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Sick hamster? How to tell if they’re ill.

Symptoms of a sick hamster

Wondering how to tell if your hamster is sick? Understanding hamster health and diseases is essential. Although these guys are usually healthy, they can become very ill indeed if health issues are not diagnosed and treated quickly. Their tiny bodies can't handle diseases and other health problems as well as bigger animals. This means that you need to catch signs of hamster illness as soon as possible so that you can act quickly before things get life-threatening. Further down, you'll find some of the signs that your hamster is sick, along with some tips on what to do when you have a sick hamster.

But first, what are some common illnesses in hamsters? The main health issues that hamsters face include abscesses, respiratory infections, wet tail disease, diarrhea, and skin diseases. These can all be extremely dangerous for your furry friend. In some cases, your hamster may need antibiotics. If your hamster is sick, take him to an exotic animal vet or one that has experience in treating small animals. Some antibiotics are very dangerous for hamsters, including penicillin, amoxicillin, ampicillin, streptomycin, dihydrostreptomycin, tetracyclines, lincomycin, erythromycin, vancomycin, cephalosporins, and gentamycin.

Keep reading to find out how to tell if your hamster is sick, and get our tips on how to get your buddy on the mend once again.

Pet parents know their babies better than anyone. And when your usually happy-go-lucky little guy is acting or looking different, it's worrisome and scary. But before going into full-blown panic mode, it's essential to understand if you’ve got a sick hamster or if they're having an off day. 

Sick Hamster Symptoms

Hamsters will typically show one (or more) of the following signs if they're under the weather. Of course, other symptoms may present, too, but these are the most common.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Wetness around the tail
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair Loss
  • Inactivity
  • Sneezing, wheezing, discharge from nose or eyes

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to quarantine away from other pets, family members, and bright light. Additionally, isolation in a quiet area can sometimes help speed up recovery time.

How to help hammy feel better

There are lots of things that cause hamsters to fall ill. But let’s focus on what to do if you're asking yourself the question: "Do I have a sick hamster?" and you suspect that they are.


One of the most common symptoms of a sick hamster is appetite loss. And because these guys are so tiny, not eating can be fatal. So what do you do? First, try moving their food dish closer to where they sleep so they can reach it… it sounds pretty simple, but it may help.

Offer higher-calorie foods that are easy to eat. For example, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs in minimal amounts and baby food (fruits or veggies) are good options. You can feed the baby food can via a medicine or eyedropper. But be cautious. Don't let your hamster continue to eat without a break… this can make them worse.


Staying hydrated is SUPER important. Like with food, move the water bottle close to hammy's sleeping quarters for easier access. If they're still not drinking, try offering water via an eyedropper. A weak (half water, half electrolyte) unflavored electrolyte solution can also be used.

Keep 'Em Comfy

It’s common for sick hamsters to become chilled, so you want to keep them warm (but not hot, which can lead to death by heatstroke). Make sure they're in a warm place in your home. Additionally, give them some extra bedding to make a nest and curl up… this can help fight the yucky cold feeling of their illness.

Limit Activity

Even though they may love it, try removing their exercise wheel until they’re feeling better. Some hamsters continue to exercise when sick, and we don’t want that as it can lead to injury or dehydration.

Not Improving?

After a few days, if you’re not seeing your sick hamster improve or their condition is getting worse, head to your trusted exotic veterinarian. They will diagnose and treat the exact cause. And probably give you a lot of peace of mind. 

How to get your pet featured in cuties

Do you have any tips for making your sick hamster feel better? We’d love to hear from you. Email us or comment on our socials.

DISCLAIMER: The links and information are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

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