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Gerbils & Hamsters/Possible mastitis..


A couple of months ago I bought a female white Russian dwarf hamster, and well about three weeks later there were little squeaks coming out of her home and there were 7 healthy babies. The young have already been able to be separated by sex and the girls are still with mom. I can't say I have seen her feeding the remaining hamsters, but I noticed today one of her nipples was red and swollen; no discharge was noted and it did not feel hot to me. I tried to apply a warm compress, but I wanted advice on if I should take her away from the others just in case the smaller one is trying to feed still. I had heard it could prove deadly for her or the young and well, I don't want that, nor do I want any of her kids irritating it more and making her stressed. She seems to act normally, but it is hard to say since the increased activity around her makes her less sensitive to the noise I might make, so she doesn't always wake up, but she still climbs around, is eating, gets along with her daughters and still comes to my hands. Anyway, I know there is a lot there, but I figure details are helpful here. I plan on calling a vet around here that specializes in small pets, to take her in, but with Friday being tomorrow, and unless I get lucky and they allow me to come in with her, I will have to take care of it for the weekend so it doesn't get worse. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to what you are able to tell me.

Hi Alana

Thanks for your question - sorry for the late response.

You have done exactly the right thing with the compress. If this is mastitis then she will need to see a vet and be prescribed antibiotics. She should not be allowed to have another litter as she will be prone to this.

Regarding her girls - it would be a shame to separate her as she would need to live alone as it is difficult introducing dwarf hamsters however if she is very sick she might become vulnerable and be picked on.

It would be worth finding out the diagnosis from the vet and then deciding - if a course of antibiotics will do the trick then she should be fine.

You could give the babies some baby food. I tend to get the creamy porridge oat powdered variety that you add water to. This is full of nutrients and hamsters love this - this might stop them going to mum for food. Mum will enjoy this too. Also give seeds and a little cooked egg or small piece of cheese in with their standard dry mix.

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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