Hamsters are prey animals that instinctively hide illness. Knowing the subtle signs of medical issues and stress allows early intervention. Watch for:
- Lethargy – Decreased activity or sleeping more than usual indicates sickness in energetic hamsters. LIST other lethargy signs
- Loss of Appetite – Healthy hamsters have robust appetites. Refusal to eat or decreased foraging signals illness.
- Poor Grooming – Fluffy hamsters that stop grooming may have dental problems or feel unwell. Note dull, matted coats.
- Hunching – A hunched posture with arched back indicates abdominal pain. Contact a vet promptly.
- Stool Changes – Diarrhea, constipation, or unusual stools means digestive issues. Diet changes can also cause stool change.
- Wet Tail – Extreme diarrhea that wets the hamster’s hindquarters requires urgent vet treatment. Isolate hamster to prevent spreading.
- Discharge – Yellow discharge from eyes or nose indicates infection needing antibiotics from a vet.
- Hair Loss – Patchy fur loss can signal stress from cagemates or environment. Check for fighting or overgrooming.
- Cheek Rubbing – Constant rubbing of cheeks on cage bars is a sign of discomfort or stress to investigate.
- Excessive Biting – Repeated cage biting when awake, not just chewing treats, can reflect boredom or stress. Add enrichment.
Know your hamster’s normal behavior to better spot abnormalities requiring a vet visit.