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Gerbils & Hamsters/dwarf hamster itching


We have a dwarf hamster who is itching and has lost a patch of hair across one side over his back hip.  We have looked in his fur and don't see any black spots moving around to indicate mites.  His cage was very dirty when we cleaned it this time, I think we had forgot to clean it when we should have.  We do use aspen bedding as well.  Do we need to take him to the vet, or bathe him?
Thanks for your time.

Hi Crista

Thanks for your question.

Your hamster might have mites as these can be found in bedding however they are difficult to treat in dwarf hamsters because the treatment for mites is designed for Syrians and it is hard to calculate the dosage.  It could also be an allergy. It would be worth changing his bedding for a week to see if there is any improvement.  If you just give him paper bedding you will need to clean him out  daily.

Providing his skin isn't broken or bleeding you could give him a dust bath. You can buy chinchilla dust - put some in a low dish and he will roll around in this which will clean him. If his skin is sore or broken don't use this - instead you could apply a little teatree cream - you buy this in pet shops and it is safe for animals as it is a natural antiseptic. This might help.

If the condition doesn't start to improve after a few days or he gets worse then it would be a good idea to see if you can find a vet who treats small animals.

I 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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