Welcome to Dashing Hamsters. I created this website back in 2005, initially to have a place to share my love of hamsters. Throughout the years I have come across a lot of information that just often doesn't match up. Care standards and information are outdated, and these little creatures are misunderstood by many. So I decided to make this website as more than just a hamster lover's website, but a hamster website for modern owners who are looking for up to date advice on how to care for and understand their beloved hamsters. On DH you can learn about hamsters, see some cute pictures and read through a hamster filled blog.

Health and Illness

     When hamsters become ill they can go downhill quickly. Throughout your hamster's life you may have to go to a vet so it is best to locate a rodent-experienced vet before you actually need one. Talk to the vet and ask some basic questions in order to gauge their hamster knowledge and ask how much experience they have with hamsters. Not all vets are equal and many don't have a clue about hamsters and only know outdated facts. You may not be able to find a a rodent-experienced vet so you need to find one that is willing to learn how to treat rodents. 
It is also best that you start putting money aside right from the start so that if you need a vet later on, you will have to money to give your hamster the care that it deserves. As long as they are kept in a clean cage and are cared for properly they should live in good health. 
This website is not a replacement for a vet and since HW is geared towards general information and basic care I will not be going into a great detail over illnesses, though I will cover some common problems.

Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate that your hamster is ill:
- Sleeps more than usual
- Loss of appetite
- No longer grooming him/herself
- Having difficulty moving around
- Loss of fur
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes
- Wet bottom
- Hamster droppings should be rod-shaped. (Watery droppings indicate too much fresh foods and dry droppings indicate not enough)

In order to help keep your hamster calm if you believe they are ill or hurt be sure to keep their body temperature isn't too cool or too hot. Keep the room as dark as possible to reduce stress, don't keep it pitch black when you need to see what you're doing though. Some people also suggest putting a bit of lavender in the cage as the smell can help sooth their nerves and reduce stress.

If your hamster is put on antibiotics by your veterinarian be sure to give your hamster about a quarter teaspoon of plain, unsweetened yogurt as it contains beneficial bacteria that helps keep their digestive system balanced, as the antibiotics kill the flora in the hamsters gut as a side effect.


     Hamsters are susceptible to catching colds, often from humans. In order to avoid this you should wash your hands prior to handling your hamster. If you are sick you should do your best to not handle your hamster. Wash your hands before feeding, watering or cleaning the cage and if you need to sneeze or cough then walk away. Symptoms of a cold include a runny nose, sniffles and irritability. If your hamster does seem to have a cold keep your hamster out of drafts and in a warm place. Immediate action must be taken as hamsters can and have died from colds and you need to get to a vet as soon as possible.


Teeth Issues

     Since hamsters teeth continuously grow, you don't have to worry about cavities, as eventually the infection would grow out. Keeping something for your hamster to chew on (check the Supplies page for more info) will keep his incisors the right size. A hamsters teeth should be a yellowy-orange colour, white teeth indicate lack of nutrients and a proper diet should fix this.

If you notice that your hamster's teeth look over grown and they aren't eating much then you should get your hamster to a vet. Your hamster may have an alignment issue, meaning that they cannot wear down their teeth properly as the teeth are not aligned and your hamster will likely require teeth-trimming for the rest of his or her life. If one tooth is broken then you should get to a vet so that they can straighten the teeth out. Feeding extra de-shelled sunflower seeds which contain Vitamin E will aid in the growth of the teeth.

Teeth issues can cause huge problems such as not allowing the hamster to eat or even having their teeth grow into the roof of their mouth and so should be dealt with immediately.


 Cuts and Wounds

     Hamsters sometimes get a scratch or a bite, it happens and what is important is that it does not get infected. If it seems really deep, does not stop bleeding or looks infected then you must get to a vet. Otherwise artificial, that is not serious, wounds can be dealt with at home. The best way to keep it clean is to make up some Thyme tea. Dried or fresh Thyme is a herb that helps deal wounds and keeps them clean. All you have to do is boil some water and then let the thyme steep in the water for about five minutes. After that you need to let the thyme tea cool until it is about lukewarm. Then use a cotton swab or a Q-tip to dab some of the tea onto the wound allowing it to air dry. Doing this twice a day until the wound scabs over should suffice.

Recently I've heard that putting some 'Manuka Honey' directly on the wound after using the thyme tea can help the wound heal quickly and cleanly. You put on only the tiniest bit, enough to cover the wound. It keeps the wound free of dirt and such, and it has some excellent healing qualities. It's not like regular honey and it is pretty expensive but it is well worth the cost.



     Hamsters can become infested with some parasites such as mites or lice. These parasites cannot be passed onto other animals or to humans though I have seen them shared by rodents. Mites and lice are passed around from other rodents, from food and from substrates. Freezing food and substrate prior to use for two to three days will kill and parasites and eggs. If your hamster does seem to have some sort of parasite (you can only see some of them) then you should see a vet to be sure. The best way to get rid of them is to use Revolution. Revolution is made for cats or dogs. A drop of it between the shoulder blades will get rid of any parasites and another drop of it should be administered after 30 days just to be safe. Lice have a short off-host lifespan but mites have a longer off-host lifespan so it is important to do that second treatment. Revolution can be prescribed by a vet or bought online. You also need to clean the entire room that your hamster is kept in in order to be sure that you get rid of those nasty parasites.



     Any hamster can get diabetes though it is uncommon in all species besides Russian Campbell dwarfs, Winter White dwarfs and RC/WW hybrids. Symptoms of diabetes include: excessive drinking and urinating, lethargic behaviour and sudden weight changes. In order to be sure that your hamster has diabetes you should get urine test strips from a pharmacy and follow the instructions. If your hamster has diabetes or you have a species that is prone to diabetes and you just want to be careful then you need to put your hamster on a strict diet, which can be found on the Supplies page, under 'Food and Nutrition'.

For the full article of Diabetes, please follow this link: Diabetes in Hamsters.

I have recently heard of giving Fenugreek seeds to diabetic hamsters. Here's a quote from Hamsterhideout.com:

You can find fenugreek seeds (powders added to water are generally unsuccessful) in health-food stores of organic supermarkets. If you don't have one of these stores in your area I'm sure a variety of sites ship the herbs. They're generally inexpensive, around 5 dollars for way more than you'll ever need.

Once you have the fenugreek you should start to feed your hamsters these seeds. The quantity should probably be in the amount between 3-10 seeds per day. The amount should NOT exceed 20 per day. [Otherwise this could cause hypoglycemia]  You are going to have to play with the amount, you can tell by how your hamster responds to treatment. One thing that I absolutely recommend is to divide your hamster's dose per day into two groups, one to be fed during the day and the other at night. The larger quantity should be during the day. So, for example, if you give your hamster 5 seeds per day you could divide the seeds so that 3 or 4 are fed in the morning and one was fed at night. (I feed my hamster 10 seeds, 6 in the morning and 4 at night).
For more information click here:
Using Fenugreek with Diabetic Hamsters.



     If a hamster is exposed to very low temperatures, it is likely he or she will fall into a state of "hibernation". Hamsters don't actually hibernate but they will curl up and fall into a very deep sleep, it is a state of shock not true hibernation. The word hibernation is misused in this case. While some species do hibernate in the wild, no domestic hamster should ever hibernate. Some owners have even mistaken their hamsters as dead while they are in this state. It is very dangerous for a hamster to go into this state as they could eventually die; either from the cold, from dehydration or from stress. Hamsters must be woken up gradually. Place your hamster in a warm (not hot) area. Heating him up too quickly can cause him to go into shock. Holding your hamster in your hands and allowing your own body heat to warm the hamster is the best way to do this while gently rubbing their body to stimulate blood flow. Your hamster may tremble as he starts to come round and should be back to his normal self within a few hours. Once he is fully awake make sure he isn't dehydrated (check the paragraph on dehydration for more info and how to deal with it) and make sure that it doesn't happen again as it is quite hard on their little bodies.


Wet Tail

     Is highly contagious and is fatal if not treated right away.
Symptoms include:

  • severe diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • soft and wet feces
  • hunched over posture
  • lethargy 
  • a wet, soiled and smelly rear end. 
Only Syrians can get Wet Tail and only syrians 12 weeks and under. It can be brought on by stress which lowers the immune system and results in a bacterial attack of the hamster's gastro-intestinal tract. Stress can come from new environments, rough treatment and improper handling. It takes seven days for severe symptoms to show up so if you suspect Wet Tail get your hamster to a vet right away, it can mean life or death. Keep in mind that diarrhea itself is not wet tail. Wet tail is a term that has been misused by many, including some vets. Wet tail is a very specific bacterial disease that attacks the digestive tract of Syrian hamsters who are 12 weeks old and under. After 12 weeks of age Syrians develop a resistance to the bacteria and cannot get wet tail anymore. Wet tail was first recorded to be seen in Syrians in 1958.

In order to treat Wet Tail you should separate the hamster from any other immediately and then consult a vet for an antibiotic such as Baytril. In order to feed the antibiotic mix it in some plain yogurt so that it hides the taste. Remove and fruits, vegetables or wet food during this time, only dry foods. When cleaning the cage disinfect thoroughly and keep some of the old bedding to leave the hamsters scent within the cage. Make sure that water is readily available to keep the hamster hydrated.

Prevention is the best medicine. If the hamsters seem ill when you are obtaining them, then don't get any. Also try to keep your hamsters first few days as free from stress as possible. Also don't bother with 'Wet Tail Prevention' drops found at pet stores. They are a waste of money and may cause more harm than good. These will also not cure Wet Tail.



     Dehydration is often a symptom of something else, so be sure to check monitor your hamster closely. Symptoms of dehydration include lethargy. To determine if your hamster is dehydrated then gently pinch the skin on your hamsters scruff (between the shoulder blades). If the skin goes back to place slowly then your hamster is dehydrated. To rehydrate add either Pedialyte or another drink containing an electrolyte to your hamsters water. Be sure that your hamster can reach the water bottle and that the water bottle is working. If your hamster does not have Wet Tail or diarrhea than you can also provide a food high in water content such as cucumber.



     An abscess is an infection from a cut or wound and is a lump that is filled with puss. Often the best course of action is to have a vet lance the abscess to drain the puss. I have had success with making a paste to draw out the puss and to keep it clean. I use Epsom salt with warm water to create a paste to put on the abscess for 10-15 minutes twice a day. It may be a pain (for me) but it has worked so far for me. If the abscess is near the face or isn't going away after a week or so then I would get your ham to a vet and not take any chances.



     Diarrhea isn't pleasant to deal with at all. Diarrhea can be from too much wet food, stress or may be a symptom of some other illness. If you've just fed your hamster new wet foods (fruits/veggies) or a larger portion of fresh foods than usual then this may be the cause. In this case try cutting back on the wet foods a little and see if that brings the feces back to a more solid form. Some hamsters experience diarrhea while under stress, if this seems to be the case then try your best to eliminate anything that may be stressing your hamster. Otherwise you need to look into what else may be the reason for the diarrhea; it may be a symptom of something else such as Wet Tail for example.

     If your hamster has diarrhea then feeding it a couple of raspberry leaves can help settle their digestive track.

Cheek Pouch Impaction
     Hamsters have cheek pouches that allow them to store food, bedding or whatever else they wish to carry and transport with ease. Sometimes something sharp or sticky can cause the cheek pouch to become impacted, where they cannot empty their pouch properly and can lead to infection. Symptoms of this is that they do not seem to empty their cheek pouch, usually just one and they continually attempt to empty it to no avail. In order to help your hamster you will need to seek a rodent-experienced veterinarian so that they can flush out their cheek pouch out to rid the pouch of anything stuck inside so the pouch may heal.  As always prevention is the best medicine, avoiding sharp foods and sticky foods is the best way to ensure optimum cheek pouch health.

Lumps and Tumours
Not all lumps are tumours, they could be abscesses (see above) for example. However it is best to visit your veterinarian in order to determine if the tumour is cancerous or if it is caused by something easy to treat. Depending on the location of the tumour, the hamster them self and the experience of your vet, the tumour may be able to be removed. Otherwise not much can be done except to make your hamster comfortable.

Star Gazing and Odd Behaviours
Some lines of hamsters seem to produce hamsters with behavioural disorders. They are often termed as a neurological disorder or simply as Star Gazing. The term ‘Star Gazing’ itself comes from a behaviour that causes the hamster to stand on their hind legs, gaze upward (toward the stars) and either flip over or fall on their back; this behaviour is often repeated and is compulsive and involuntary, meaning they cannot control this behaviour. Also included under this term are behaviours such as compulsive spinning and pacing. No one knows for certain what causes these issues to pop up, but they are largely believed to be genetic. These behaviours can have varying causes however, not all of them being genetic.

Symptoms include repetitive pacing, circling or back flipping. 

There are several things that can cause these behaviours and so a vet should be consulted to determine the cause and then the treatment. Most often it is genetic and cannot be cured. In order to be treated however the best results are found in providing a low stress environment in a single level cage. Should the behaviours become too extreme and cause the hamster to stop eating, drinking and sleeping than euthanization should be considered. Click here for more information on Star Gazing.

First Aid Kit
No one can ever really predict when an emergency will strike and hamsters seem to be really good at falling ill or getting hurt at odd hours making it difficult to find help when you really need it. A First Aid Kit is important to have on hand for such times or even for minor occurrences that can be taken care of at home. Below I have compiled a list of items that would be helpful and in some cases mandatory in a first aid kit. This is just a quick reference list for more information on the uses of each object please click here:   First Aid Kit.
  1. List of exotic vets in your area
  2. Storage Container
  3. Money
  4. Q-tips
  5. Oral syringes
  6. Fine tweezers
  7. Hot water bottle/ Heating pad/ Heat lamp
  8. Nail Clippers
  9. Surgical gauze, pads, bandages, first aid tape
  10. Toothbrush
  11. Bayer’s Keto-Diastix
  12. Bitter apple spray
  13. Cotton swabs
  14. Ear/Eye wipes
  15. Sanitary wipes
  16. Scissors
  17. Travel and Hospital cage
  18. Gram scale
  19. Nebulizer
  20. Latex (or any medical grade gloves) gloves
  21. Small Towel
  22. Hand Sanitizer
  23. Penlight
  24. Magnifying glass
  25. Black Light
  26. Saline solution or eye cleansing drops (ex: Polysporin for eyes)
  27. Olive Oil/ Cod Liver Oil
  28. Unflavoured Pedialyte/ Recipe & Ingredients for Rehydration solution: (Recipe:1 tsp of salt
    3 tbsp sugar
    1 quart warm water
    It can keep for 48 hours if refrigerated.)
  29. Water
  30. Manuka honey UMF +16
  31. Pure organic Aloe or Aloe vera plant
  32. Chlorhexidine
  33. Fresh thyme
  34. Revolution/ Invectermin , parasite treatment
  35. Epsom salt
  36. Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
  37. Benebac or plain yogurt
  38. Styptic powder or flour
  39. Ensure, Baby food/cereal