Being a responsible hamster parent means being able to know how to properly take care of your hamster in both good and bad situations. When it comes to bad situations the hamster can easily suffer from several illnesses and health conditions. This includes conditions that their eyes may suffer. So, are your hamster’s eyes closed and, if yes, what is causing their eyes to be closed?
Closed hamster eyes are also called sticky eyes, which is a common problem in most hamsters. This happens when the hamster secretes fluids from its eyes whenever it is sleeping so that the eyes stay moist. However, the fluid may end up drying up and hardening around the eyes of the hamster preventing it from opening them.
Sticky eye is a really common problem that hamsters often go through because it is simply one of the inconveniences that come with one of their natural bodily functions. But, even though it might only be an inconvenience, the sticky eye may still make life a lot more difficult for your hamster because it won’t be able to see. That is why you should know more about sticky eye so that you would be able to help your pet the next time it suffers from this condition.
What causes a sticky eye in hamsters?
At a lot of points in your life, you may have yawned whenever you were so sleepy and your eyes began releasing fluids that will eventually dry up around your eyes and harden. This is also common early in the morning upon waking up when the fluids that your eyes released while you were sleeping had dried up to form some sort of sand-like sediments around your eyes. Hence, that is where the sandman concept comes from.
While you may have experienced this as a human, animals also go through a similar experience as well. Yes, this includes your pet hamsters and a lot of other animals as the sandman of the animal world also tends to visit them while they are sleeping.
However, the difference here when it comes to you and your hamster is that it can be a bit more serious when it comes to your pocket-sized pet. When a hamster is sleeping, its eyes need to secrete a fluid that is meant to keep their eyes moist because dry eyes can eventually lead to serious health conditions. But the fluids secreted by their eyes will eventually dry up and harden around the eyes. When that happens, the dried-up fluid can actually shut the hamster’s eyes close like glue.
Sticky eye is much more common in hamsters that are a bit older because of how they need their eyes to secrete more fluid. However, even younger hamsters may also end up suffering from this condition as well. Sticky eye normally doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age even though it is more common in older hamsters. As such, it is one of the most common problems that hamsters face on a regular basis.
Still, if you notice that your hamster is suffering from eyes that have been shut closed, you shouldn’t conclude right away that it is suffering from sticky eye because there are still some other possible causes for its condition. This includes foreign objects such as dust that may have entered the hamster’s eye. Pink eye is also one of the more common reasons for a hamster to shut its eyes closed as those swollen eyes together with the regular discharge coming from its eyes will naturally force the hamster’s eyes to close.
How to treat sticky eye in hamsters?
The good news for you is that the normal sticky eye that hamsters suffer from on a regular basis don’t require immediate attention from a veterinarian. In fact, most sticky eye cases can be remedied at home even if you are not an expert in handling hamsters. All you have to do is to follow these simple steps:
1. Hold the hamster gently
Get your hamster and hold it as gently as possible so that you won’t end up harming it. However, make sure that you are still applying a bit of pressure so that the hamster won’t end up slipping away from your hand and run away. You need to make sure that you are holding it firmly so that the little fella won’t be able to escape from you but, at the same time, won’t feel like you are hurting it.
2. Go get a cotton swab or a Q tip and wet it with lukewarm water
Find a cotton swab or a Q tip in your home and wet it with lukewarm water. If you don’t have a Q tip in your household, you may use a washcloth but you should make sure that you are using a clean washcloth and that it should also be wet with lukewarm water. The Q tip or the washcloth will serve as your main cleaning tool for treating your hamster’s sticky eye.
3. Gently wipe the crusted substances off of the hamster’s eye
At this point, you may be asking why can’t we just pull the hamster’s eyelids open or try to scratch the crusted substances off the eyes of the hamster. Well, the reason why we aren’t doing that is that the substance has become similar to glue in the sense that forcing the eyelids apart can possibly damage the hamster’s eyes.
As such, what we need to do here is to use the Q tip or the washcloth to gently wipe away the crusted substances. The moisture from the wet Q tip or cloth will soften the dried up substance to make it easier for you to wipe it off the eyes of your hamster. Gently break the substance down until it is easier and easier for you to wipe it away.
In some cases, holding the Q tip or washcloth on the eyes of your hamster may already be enough for the substance to soften up to the point that the hamster will be able to open its eyes again. However, if the hamster doesn’t open its eyes even after a few minutes, you have to wipe the substance off of its eyes using a gentle brushing stroke that won’t hurt the little fella.
4. Open the hamster’s eye in a gentle manner
If the hamster doesn’t open its eye by itself after you have washed away the dried up fluids around its eyelids, you may have to open its eyes yourself. Trust us when we say that some hamsters are too afraid to open their eyes thinking that the dried-up substance is still there. In such a case, what you need to do is to gently pull the eyelids apart using your fingers.
However, if you are finding it difficult to do this or if the hamster is resisting, stop right there. Go get another Q tip or washcloth and repeat the same process over and over again because there might be some stubborn dried up fluids that you probably missed the first time around. Repeat the same steps until it becomes easier for you to open the hamster’s eyelids using your fingers or until the hamster itself will be willing enough to open his eyes by itself.
5. Preventing sticky eye
After you have treated the hamster’s sticky eye, the best way for you to prevent it from happening again is to make sure that you regularly wash around its eyes. This allows you to prevent the buildup of any dried up fluid.
However, if the problem still persists or if your hamster is quite prone to this condition, you may have to bring it to a vet so that your hamster can get checked for any other possible reason why it is getting sticky eyes more often than most other hamsters.
Can sticky eye kill a hamster?
Another good news about hamster sticky eye is that it is not fatal or even very harmful to the hamster on a regular basis. In most cases, sticky eye is an inconvenience that will prevent your hamster from being able to see because it can’t even open its eyes.
However, this can be a precursor to other more serious problems such as when your hamster can’t eat or drink water because it can’t even see. In some cases, your hamster may even find itself bumping into objects due to their impaired eyesight. That is why you have to make sure that you treat sticky eye as soon as possible even though it generally isn’t very harmful much less fatal.