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Gerbils & Hamsters/Is my hamster in danger?


QUESTION: my 1.5 years old syrian hamster is not well. about 6 days ago she became very aggrasive, and bites everyone comes near her. then she had diarrhea for 2 days but now much better.
the last3 days, she has been sleeping almost all day, and yesterday she started peeing on her self, and can barely left her head.i'm getting her to drink water, eat some yogurt and other food, but she is so sleepy and lethargy.
now she still peeing on her self, i can't determine her stool, when i wake her her breathing becomes fast,and wants to sleep.
i didn't change her king of bedding or diet since i had her about a 1.3 year ago.
what can I do? we don't have pocket pet vets, and vets here doen't care at all about hamsters (in arabic country)!
please help


thanks for your question

I'm sorry to hear about your hamster.  She does sound ill.  The aggression is likely to be because she is in pain.

Ideally, she should see a vet, but I understand that you don't have any small pet vets where you live.

She could be suffering from some form of infection that causes pain - such as pyometra.  This needs to be treated with antibiotics, which you would need to get from a vet.  I don't know where else you could get them from.

Another thing that could be causing her behaviour is a tumor.  Hamsters are very prone to getting tumors at this age, and if she has an abdominal one it could be putting pressure on internal organs or her spine.  Is there any sign of pus or blood coming from her rear end?  If she is peeing herself, then she is finding it difficult to move due to either of the above.

Although you don't have small pet vets I would still be tempted to phone one or two in case there is one who is sympathetic to you.  The last thing you want is your hamster suffering.

In the meantime, the only pain relief you could try is aspirin.  Can you get this where you live?  If so, you want a standard dose tablet, crumble it - you need to give just 1/25th of this so you are looking at a tiny amount.  Alternatively if dissolve it in 2.5ml of water, then give 0.1ml of the diluted dose.  This might help, although there is no guarantee.  Without actually see in her it is impossible to know for sure what is wrong, and if this will help her, but it might be worth a try.  Be careful when handling her as if she is in pain she will try to bite you, so you might need to wear a glove.

Make sure she has plenty of food and water nearby, and try and clean her nest daily so that she isn't sleeping in soiled bedding.

I hope this helps you.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you so much for your answer, and for being so sympathetic.
unfortunately, my hammy passed away this afternoon, as you asked for blood in the rear end, today in the morning, there was blood, she ate a little bit, then deteriorated till she passed away :(
by the way, I'm a doctor, and when I examined her belly, she found to have like-tumor your expectations was right.
thank you so much again. wishing you all the best

Hi Sana

Thanks for the update - I'm really sorry to hear that she died, but she did sound very ill.

It doesn't surprise me that you were able to feel a mass in her abdomen - this is very common in hamsters.  often you don't know they are there - sometimes you notice an increase in water consumption, or the hamster appears to lose weight on their top half, but their bottom half goes quite rounded - but sometimes you only notice there is a problem once the mass is large enough that it is putting pressure on them.  Often they can't walk at this stage, and when there is blood then you know that something has ruptured.  Sadly there is nothing that can be done in cases like this and the usual treatment is euthanasia.

I'm glad that your hamster is no longer in any pain.  If you decide to get another hamster, do let me know - I would be happy to send you through a free copy of a book I wrote a few years ago with my vet.  you might find it helpful as you don't have access to veterinary treatment where you live.  Let me know and I'll give you my private email address for you to send mailing details.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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