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Gerbils & Hamsters/Syrian Hamster snorting/sniffing



Two days ago I bought a female syrian hamster, the clerk told me it was 3 - 4 months old.
When I got home I put it in her cage that was previously cleaned, washed and completely dry. But then she started to make this little noises like snorting/sniffing with little jumps, she did it for seconds and stopped, but then she would do them again. I used pine shavings for bedding, because she was like that at the store. I start to look for answers on the internet, and I found out that pine may cause allergic reactions on hamsters, so later that day I changed her bedding for carefresh but she kept doing it.  She looks normal and active, her eyes are bright and her nose seems fine, not wet or something like that. I'm worry because I don't know what can it be. She hasn't been exposed to sick people or airflow. I even have half of the cage cover with a soft blanket because my room it's been a little cold ( 17C - 20).

Please help me, what could it be?

Thank you!

Hi Scarlett

Thanks for your question.

Hamsters can develop allergies and this is typical behaviour.  Pine bedding can cause problems as it contains an oil that can irritate a hamster. There could also be something in the room - such as air freshener, even the plug in types or pot pourri that is irritating her.  Perfumes or flower scent can cause a problem.  

I suggest you monitor her - make sure there are no plants near her cage, and that nothing is sprayed near her.  Sometimes it is very difficult to identify what makes a hamster sneeze.  Providing she is bright eyed, doesn't have a runny nose and generally looks well, then there is nothing to worry about.  Hamsters can get colds and in these cases their symptoms are similar to humans in that they look unwell, have watery eyes and a runny nose.  In cases like this it is important to get urgent veterinary advice and keep the hamster warm and give them plenty of fluids.

You might find that her reaction is purely because of a change in her environment and hopefully once she gets used to it this sneezing might stop.

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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