Gerbils & Hamsters/red eye/tears

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Question
I have a syrian hamster that is a little over three months old. When she was a little over a month old I noticed her eye seemed to be bleeding and one of her incisors on top was crooked, protruding. I now know that her eye isnt bleeding but its red tears. It appears that she snagged her tooth in some tubing because their were red droplets all inside it. Well she began sneezing and was not eating well. I monitered her condition over the next week. I called the local vets but they are expensive and have limited knowledge of hamsters. I researched what to do. I was worried her tooth was affecting her breathing or was pushing on her brain. So with my sisters help we pulled the injured tooth. There was a bit of blood intially. I cleaned her eye and made sure every hour there was no blood blocking her nose. After a couple of days she was eating better and her sneezing stopped. She isalmost three and half. She eats the hamster food, her incisor is yellow like it should be, she is active and curious. But her eye continues to have red tears and gets glued shut when she sleeps. I thought it could be conjunctivitis, I gave her some probiotics. I cleaned her eye three times a day. After a week no change. So I moved on to allergies. I use aspen but changed to paper towels, then I tried paper crinkles, then carefresh. No change. She can open her eye on her own  after cleaning but I help her sometimes. Im unsure what to do. I have tried many things. The red tears are her only symptom. Could it be from pulling her tooth? I examine her teeth all the time she is healed no blood good coloring.she just is missing her tooth. Or could it be some allergy? other cause? could she just be a hamster with a runny eye. Her affected eye does not protrude as much as the other but she also is missing the tooth on that side. Her mom and dad our hamsters that had a surprise encounter. And eneded with 12 hamster babies. Cinnamon is the only one with any problems. If you could offer any suggestions about what to do or what it could be, I woukd really appreciate it.

Answer
Hi Rebekah

Thanks for your question.

Regarding her teeth - these can be very long and providing they aren't so long that they touch the roof of the mouth/cut into the top of the mouth then they are fine, but sometimes they do need trimming.  They can break teeth and this can cause abnormal growth and again, if this happens they need carefully trimming them.  The fact that you have pulled the tooth, I'm not sure if this will grow back, or how the other tooth will grow - you need to check it regularly to make sure that it is growing towards the opposite tooth - if it isn't and is getting long, just carefully trim it with a good pair of cutters.  Don't pull it out as she will need this too as she is missing the other one.

Regarding her eye - hamsters have glands at the back of their eyes that produce a reddish fluid.  This is normal.  It can look like blood, but is actual just a lubricating fluid.  Some hamsters produce more than others, and in these cases it can cause the eye to close and remain shut.  It is important that the hamster opens their eyes on a daily basis, so if you hamster can't then gently wipe around the eye with a warm damp cloth to remove any 'crustiness'.

Whils this is normal for a hamster, overproduction of this fluid is normally an indication of something else that is wrong - i.e. poor immune system.

Hamsters eyes do protrude and this can be damaged with poor handling etc. so it is important not to scruff a hamster.  They can also get eye infections, but these do need to be treated with an antibiotic eye ointment that you either get from a vet or some pet shops will sell it.  You must make sure it is safe for hamsters.

This could be allergy related and you are right to change the bedding to see if this works.  Beddings that contain pine, cypress or cedar can cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties.  Therefore it is important to make sure you don't use one of these.

Apart from this how is she behaving? Is she eating/drinking normally?  Does she appear happy - bright and energetic, or is she dull?

It is difficult to know for sure what is happening.  If she is fine in herself apart from this then I would just make sure her eyes open daily and help with the damp cloth if necessary.  Also keep a close watch on her teeth.  If she deteriorates, or is clearly unhappy, then I would strongly advise getting her to a vet or getting someone to have a look.  Some pet shops are very knowledgeable and may be able to advise you on this.

Sorry I can't be more specific as it is hard to know without seeing her.  I hope this helps, however.

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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