Your hamster should be checked over every day and thoroughly health-checked once a week to ensure that he is happy and healthy.
Every day check that:
- His faeces are normal and that the his urine does not have an overpowering smell, which could indicate a urine infection
- He is eating a normal amount (monitor this every day so you can pick up on any changes)
- That he is not playing with his food or hoarding more than normal, this could indicate a tooth problem
- That he is active and sleeping a normal amount.
Every week conduct a thorough check including:
- His nose, ears and eyes should be clear, bright and clean
- His coat should be clear of any parasites
- There should be no lumps and bumps
- Check that his teeth and toe nails are wearing evenly
- Check that his nails are the right length and have not become overgrown. This is particularly important for older hamsters.
Common health issues in hamsters
Hamsters are generally very healthy and happy creatures that do not suffer from many health issues, providing they have the correct diet and clean, spacious living accommodation. However, it is important that you are aware of the issues that can arise so you can treat them if needed.
These can occur in hamsters, particularly if they are kept in multi-pet households or if they are kept on inappropriate bedding. If your hamster shows any signs of parasite infestation, seek veterinary attention immediately. Signs include:
- Hair loss
- Red, irritated skin
- Severe dandruff
- Small scratches all over the body
- Visible lice.
This can be caused by stress (such as change in environment or the presence of another animal in the hamster's environment) or by a bacteria build-up in a cage that has not been cleaned out properly. Symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss
- Strong-smelling faeces.
These are quite common in elderly hamsters and can grow quickly. When you handle your hamster check for any new lumps and bumps. If you find one, seek veterinary advice.