Gerbils & Hamsters/swollen face


my hamster
my hamster  
I have a dwarf hamster not sure what kind but i noticed his/her face is swollen and i don't know what from nothing has changed in diet or anything for it to be allergic but I'm worried about him/her its two years old can you please give me some advice i haven't seen any blood just swelling?

Hi Marcus

Thanks for your question. Sorry for the delay in responding.

Regarding your hamster, this looks like a full cheek pouch. Hamsters have pouches that go from their mouth to around their waist.  Some hamsters empty these, others tend to fill them.  The times you need to be concerned are if they don't empty them either because they have pouched something that has caused a blockage - i.e. fatty hamster treats can melt in their pouches and stick, or if they scratch their cheek pouch with something sharp.

Does your hamster still have a 'lump'?  If so, gently put your thumb behind it and very slowly try to move whatever it is that is in it.  If this is food then it should move and chances are that if you move it enough the hamster will then empty her cheek pouch.  

If when you touch it it doesn't move, see if you can gently place your fingers around it.  Hamsters of this age are very prone to getting tumors and it could be something like this, or it could be an infected cheek pouch where something has scratched it.  Check to see if there is any unpleasant smell or if there is any sign of pus.

If there is pus etc. which could indicate infection then she would need antibiotics from a vet.  However, I suspect it could just be pouched food.

I hope this helps you.


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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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