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Gerbils & Hamsters/Female teddy bear hamster injury/illness?


Hi, we have a teddy bear hamster that my younger brother bought from a girl his age (12), about two months ago, and given her behavior since she's been with us, she's been happy. Last night we noticed she wasn't very mobile, but just figured she was sleeping. Early this morning, my younger brother was cleaning her cage and we noticed when he took her out to clean it, that it appeared she couldn't straighten her back. It appears to be lopsided/twisted from mid point, but I felt no irregularities in her spine at all, and she's still able to move her hind legs. She's giving no indications of pain at all, and she's not defensive or scared with us. She appears to still be content with us being near and touching her. She has to try best as she can to shift around in our hands to get comfortable enough to sleep. I have no idea what's wrong with her, but she doesn't appear to be in pain.

Hi Tiff

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

How is she today?

It is very difficult to know for sure what is wrong.

Firstly I wondered if she had fallen and injured herself - in which case with rest this should correct itself.  Hamsters can also suffer from strokes, but damage done to them with this tends to be one sided.

How old is this hamster?  Hamsters are very prone to getting tumors from about the age of 18 months.  Often these are abdominal and you don't know they have them until they grow so large that they affect their spine/walking.  What is her body shape like?  Is it normal or does she appear to have lost a little weight on her top half and got bigger on her bottom half?  Has there been any increase in drinking water lately (this is usually a sign there is a tumor on the way). If the tumor is abdominal and it gets large it can cause a hamster to arch their back, walk awkwardly or even fall over as they can't get their balance.

If she is still like this now I would be tempted to get a vet to check her out.  If you don't know of any locally it is worth telephoning one or two to see if they have a small animal specialist.  Also, check their fees as they tend to offer much reduced ones for hamsters but it is worth establishing this before you go.

They will be able to feel along her spine and legs to check that there are no injuries.  They will also be able to feel her abdomen to check for any tumor.  If this is a tumor, then it depends on how fast it is growing.  Surgery is not an option for internal tumors as the hamster probably wouldn't survive anaesthesia for such a big operation, but your vet might be able to put her on pain relief etc. to make sure she has quality of life.  From what you have told me, however, it sounds as though she is feeling fine in herself, so hopefully this is just a temporary problem that will sort itself out in time.

I hope you get on OK.


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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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