DogsCatsFish & AquariumsReptiles & AmphibiansRodentsRabbitsExotic PetsBirdsFarm Animals as Pets

Symptoms of Poor Hamster Health or Illness

Updated on December 20, 2015


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
  • Inactivity
  • Huddling in a corner
  • Ruffled or unkempt coat
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Wetness around the tail
  • Diarrhea
  • 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: 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.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jim 2 weeks ago

      My hamster is shaking and not eating or drinking

    • Dreamz 2 weeks ago

      My hamster's body start to grow yellow stuffs on her body and became inactive

    • cloey 4 weeks ago

      there is blood comeing from my hmaster privet part or her butt and shes not moveing and wen i try to touch her she tries to bite me and she wont realy move or eat or drink and shes barley breathing and i dont know wats wrong with her and her back legs ar getting stiff well one of them cuz a while back wen i got her she had lost a leg and i dont have a clue wat is wrong with her and if u see this will u plse answer this question

    • Chantel Arnold 4 weeks ago

      My daughter's teddy bear hampster got mites when I found him in the corner of cage last night he couldn't walk, his legs are all spread out but leopard crawl I cleaned his whole cage and going to get now, I just want to know why he is so weak

    • jacob 7 weeks ago

      my hamster is very sick and isnt doing much i hope it lives even thogh its so mean to its friend

    • alyssa 2 months ago

      you most likely wont answer but my hamster has a cut on hisneeck which is green and it may be infected, sadly. he always has poop sticking out of his butt and it is a bit green in color and sort of mushy. he has little to no hair on his stomach and has blotches missing on his back. he has trouble breathing, and eating his lower teeth are over grown and he has a hut in his cage which he usually leaves but he rarely does now and to eat he lays food on his bedding in front of him and he lays down and eats it. he also lays outside of his cage which is new. he has a terrible terrible odor and he sits hunched over. he just seems out of it and im very worried please try to respond as fast as possible im worried he wont make it much longer is breathing is very heavy.. i love him so much please..

    • a.r 2 months ago

      My hamster has a red eye and the other has white in it,he also has a red bleeding sore on his back. Please respond quickly because I am very concerned about my hamster Mr bumble,when I open the cage he looks around like he didn't know were he is.

    • PancakesmyPet 3 months ago

      Help please! My hamster is sneezing about 10ish times a day! Sometimes while eating, digging, or while he is in the bath tub during taming. He also seems to be playing less, I don't know. Other than that though, there doesn't seem to be any problems! Is it my bedding? Do I need more toys? I don't know!

    • chelsey 6 months ago

      To Keziah: it could be mites.

    • Keziah 7 months ago

      my dwarf hamsters keep on itching themselves also black things are coming out of their fur When i gave it a bath to see if something was in its fur.not just that but a week ago my other syrian hamster called digbie unfortunately died so im wondering if this was the cause of his death since he wasnt even 1 yet?please answer

    • Jemma 7 months ago

      My 10 week old Syrian eats well and drinks well but sleeps in one corner everyday and night covered in bedding and you can't see her she only gets up to eat, drink and exercise, is this normal?

    • 9 months ago

      My hamster has a missing toe and it looks like it is very swollen, and he is refusing to eat his food but not apples, and he has brown everywhere on his behind. What is this??

    • ejdj 10 months ago

      my hamster has a cut under his neck, he is slow, he has a lump under his neck, and he bit me what should i do?

    • Jade 10 months ago

      My hamster seems perfectly healthy, her coat is glossy and she eats, drinks and exercises but today when i got her out, i felt something wet on my hand and thought she peed on me and i looked at her bottom and she was bleeding and the wet thing i felt was a piece of skin, she lost a huge clump of skin. My mom won't let me take her too the vets because we don't have the money but I am really concerned about her health.

    • Trinni 16 months ago

      My hamster is cold has heavy breathing and has a pussy and I and is not drinking and eating I don't know what's wrong with him but he's not acting lately normal to let her use this happened about two days ago when I put in the new bedding

    • Micah 17 months ago

      My hamster is fine. Eating, drinking running on the wheel exploring in his ball etc...but everyonce and a while he has some bad diarrhea...and his anus area looks gross. I keep his cage very clean and I don't feed him fruits. I just got him about a week ago...could it just be the stress of moving from the pet store. HELP!

    • Taylor 20 months ago

      I accidentally dropped by hamster about 10 inches onto the top of my dresser. She seems fine, running on her wheel and eating, etc but there was blood where her pee pee is. Is she in heat and I didn't notice it before? She is acting fine.

    • hamsterlover 22 months ago

      This is so much help

    • Livvy123 23 months ago

      My hamster isn't earing much and has gone quite thin. She is not that old and he faeces are slightly off coloured and she has a lump on her stomach

    • jean 2 years ago

      My hamster is not acting right he use to run i n he wheel all the time and now he just sets in the corners of the case he eats. And drinks but dosent seem the same could it be the change of the weather? Ways the room temp supposed to be I'm worried about him

    • hamsterlover101 2 years ago

      my hamster has a red stomach andher private in the back is getting bigger. I don't know if shes just getting old or if shes sick. please help.

    • mol 2 years ago

      love this

    • Robyn 2 years ago

      My hamster is acting really weird. yesterday he was absolutely fine, but this morning, I went to pick him up and he started to nip at me which he never does. then he just laid in my hand and was really lethargic. his fur is greasy and unkept. he's just sleeping in the corner. his hind leg is sagging a little at his hip and he has 2 red dots on the sides of his nose and I don't know what's going on. I'm freaking out. I already lost 1 hamster to wet tail, and I don't know what to do.

    • laura 3 years ago

      my daugter was playing with her 6 month panda hamster and his tail got on one of her toys she was playing with.and the skin came off. will the skin grow back on the tail soon. put vaslin on it and lift it. will he be ok soon.

    • alix 3 years ago

      i have a young male syrian hamster. 3 days ago he was fine, yesterday i noticed white raised skin on both ears but did not look serious, this morning around the bottom of his back i noticed a very large lump and by night it has almost doubled in size, i am taking him to a vet asap but, does anyone know what i can do in the meantime? please help asap, thanks

    • sierra 3 years ago

      hi my name is sierra and my hamster has some of these Simtoms but is it sick or pregnant she has been drinking for like 3 hour now what do i do im starting to get scared.i hared that she also mite have diabetes or sugar can that be true too.

    • julianna 4 years ago

      thank-you my hamster turunt to be ok

    • Zeusgoose 4 years ago

      I just recently purchased a hamster from petco and had it for about two days now. Zeus(the hamster) woke me up with banging, chewing, and climbing then jumping off the cage walls. He is the sweetest looking hamster his fur feels like a cloud, but this morning when I checked on him his fur was greasy looking and looked mad and crazy. I am not going to take him to a vet because I took my old hamster to a vet and it cost 150$$$ and the medicine they gave me caused him to have a seizure and die!!!!

    • heather 4 years ago

      my daughter has annabel, female dwarf hamster she is almost 2 years and 5 months, she was fine last night then she has blood coming from privates, not positive which area, tried to clean her up. she is in pain,do not have access to a vet. she cant walk good when she tries,the front is good,but not the backside. the back left leg and foot not working well. her breathing is like she is in labor but she is not. i do not have a credit card to ask a vet online,just maybe someone knows some advice. thankyou

    • Akhm 4 years ago

      I decided to get another hamster from a pet smart with all male hamsters. I now have it at home for the first night and he is breathing quickly, eyes are closed, and he isn't moving or accepting food or water. I am concerned about him and not sure what to do, I would take him to a vet but none of the local vets accept hamsters and every other site says he is hibernating or dying, so any ideas to help him would be great!

    • Serousha 4 years ago

      Hi my hamster is starting to walk slowly ever since my dog came in my room. Is he afraid or sick?

    • Chris 4 years ago

      Why is my hamster's behind drags all the time and why is she shaking ? She had diahorrea earlier on. How can I make her better ??

    • Allie 4 years ago

      My hamster just recently started moving really slow. He's not even a year yet. His tail isn't wet though. He's not eating as much and I have to make him drink. Does anyone have any idea what it is

    • Megan 4 years ago

      My hamster is not drinking much he is only drinking 5-6 times a this normal ?? Im only12 and I don't want to lose my hamster! Help

    • Lily 4 years ago

      My dwarf hamster was acting lonely when i gave it back to my friend, the other hamster i gave to her had died. My friend came to my house the other day and the hamsters stomach opened and a green seed came out with a white tube. The next morning my hamster had died. Do you know why my hamster died? Sick? Lonely? It was dropped? Please answer as soon as you can.

    • brittany 4 years ago

      My hamster is.sqweaking out of his.nose do you know why what should I do

    • Michelle 4 years ago

      Ok you people all need to take your hamster to the vet if they are sick. Alice, you really need to get the hamster seen to, he must be in so much pain. I can't believe people sometimes, they seem to think just coz it's a tiny animal that if it's sick they don't need to give it proper care. It still has feelings. If it was a dog or cat you'd take it straight to the vet wouldn't you? Well if your hamster gets sick - TAKE IT TO THE VET!!! Otherwise it's cruelty.

    • Alice 4 years ago


      My dwarf hamster is suffering from blindness and a puffy eye and it looks like its eye is going to pop out help me

    • Hamster 4 years ago

      My male Dwarf Hamster has a big lump between his right back leg and arm, it is closer to his leg. I only noticed the lump today because it's not bold though part of it is and the skin there is very red. He doesn't behave different because of it and can walk fine and is eating and drinking like before. Thank You

    • racheladnkelly 4 years ago

      my sisters my hamster has huge balls and they were there this morning and now they are gone i mean gone no cuts and he has his own cage he is 1.5 years old and my mom said that its fine but she is worried and we serched the internet all over but no answer... we might take him to the vet but could some one tell us if it happened to you too thanks

    • Lily 4 years ago

      My dwarf hamster was acting lonely when i gave it back to my friend, the other hamster i gave to her had died. My friend came to my house the other day and the hamsters stomach opened and a green seed came out with a white tube. The next morning my hamster had died. Do you know why my hamster died? Sick? Lonely? It was dropped? Please answer as soon as you can.

    • jessie jay 123 4 years ago

      My hamster is normaly white his back has a pink circle and its got white dots on it i also noticed that he is losing a bit of fur in that area as well.

      Please help me i am 10 years old and have already experienced one of my hampsters dieing and i was heart broken!

    • Jimmy 4 years ago

      My hamster is bleeding in her bottom area and idk why. She is sleeping right now and also if anybody has problems with hamsters fighting separate them. 2 Hamsters of the same gender cant be together even if they are brothers or sisters.

    • lallaalalala 4 years ago

      my hamster has red spots under her eyes what shou;d i do

    • Annie 4 years ago

      I think my hamster was pregneant now she is got yellow stuff coming out her pee area and a big red buldge on her side

    • wolf1104 4 years ago

      hi my hamster is bouncing but not jumping off the ground idk what's wrong.will someone plz tell me im very concerned.please help and thankyou to those who reply.

    • M&M23 4 years ago

      My chinese dwarf hamster has one puffy eye. What is wrong with him ? Also his heart beat is incredibly fast. Is he okay?

    • gem stood 4 years ago

      My hamster won't move to drink I notice a little lump on her belly and was cold this morning what is it help I'm 12 years old thank you

    • Marisa 4 years ago

      My dwarf hamster is 1 year old and it has lost all it's hair and has scabs all over it's body. My parents say if we take it to a vet the bill will be to much just for a hamster. Can someone tell me why it is that way? I am 12. Help please!!!!!!!!!

    • Casey 4 years ago

      My sons dwarf hamster has lost a lot of weight and has a brown scab looking thing on his stomach. Is that a sign of a disease? If anybody has an answer please email me at

      Thank you

    Click to Rate This Article