Gerbils & Hamsters/Dwarf hamster


Hi Sheila I have asked you questions in the past and have another one that you may have some idea on. I have just rescued a dwarf hamster. Unfortunately I have no idea of the critters past or age etc. She's very active and bites like she means it! I don't think she's ever been handled or if she has it wasn't in a positive way. I noticed that she over grooms her lower abdomen and there is no longer fur around her lower 4 nipples or anus. She has also chewed some of the fur off her upper back legs. I have had hamsters with mites in the past and I don't think that's what it is. The skin looks irritated but there are no pustules. The rest of the hamster has nice fur and she is not losing fur. She isn't particularly itchy. I also noticed a dark brown waxy substance on her scent gland on her belly. I didn't know if may be that could be blocked??? I'm hoping that the change in pine bedding to a nice carefresh (paper unscented) bedding might make a difference. She's difficult to handle, even with the fleece gloves, quite a little spitfire. I didn't want to poke at her too much and stress her out. I've just had her a week. Hoping she's not pregnant, but don't think so, I think she may be older but that's just a guess. I did have another hamster with similar issues a couple of years ago and she ended up getting tumors in that region; hoping it's not that. Any thoughts?? Thanks for your time.


It's good to hear from you - apologies for the long delay in responding.

Dwarf hamsters can be nippy - I've had some that I've never been able to handle properly.

Regarding her fur - I would suggest very gently squeezing her scent gland to see if any muck comes out of it.  They can get blocked, and I've known some to infect and cause irritation.  This area is prone to tumors, as you have found in the past, but hopefully it is nothing like this.

Dwarf hamsters are hard to treat for mites due to their tiny size and lack of medication available.  Have you tried any natural ointments on her skin/fur?  You could try teatree cream or aloe vera to see if this calms it down a bit and stops her scratching.

You are right about changing pine bedding as this can cause skin irritation due to the volatile oil it contains.

Hope this helps.


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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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