Gerbils & Hamsters/Strange wounds


We got a very nasty surprise earlier when I tried to take my hamster out of his enclosure.  His right front leg is swollen where it meets his body. He also has a large black open wound on his chest the size of a silver dollar and at least two more smaller ones on his back.  They look extremely painful but he's showing no signs of slowing down.  It's strange because yesterday he had no signs of these wounds, though he has been scratching for the last few days. We kept a close eye on him to make sure he wasn't  irritating his skin but this seemed to have developed in less than a day. We were going to give him a salt bath and maybe treat the wounds with ointment. Any idea what's wrong with him?

Hi Jesse

Thanks for your question.  I'm afraid I can't answer your question as this sounds very strange. With wounds like this I would say that he had a tumor that has ruptured but it seems strange that there was nothing obviously wrong before this.  It is also strange that there are other wounds too.  The important thing is to keep the area clean so that it doesn't infect.  Wiping over with a little salt water should help. I would also advise not putting wood chip in his cage until these wounds heal a little - you don't want any foreign bodies getting into them.

I would, however, be inclined to get a vet to check him out and see if they can shed any light on what has happened.  If you don't know of a vet, try and find one who specialises in small animals who might have an idea about this.  Not only are these wounds unusual, I would want to find out why his front leg is swollen too.

I'm sorry I can't be of much help to you.  I would be interested to know what this is if you manage to get a diagnosis.


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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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