Gerbils & Hamsters/stinky cage


Hi Sheila
Ebon, my one year old black bear hamster has a smelly cage.  I used to use a hamster potty for her, which she used, but as she got older, she used it less and less.  Eventually she didn't use it at all.  She prefers to do all of her toileting up in her bed, which is made of plastic and accessed through an enclosed plastic tunnel.  I give her cage a total clean out once a week and remove all her bedding, food, and waste from her loft in between.  3 days after her cage is totally cleaned out, I notice that not only does her loft, which I call her bed, is smelly, but she is too.  I have used the chinchilla dust bath in the past, but she didn't seem to know what to do with it.  I'm too nervous about giving her a bath because I know that bathing a hamster isn't a good idea.  I use Care fresh ultra soft premium pet bedding, as I have allergies to the pine chips.

I've also noticed a couple months ago she started developing a bald spot on the top of her back.  Since I had given her a tiny piece of cheese, I thought it was an allergic reaction, now I think that her Bach is rubbing against the roof of the tunnel which leads to her loft. The tunnel is in two pieces so if i remove the roof half, I should still be able to use it.  I hope that I won't have to buy a new all wire cage, but if I do, I will.

Hi Jinene

Thanks for your question.

Some hamsters are smellier than others.  Some are incredibly clean - always pee in a corner of their cage, but unfortunately others pee on their food or in their nest.  They are marking their territory. Also female hamsters can have a strong odour. It is difficult to deal with this and you have done all the right things and I think you need to continue to do this.  

The thing that does concern me though is that she is rubbing her back - you don't want her to rub herself raw which could then infect.  I would strongly advise that you remove the roof of the tunnel if you can so that she doesn't rub herself along it. You could get some teatree cream from a pet shop - this is a natural antiseptic - and apply it to her back if it looks sore.  This might prevent it from getting any worse.

I suggest you see if this makes a difference before spending any money on a new wire cage for her.

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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