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Gerbils & Hamsters/Mysterious Purple Lump


Hi. Recently, a purple lump the size of a quarter appeared on my hamster's chest. I'm not sure what breed she is, but she's all white with black eyes. She is 1 year and 7 months old. I've noticed that she's been eating more after getting that. I'm not sure if it's a tumor. I've noticed that her urine is orange and her bottom is dirtied with that pee. I don't think it's wet tail. Her bottom is not dry and as shriveled up. How long will she survive with that purple lump? I can't afford to go to a vet. I'm not old enough to get a job. Do you know what that purple lump is, exactly? I think it's getting a tiny bit bigger everyday. Will the lump keep growing until she passes away? Will the lump ever be as big as her whole body? She's already starting to have less strength. Is she suffering from pain?

Hi Sarah

thanks for your question.  I'm sorry to hear about your hamster.  

This certainly does sound like a tumor.  It is very difficult to know how aggressive it is, or how quickly it will affect her.

Some hamsters can live with tumors for a long time, but sadly others can't.  Also, if there is one tumor, sometimes there are others either internal or superficial.  With a superficial lump the important thing is that it doesn't rupture and infect.  Keep a close watch on it to make sure that it doesn't bleed or show signs of infection/pus etc. If it does get large it may well rupture, or she might even chew it.  if this is the case you must carefully wipe the area with salt water to try and prevent infection.  If this is superficial, then there is a chance that a vet can remove it.  However, surgery would be dependent on whether or not the tumor is attached to anything internally, and also the general condition of the hamster.  Anaesthesia carries high risks for older hamsters or those with a compromised immune system.  

It is worth perhaps photographing the lump or measuring it so that you can see exactly how fast it is growing.  Also, you might want to weigh your hamster every evening to see if she is losing any weight.  Often when there is a tumor, the hamster increases their water consumption.

Try and get her eating - tempt her with her favourite foods - sunflower seeds, cheese, scrambled egg etc. are all favourites.  You could also give baby food - I find that mine love the creamy porridge oat variety that comes in powder form and is mixed with water.  This will help give her extra nutrients and try and keep her strength up. Also ensure she has hard foods too such as the dry hamster mix, dog biscuits etc. otherwise her teeth with over-grow.

If the tumor is very aggressive and she is clearly looking dull and unwell, then she really does need to see a vet.  if this does happen, phone one or two to find out if they have a vet who specialises in hamsters, and also check their fee.  Most will offer a much reduced fee for a hamster, and it is always worth speaking to them and explaining the situation regarding finances as they may be able to let you pay in instalments if necessary.  the important thing is to make sure that she doesn't suffer at all.

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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