on December 21, 2019:
My hamsters breathing is decreased breaths and his hands are turning yellow
Hi on December 12, 2019:
My hamster has a red spot on its belly and a brown smudge on its but can’t be poo can it? Should I be worried ?
Saskeya on July 13, 2019:
Ive got a syrian hamster that had 5pups. They are 25 days old today & one of the pups still hasn't opened his eye's. Iv bathed them with warm water 5days ago & again today, but still closed. Any suggestions as im getting quite worried for him.
chi the hamster on June 20, 2019:
Chi is a Chinese dwarf hamster. about a week ago I took him out of his home to play and he looked fine. very active, eyes wide and back flat. just today, about a week later, I took him out again and I noticed he looked tired but when I looked closer I realized he had goo around his eyes and he kept them mostly closed although being able to open them. he also had an arched back. he’s rarely active while in his cage, he used to be a lot more, but now he just sleeps and comes out to eat or drink. I’m worried about him. this happened to my friends hamster, except hers had hair loss around the nose. mine doesn’t. I’m going to take him to the vet tomorrow, should I be worried? does anyone know what this is? I’ve had him for about the year and I’m afraid his time is coming but i don’t want it to be because of sickness. help?
Mary on June 08, 2019:
My hamsters tail is hard, and walking with her but in the air, looks like puss coming from her butt. She seems to be eating ok
Kamryn on May 10, 2019:
My hamster (Izzy) all around her eyes are puffy red. She sleeps a lot and she has more energy then normal. When she has all this energy I put her in her ball and she doesn't move. Is there something wrong with her
Bobo McCuddles on April 29, 2019:
my hamster is throwing up and is making a mess
Cloey Miller on April 27, 2019:
My hamster is not moving much she is very cold to the touch and stays in the corner she has not eaten or drank anything for about 3 days when I talk to her or when she try’s to walk on her own she shakes VERY badly and it scared me what should I do?
Annie on April 21, 2019:
my hamster is awake during the day and asleep at night aren't hamsters nocturnl?
Oni on April 18, 2019:
My hamster does long deep squeakes in her sleep and i wake her up and get her out because I’m scared she is struggling in her sleep but I got her out today and she was sneezing continuously and clear snot was flying everywhere. And her mouth is all surrounded be saliva. Sometimes she will do a little jump when she sneezes. There aren’t any exotic vets that I know of in my area and I need help
Madelyn on April 15, 2019:
Please help me. I have a male Russian Dwarf, almost a year old. He recently got out of his cage for at most a day and a half while I was at my mothers house and he hasn’t been the same since. His back in hunched, I haven’t seen him touch his food, but he seems to stay in one area, not moving much. He won’t run on his wheel and he usually doesn’t let me pick him up or pet him, but recently hes been limp and doesn’t do anything when I pick him up. When I first found him he was in a corner, shaking, awake but his eyes didn’t open. I gave him food, which he didn’t eat, I set him in front of his water and he sat there and drank for over an hour. His eyes are darely opened now and it’s been a day. He hasn’t been active, hasen’t eaten, and has stayed in the same spot. I plann on bringing him to the vet tomorrow but I’m scared for his health, maybe he ate something while he was out or something else happened?
... on April 15, 2019:
My hamster has been sneezing a lot sorta lately. im kind of scarded that hes gonna die but ya. I think he puked too, so I trying to change up his diet and try to go on a heathier habbit. the good thing is that he is not dehydrated. he is definitally drinking enough water.
Hamster owner on March 22, 2019:
My hamster is laying on its side with his eyes open and breathing heavily. What do I do?
Mr.hammie on January 23, 2019:
My hamster was just squeaking like crazy and was moving around crazy and I think his fur got stuck in the tube but I’m scared
Jovita on January 08, 2019:
So, my hammy recently had diarrhea but I’m pretty sure it’s not a wet tail since her bottom isn’t wet/has poo. Also, my brother has been bothering my hammy a lot. Idk if my hammy did diarrhea because of stress from my brother or something, can someone tell me if my hammy is sick?
ana hamster on January 07, 2019:
my hamster has a red hole close to the eye and i dont know what to do
hamsters?Love? on January 02, 2019:
my hamster has something in his ear but it is not a animal.It seems to me that it looks like when people wake up in the morning. It looks like eye bougers.
frances yozawitz on December 27, 2018:
I love hamsters.
evie on December 15, 2018:
my hamster has a red spot on his tummy and it looks like a scab but it feels weird and wet but my dad act like he don't care and he say just to put on antibiotic ointment
hi on December 05, 2018:
hamster is huddled in corner and not moving and red stuff on cage walls
J_bear301 on December 04, 2018:
My hamster died and after i had clean out the cage, where it died i saw puke! :(
what does it mean??????
Becky Little on December 04, 2018:
My hamster has a sticky eye. I wipe it daily with warm water. She is not eatting. Not active at all. She has a wet tail and lost hair on the underside of her. She is about 2+ yrs old. And I'm worried she may be dying? Any answers in this, please x
Tobster18 on November 21, 2018:
Just an FYI to everyone if you believe that something is wrong with you’re hamster, please get it checked out by the vet. It’s the best thing to do when in doubt. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Brette on November 13, 2018:
Hi my hamster is puking a lot and I don’t know why to do. I am really scared cause I don’t want him to die
Em on November 12, 2018:
my hamster has scabs on her butt and has hair loss she also has a cage to her self what is the cause of this
HamsterAlive3 on October 27, 2018:
My hamster is walking weird. He doesn’t have that much energy. But I’ve seen her eating
HamsterAlive3 on October 27, 2018:
My hamster is walking around weard and he doesn’t have any energy
but she’s eating
(I will try to answer people in the comments)
Jay hinkle on October 06, 2018:
Ight im only a teen so this comment might look a bit like a text but, of ur hamster is biting i could be cuz ur hands smeel like food, or they dont like the smeel of the soup ur useing, it could also be if there in a small cage im useing to preety big bin cages that i made into a double decker bin cage but i big cause in biteing all depends on the hamsters first impression,they say this pets are good for kid i say fuck no they by the little cute colored cages that are way to small and play with them like dolls... gheh have feels and get scared E.Z, i have allway left my hamster alone unless he wants to come out then ill lay my hand flat in the cage if he gets on he want out if not then he doesn't, if there just doing there own thing dont swoop in like a halk and pull him out they'll feel threatened
Anonymous on October 02, 2018:
My hamster is all fine but it keeps biting me no matter what I do
Ellen Seubold on September 30, 2018:
my hamster is biting me he is active and he is shaking. What is wrong with him??????
Ai Lin on September 25, 2018:
My hamster peels his seeds but doesn’t eat what does that mean???
HARRY POTTER on September 25, 2018:
Dear alexis Rodrigues my hamster is doing the same thing I need help
Holly on September 23, 2018:
My hamster has got a lot skinnier and the back of its back fur is going white. She lives in her cage with her sister and her sister is still all good. Does anyone know what this is or how to help
Alexis Rodriguez on September 21, 2018:
My hamster is huddled in a corner a lot. She doesn't want to eat or drink water. She also can not really move and it looks like she is in pain.She has been like this since last night. What is wrong with her? Please help me
katrina maloney on September 17, 2018:
sarahhxox, your hamster needs to be taken to the vet, he or she has "wet tail". You can look it up, but if your hamsters' stool is not solid, he/she is sick.
sarahhxox on September 10, 2018:
My hamster is always sleeping!! Shes in a corner a lot but sometimes in her house. She rarely goes on her wheel and doesnt eat a ton. She has a wet bum a lot and poops a lot and starts to smell a couple days (2-3) after i clean her cage. My hamsters broken whats going on
harry on September 05, 2018:
my hamster has a red almost pimple like thing just above his private part and i don't know what it is please help.
Lolita on August 14, 2018:
I have a question, why my hamster is vomiting all the time (2 times) ??
Enkeo on August 12, 2018:
My hamster has a pink and black dotted thing in his ear Ivegot looked at it many times each Dayan day now it looks like it has dried up,
I don’t know if something got in his ear, or a infection, or it’s part of his ear
Mandy on August 11, 2018:
My robo dwarf hamster seems to have a slightly yellow bum and he also sleeps a lot I don’t know if this is a sign of wet tail or anything pls help!
Hi I’m Linny on August 09, 2018:
HI I came back from vacation and my hamster had this yellow scab on her back I thought it was fine cause scabs go away so I let it be and it just kept growing!? Now her skin is red and she’s loosing a lot of hair she hasn’t been very active either pls help!!
Hi I'm christena on August 08, 2018:
My hambster has brown or orange fur around its butt but it fur was always grey and white i dont know if its a sickness please help
Korona on August 08, 2018:
Hi Um My Hamster Has A Bone Sticking Out Of Her Chest What Does That Mean?
A person on August 07, 2018:
Help my robo drawrf hamster has a red butt and its swollen and i dont know what to do help!
bethrushbrook on August 06, 2018:
my russian dwarf hamster called lupin has a big red thing coming out of his penis and i dont know what to do in everything else he is doing normally in his eating habits and his sleeping is normal but i didnt know wether it is something to worry about.
something else he has is a spot thing on the corner of his eye he has had it once before and it went away after a month or so but now he has had it for about a month and a half and its not going away so is it anything i need to worry about
Alli on July 22, 2018:
What happens if your male hamster has his little testicles hot and warm?? Is there a treatment you can give to the hamster?
Syrena on July 16, 2018:
i have A LOT OF GERBILS and I don't know if this also for gerbils
Casey on June 16, 2018:
My Russian dwarf hamster misty has been sqealing really high pitched and he has a small white dot in his eye a hunched back but we have had him for 2 years now I don’t know what to do
Zachary Tanaka on June 07, 2018:
Hello. My hamster (which is a long haired teddy bear which is around 1 year old) has been noticeable drinking large amounts of water and losing her apatite. Although she is active, she will not eat treats or much food and refuses to stay away from her water bottle. I have looked up the symptoms but I have got nothing definitive. Please help!
carlehe on May 28, 2018:
hi my hamster has lost its apppetite and is huddling in a corner and barely moves anymore could this be a sighn of death
Kate on May 27, 2018:
Hello, My hamster has been around for about a year now, but I'm not sure if it is getting old or something else. Behind it's ear, it is red and has red marks we are not sure how it got that. And it's eyes have been closed for a few days, and it keep rolling around in it's hay and it keeps squeaking.
Kayleigh F on May 26, 2018:
Hey, my boyfriend bought a beautiful creamy grey Russian Dwarf hamster who we've had for over 6 months now, therefore, she's very loved and will be dearly missed if she dies. Sadly we recently noticed a lump on the side of her stomach near her rear leg. We took her to the vets and the vets claimed it was a tumor and had given my boyfriend a painkiller (Metacam) and an antibiotic (Baytril) we've been giving it to her as the vet recommended us to do and it has been helping to make the tumor smaller. However new serious symptoms have popped up and is, therefore, looking for opinions and ideas on what to. We are in the process of getting surgery for the tumor to be removed but the cost has made us have to wait longer and the symptoms will cause an issue for us and the vets.
Currently, at the moment, she is unable to eat and visible signs of weight loss are seen. Her eyes are almost always close as if unable to open. She is bleeding from her vagina area which is a worrying us. Shes also drinking a LOT of water and doesn't go far. She's shaking and seems unable to move to places where she usually can. This is causing me and my boyfriend and his family a lot of concern. At the moment we believe its either her teeth are too long or its possible sides effects of the medicines, however, we aren't vets nor had hamsters long enough to be considered professional hamster handlers. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated thank you!!
Luke on May 21, 2018:
My hamster has a green spot right next to her privet parts. She is a dwarf hamster.
Lola on May 19, 2018:
My hamster has become very skinny. She doesn’t eat or poop. She is about a year old. I’m very concerned please help.
Pleasent on May 11, 2018:
My hamster Cashmier was fine yesterday but the day before that he hand the biggest lump I ever seen and it smelled likes death and i couldn't take it so i thew in the wilderness
Jessica on April 29, 2018:
I need help. I think my hamster is sick because he has a weird eye, he has loss of hair on his chest and lots of parts of his body. He is really skinny and he sleeps a lot I don't see him eat a lot he barely eats he barely drinks any water idk if this is bad or not but I try to make him at least nibble of his food. He is really aggressive when I try to touch him. Help my hamster plz :(
Julia on April 19, 2018:
My youngest baby hamster his or her fur is t
Mary Helen Mena on April 17, 2018:
I have a female hamster; she is about 1 year and a couple months old. She was fine a couple days ago, but yesterday I noticed she was very thin (even though she always has a lot food and water),and her eyes were closed with a sticky discharge. I took her to the vet and he told me she has parasites and infection because of the parasites. He dewormed her and gave me antibiotics to treat the infection. She doesn’t want to eat or drink water and is walking funny.I checked her pouches to see if there was something wrong in her mouth, and everything was fine. No wet tail, no visible trauma, no ear discharge, no visible diarrhea (her bottom is clean), no visible skin problem. I need help, there’s no small animal vets around and I don’t want my hamster to die.
Thanks in advance.
Jenaeha on February 26, 2018:
my black bear hamster had a big bump under her skin and she had a scar on the bump but today when she scratched it the scar came off the bump disappeared but black liquid started to come from her cheek please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
gabe on February 19, 2018:
my hamster has suddenly slowed down in eating and does not want to play and is huddled in a corner it has been cold lately but I'm worried what is wrong with my hamster
kake on February 17, 2018:
my hamster has two lumps under his armpits inside his skin. I recently find them and pus is coming out. I cant afford a vet. What should I do?
Brent on January 21, 2018:
My Hamster has a lot of poop lodged in it bum and sleeps all the time her fur is not like satin anymore and her urine stinks even though I wash her and her cage regular. Please help what could be the cause?
Leigh on December 31, 2017:
My hamster Butterscotch is very sick, I can tell. She isn't her normal self. She had diarrhea and her bottom area was wet and poop around her tail. Gave her a Luke warm bath on her bottom only, yesterday and gave her fresh water and change her cage, since she and her cage smelled. Today she is hardly moving and keeping her eyes shut. She is in a warm blanket right now, just sleeping, not moving at all. She would normally crawl all over the place when she was happy. That why I can tell somethings wrong. Please help!!!
g.f. on December 07, 2017:
charlie. for his ear infection try rubbing the visible part gently with a cotton swab until it comes out
g.f. on December 07, 2017:
nevermind he died
Charlie on December 05, 2017:
My hamster Oreo is sick and I can't afford a vet right now. He has scabs on him, smells weird, his food looks weird sometimes and he is a lil flaky. He also has a very bad ear infection. What medicine can I give him?
g.f. on November 25, 2017:
i woke up recently to see my hamsters back hunched and him walking sluggishly. other than that he seemed fine but the next day he was standing in the corner not moving, when i tried to pick him up he squealed at me and proceeded to lie on his back. during this he peed and i noticed it was extremely dark, meaning he was dehydrated. after he calmed down i tried to give him some water but he refused. he seems like he's in a lot of pain and constantly squeals without anyone touching him.
i dont know whats wrong and im worried. there aren't any vets less than an hour away and even if there were, i couldnt afford it.
if you have any answers or a similar experience please tell me.
ME on November 17, 2017:
my hamster started looking sick yesterday, he/she has his/her eyes are almost closed, she/he doesn't sleeps for 3 seconds then wakes up, I don't know wats going on with him/her. right now he/she is sleeing in a blanket wraped around with a hand knit "scarf" I'm afraid she/he is going to die!!!
Noelle on November 07, 2017:
My hamster sometimes is very still and cold but still alive, then in a couple hours he will be back to normal! What’s going on?? Is this hibernation?
hamstercareperson on October 18, 2017:
please someone help my hamster is sneezing and is ahving hard time breathing
Alex on October 15, 2017:
I'm scared my hamster is huddling in her bed 24-7 and highly aggerasave when I was checking on her and she's limping
Nathan on October 12, 2017:
My hamster could barely open eyes leading up to his passing.
When you check on your hamster daily , check to see if their eyes are clean. If the can't see they will stop eating.
amy on October 10, 2017:
My hamster has a red eye and it's sticky, the red eye issue has been going on for about 2 weeks and now she doesn't open that eye (rarely)
Plz help me, i can find much information
Megan on September 28, 2017:
My hampster looks like it's loosing hair underneath and on it's butt and it looks kinda like its real dry but I don't see him itch tht much and he sleeps a lot
Christian on September 06, 2017:
I have a hamster,
And What I had noticed to her that she's not comfortable, and her skin looks dry, she always scratch her body. I think that makes her uncomfortable. What should i do?
I think She's Sick.
Isha on September 01, 2017:
My hamster was about 18 months, Last few days, I noticed him not running on his wheel, he just sit on the side of the cage. Lately, he peed on his favorite area (where there's few sands) and I suddenly saw him laying there, his hands and foot are shaking but the right foot and body are stiff, I think it's stroke or what, he's eyes won't close after I cleaned it with cotton buds because it was teary that almost close his eyes. His bottom is dirty and wet, but I think it's because he peed lately. He is stiff and can't move his body but he is trying to stand, to move! What is happening to my hamster? Please help!
Summer on August 04, 2017:
My hamster has black balls and I do not know what to do
Alexa on August 04, 2017:
My hamster keeps clawing the top of his cage then falling down what should I do? I opened his cage and he just looks out then trys to escape! Then i put him back in and close it but he goes down his cage then goes back up and does it again!
lui on July 28, 2017:
Hello what if my hamster keeps on spinning her body and cant stand up and walk properly she also cant move her body on the other side i think her neck is broken or something else. What should i do i cant afford a vet
Hey guys on July 25, 2017:
Taz is breathing rapidly. What should I do now? Here in Kuwait I don't have access to any of vets here.
Just Curious on July 17, 2017:
My hamster is scratching a lot but isn't losing any fur or anything else
kim on July 16, 2017:
my hamster is not eating and its hart is to fast and i am sad?
Sarah on July 11, 2017:
My hamster is not showing ANY signs of illness apart from sneezing alot, is this normal?
Cameo on June 27, 2017:
I sometimes get bothered by some things that say, if your hamster has so and so, take them to the vet. I get bothered because there are not a lot of vets that take hamster, and if they do, they probably only have a tiny bit more experience then you, so your paying all that money when you can just go look up how to do it on the internet, and buy some medicines yourself. So for all the people who say, go to the vet, you are not useful at all. This is a useful website, but what would make it better is if you add how you can prevent these, and some remedies.
Hannah on June 04, 2017:
For all those people who are saying that their pets appear to be ill, then take your hamster to the vet IMMEDIATELY! It may not be anything serious, but get it checked out by a medical professional to help your hamster have a better quality of life
Katie on June 01, 2017:
hello my hamster is losing its hair and is so much pain that she hisses at me and falls over if you touch her and her stomach looks like her skin is been breaking and starting to bleed what could be the cause of this i'm at a loss
Sai on May 23, 2017:
My hamster is bleeding from his main part it seems like he is got a cut . Secondly it seems like something has happen to his eye cuz he doesn't blink at all ( both eyes) . The left eye seems like it will just come out . Please help
Racie on May 08, 2017:
Hello my hamster has been losing his fur and has a hunched back walks like it hurts to walk. Walks like he is in pain and has a knot like in his mouth and neck and cheek area. He is skinny and I am not sure what to do? He sleeps a lot and seems like he is ills can you give me some advice.
tamzin on May 05, 2017:
Hi my hamster is going on like he wants 2 thow up or is chucking what do I do
Lillian on May 01, 2017:
My hamster hasnt been active for 3 days she seems fater then usual what can i do
Rebecca on April 19, 2017:
Hi my hamster took a turn yesterday he seems to be breathing really heavy and lifeless what can I do if anything
Kimberley on April 18, 2017:
Hi I have a hamster and he keeps going to climb and looses his balance and keeps doing it any one had this before
karina on April 10, 2017:
In the morning my hamster will act drunk,and not watch out for herself.She will run around like crazy and bight anything she sees... any suggestions?
Sally on April 07, 2017:
My hamster all of a sudden started looking really weak when he was trying to get water. He was wobbling and looked as if his legs wernt working as well as usual. any suggestions?