Hamster Health Care Checklist
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Regularly inspect your hamster with this health care checklist to ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy!
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Hamster are fairly easy to take care of, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick or injured.
In this article I’ll go over what is ideal, and what could be a sign of illness in your hamster.
But please note: I’m not a Veterinarian, or a professional in this field. If you have any questions or concerns about your hamster’s healthy, please consult a licensed Veterinarian!
This article is based on my own personal experience and knowledge. This is not a professional advice!
Also, remember if you think your hamster is sick, it is better if you consult a Veterinarian as soon as possible.
Ok, moving on…
By the way, for information on basic hamster care, please read my other popular article called: Bringing Home Your First Hamster.
Alright, so here is what you should inspect regularly:
If you had your hamster for a while, you should know what is her “normal” behavior.
For example, I know my hamster is normally very energetic and curious when she is awake.
She comes out every night around 9pm and smells around her enclosure, bathes in the sand and then runs on the wheel.
She basically has a very routine schedule.
So look at your hamster and see if she is behaving like her normal self.
Here are some behavioral signs you should inspect and compare it to what is “normal” in your hamster:
Does she seem lethargic, or has lack of energy?
Sleeps more than normal?
Just sits in the corner curled up not wanting to do anything?
Not interested in food or treats?
Change in behavior like becoming aggressive or depressed?
Suddenly too scared of everything?
Excessively biting on the cage bars or constantly trying to escape?
You get the idea?
Look for anything that is unusual in your hamster.
Keep in mind that not all behavioral changes mean your hamster is sick.
Your furry friend can also be stressed!
There are several things that can make your hamster stressed like:
Not big enough enclosure (see my other article above).
Other hamsters or pets.
Too cold or too hot temperature.
Exposed to chemical or excess fragrances (like air fresheners).
Scented hamster beddings.
Bothering her too much and not letting her rest.
Excess loud noise.
Not enough hiding space in her enclosure.
Inspecting your hamster’s face shouldn’t be so hard.
Here is what should be normal:
Eyes should be clear and shinny.
Nose should be dry with no discharge.
Shinny healthy fur.
Ears normal color, moving around as she listens to sounds.
What is not normal:
Eyes are dull, inflamed, swollen or red*.
Can’t open one or both eyes.
Discharge coming from one or both eyes.
Discharge coming from the nose. Runny nose.
Ears are red, especially inside.
Head tilted to once side. (possible head trauma)
Constant shaking her head.
Constantly scratching her ear.
Can’t move one or both ears.
Dull looking fur on face.
Missing fur patched on face.
Unable to empty cheek pouch (possible stuck object or injury)
(*if your hamster has naturally red colored eyes, ignore the “redness” in her eye. However she can still have redness around the eye, which isn’t normal.)
If you can, you should also inspect her teeth to make sure it isn’t overgrown.
Hamster’s teeth never stops growing which is why they need so many chew toys to grind their teeth on.
An overgrown teeth is very dangerous for your hamster.
Her teeth should easily fit in her mouth, the upper and lower front teeth should be aligned, and of course should have no trouble chewing.
If you can check her gums too and see if there is any visible redness or inflammation.
Try giving her something to chew on and see if she has any trouble.
If her teeth are overgrown you should get it trimmed by a Veterinarian!
Make sure she has plenty of chew toys and check her teeth at least once a month to make sure they are wearing off evenly.
Now lets inspect the rest of her body:
A healthy hamster should have/be:
Healthy shinny fur.
Healthy paws with no injuries.
Be able to climb, walk and run with no problems.
Able to bend her back or straighten it out.
Healthy tail without injuries or swelling.
Inspect the following for negative signs:
Dull, dirty looking fur?
Missing fur patches?
Injured or bloody feet?
Can’t stand on a paw?
Loss of weigh?
Increased weight, over weight?
Loss of balance, keeps falling over?
Can’t bend or straighten her back?
Trouble climbing or walking?
Tail looks injured or swollen?
Any trouble breathing?
Other Health Problems
While this might sound disgusting, you also need to inspect your hamster’s urine and poop.
One of the things you need to look out for is acute diarrhea, or more accurately “Wet Tail”.
Wet tail is very bad for your hamster, especially because the diarrhea is so acute, she can’t keep herself clean.
You will see her bottom, bedding and feet constantly wet, and smell really bad.
Apart from the diarrhea, she could also be lethargic or extremely irritated, not wanting to eat or drink, and be too sick to even try to clean herself.
This condition is also highly contagious to other hamsters.
If your hamster develops a “wet tail”, you should take her to the Vet as soon as possible.
Also inspect her urine if you can.