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Gerbils & Hamsters/Why does my hamster have a dent in his fur? Also does he have a tumour?

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This is the "dent"
This is the "dent"  

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For awhile now I've noticed that my 5 month old syrian hamster Shane Botwin has had a weird dent on either side of his back. The hair in it is a bit circular and kind of looks like it was stitched in??? It's hard to describe, but it's very odd. On the outside there's also a weird brownish colour fur. What is this??

Also, I noticed that there is a growth on his testicles and I don't know if that's supposed to be normal or not? It wasn't there a couple weeks ago? Is this a tumor or abscess and should I take him to see a vet?

Shane Botwin has been eating normally and aside from those problems looks perfectly healthy, he's running around and he's also drinking as much as he should. The lump is a different story, but the patch I thought could be from stress? I keep him in the living room where there is a lot of loud noise (my family is VERY LOUD no matter how much I tell them to keep their voices down --- my dad also loves to keep the TV volume extremely high) and he has been there for about a month or two. I put him in my room where it's much quieter to see if that might help because with my past hamsters one of them got wet-tail after being in the living room area for a couple days, ridiculous!!! But that's a whole 'nother problem lol....

Do I need to take him to a vet or will this heal on its own??? What exactly is wrong with him??? And is there anything I can do to help in the meantime??

Answer
Hi Lilah

Thanks for your questions.

I think that Shane Botwin is probably fine.

The 'dents' in his fur are his scent glands.  Syrians have these on their hips - they are symmetrical.  Sometimes the fur is thin around them, and and the scent gland itself is a brownish spot.  If you see him rolling around in his cage, he is putting his scent down.  Some hamsters scent glands are quite obvious - it really depends on how thick their coat is.  Also, they do tend to wash them a lot, which makes them even more obvious.  So these are nothing to worry about.

Regarding the 'lump' - again I suspect this could be normal.  The testicles in Syrian males can look very odd at times - sometimes you get this extra 'lump', other times they are very lopsided. Their testicles can also look different when they first come out of their nest, or in the warmer weather. Syrians can develop testicular cancer, but this isn't that common (I've had loads of hamsters over the years and never had one with this), and there would be other symptoms if this were the case.  Usually with any form of cancer there is a change in the water consumption in that it increases quite dramatically as the tumor is growing.  The hamster can also become lethargic, or behave differently from normal.  If Shane Botwin is acting normally, then this is probably nothing to worry about. If you are still worried then a vet would be able to confirm if there is a problem.

In terms of having the cage in a 'loud' part of the house - this is never recommended.  Hamsters can get stressed and develop wet tail as you discovered.  It is important to make sure the cage isn't right by a TV or radio, or in direct line of the sound through the speakers.  Also, the cage must not be near a window where they can over-heat.  The best place is in a quieter part of the house if possible, where the temperature is fairly constant and there is no damp or smells (i.e. don't put the cage in a garage).

I hope this helps you and puts your mind at rest.

Regards
Sheila

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Sheila Adby

Expertise

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 www.thehamstersite.com

Experience

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: www.thehamstersite.com

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

Education/Credentials
Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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