5 of the Most Common Hamster Illnesses

Hamsters make excellent pets, and adding a new member to your family is always exciting. But, like humans, hamsters can get sick and suffer from illness. So, as a tiny furry creature owner, it is your responsibility always to ensure your hamster is in tip-top condition.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the most common hamster illnesses so you can be informed and know what to watch out for.

First, let’s look at some signs and symptoms of your hamster being unwell.

Signs Your Hamster Is Unwell

The following list is some things that can indicate your hamster isn’t feeling 100%. Looking out for signs of illness and injury is the first step in knowing when something may be wrong with your hamster.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Fur falling out
  • Bloody poop or pee
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itching
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Irritation upon handling
  • Lack of interest in their food

If you notice any of the above, it is always best to get your hamster to the vet to find out exactly what’s going on with them.

Now, let’s explore the most common hamster illnesses and what you can do about them.

The Most Common Illnesses in Hamsters

Abscesses and infections

In your wee hamster, an abscess can appear anywhere on their body and form due to an infection. These puss-filled lumps can be incredibly painful and may need to be drained by a small mammal vet.  

Hopefully, if your hamster develops an abscess, its body can fight it on its own. But keep a close eye on it and always take them to the vet if things don’t seem to be improving. 

Respiratory problems

Respiratory problems can be minor or severe in hamsters. Some of hamsters’ most common respiratory problems are colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.

One of the main things to be aware of is where you’re keeping your hamster cage. Exposure to cold temperatures and drafts can cause respiratory issues in hamsters, so try to keep them away from these.

Another cause can be the bedding used in their cage. Pine and cedar shavings aren’t appropriate for hamsters as the dust can collect inside their lungs and cause respiratory problems. Fluffy bedding can also be an issue as it is often made from synthetic fibres, which can cause breathing difficulties. 

So, opt for natural paper-based bedding and keep your hamster somewhere away from the cold. 

Some respiratory problem signs to look out for include:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Redness around the nose
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of the above, allow your hamster to rest in a warm area and provide them with plenty of water and food. If your hamster’s symptoms don’t improve in a few days, visit your vet. 

Wet tail

Wet tail is a common but often deadly disease found in hamsters caused by bacteria and is highly contagious. Wet tail can be triggered by stress, overcrowding and dietary changes. 

This disease is certainly one to look out for as time is of the essence when it comes to getting treatment. 

Wet tail is one of the most common hamster illnesses, so here are some of the signs to watch for:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of energy
  • A bad smell

The most important thing with wet tail is to get your hamster to the vet immediately. If left untreated, your hamster could die within a couple of days.

Eye Problems

Hamsters already can’t see very well, and they can have various issues when it comes to their eyes. Here are a few:


Entropion is when your hamster’s eyelids turn inwards and can rub against their eye. Always take them to the vet for treatment with this.

Sticky eye

Sticky eye is when the eyes secrete fluid, often in older hamsters. It’s similar to sleep in humans. A warm wet cloth can dissolve and remove stickiness. Just make sure you’re extremely gentle when trying to remove this build-up.

Injuries or infections

Any sign of weeping, swelling, or pawing at the eyes can indicate that something may be stuck in your hamster’s eye or it’s infected. It’s always best to take them to the vet if you notice any of these signs. 

Skin Problems

One of the most common illnesses in hamsters is skin problems. However, there are many reasons a hamster may have problems with their skin. These include stress, cedar or pine bedding, parasites, and bacteria.

So, as there are so many possible causes for skin issues, it’s best to get them checked out by a vet.

Skin problem signs to look out for are:

  • Hair loss
  • Flaky skin
  • Scratching
  • Redness
  • Lesions

Other Illnesses to Be Aware of

The illnesses above are some of the most common hamster illnesses, but here are a few others to put on your radar:

  • Digestive issues
  • Problems with cheek pouches
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Tumours or cancer
  • Dry ears

As always suggested, pop along to your local vet to get your hamster checked out if you notice anything of concern.

Most Common Hamster Illnesses

Many people mistakenly believe hamsters don’t require as much care as other pets. Because hamsters are so small and cute, people don’t imagine that they can get seriously ill like a dog or even us humans. But that’s not true. So, it’s incredibly important to know the signs and symptoms of some of the most common illnesses found in hamsters. In addition, it’s imperative that you’re always looking out for your wee hamster. Always err on the side of caution, and don’t hesitate to take them to the vet if they seem a little off.