How to prevent hamster diseases
A hamster is a rodent that belongs to the cricetinae sub family. Hamsters are stout bodied, have small furry ears, stocky short legs and wide feet. They are crepuscular animals that burrow underground during the day to protect themselves from predictors. There main diet includes the nuts, fresh fruits, berries, dried foods and vegetables. They have an elongated pouch at the side of their head extending to the shoulders. This elongated pouch is used to store food to be eaten later or brought back to the colony. Hamsters have become popular small house pets over the years. Hamsters have a life span of 2-3 years but some can live longer is well taken care of. During its life time, a hamster is prone to many different diseases like all other animals. However, with early diagnosis and treatment of hamster diseases, it can live a long and happy life.
Types of hamster diseases
- Cancer: this is among the most common hamster diseases. The risk of contracting cancer among hamster increases with age and is higher among female hamsters. Cancer is triggered by living in stressful environments. Cancer of the hormone producing organs is common among hamsters. Cancer hamster diseases cause hair loss, changes in behavior and hormone imbalance. Due to its small size, it becomes difficult to treat or remove the internal cancer growth.
- Abscesses: are mainly caused by bit wounds as a result of fighting. When the wounds become infected, they form abscesses that appear as firm painful limps under the skin. Abscesses on the pouch can be as a result if bad bedding materials or harsh foods. They are treated with antibiotics or they are opened and the pus is drained.
- Torpodity: this occurs due to lack of exercise. Hamsters gain weight if they lack enough physical exercise. To prevent these hamster diseases, put a wheel in the cage.
- Bladder stones: they are characterized by frequent urination, straining during urination, blood in the urine, increased water consumption and in appetence. The stone may be removed and antibiotic therapy administered after the removal. Diet management should be encouraged to prevent recurrence and also to help dissolve the stones.
- Salmonellosis: caused by consumption of food that is contaminated with organisms. It can be avoided through thorough washing of fresh fruits and vegetables before feeding the hamster. It can present itself as a sudden illness or long standing hamster diseases that cause weight loss.
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis: it is a viral hamster disease that can be transmitted to humans. It is prone to places with high rodent population. To prevent this disease, hamster owners should restrict contact of their pet hamsters with the wild rodents.
Symptoms of hamster diseases
- Behavior change: observe the hamster's normal behavior during the day. If you observe changes like poor relation with other hamster roommates or poor eating habits, then it could suggest infestation of some hamster diseases.
- Coat and fur: a health hamster has a sleek coat and fur. If the coat and fur looks dull and wet or ruffled and dry, it may be a sign that the hamster is suffering from a certain disease.
- Eyes: the eyes of a healthy hamster are bright and alert. If you notice some discharge from the eyes, crusty part or a dull and sunken appearance, it is a very good sign of hamster diseases.
- Tail: wet tail due to fecal matter or urine is a sign of hamster diseases. If the hamster does not move away from where it does it business, then it means that it has some serious illness that needs attention.
- Nose: a healthy hamster's nose is dry. A running nose could be an indication of cold or other related viruses.
How to prevent hamster diseases
- Avoid a hamster cage location that would cause cold from windows or air conditioners as cold weakens a hamster's immune system.
- Provide plenty hiding places for the hamster as this would make it comfortable, happy and reduce stress.
- Hamsters are adapted to live in low humid areas. It is therefore good to regulate the humidity and dampness in the hamster's cage.
- Provide the hamster with friendly toys to play with that won't affect its health if it swallows them.
- Provide a good habitat for the hamster that will prevent it from falling, getting cut or stuck.
- Place plenty of exercise materials in the hamsters to reduce boredom and hamster diseases that are caused by lack of enough exercise.