A hamster with fleas isn’t a common sight, but I’ve heard stories about this. Anyone, at any point, can get fleas. But what about hamsters ? Do hamster fleas get on humans too ?
So do hamsters get fleas ?
Yes, unfortunately hamsters can and do get fleas. Not all hamsters, all the time, but if there is a flea infestation in the house, your hamster can get a few fleas of his own.
This has more to do with the nature of the fleas themselves, than the hamster.
You see fleas will look for anything furry and/or warm to settle into. The worst part is that they can live for a long time in hiding, even with no host.
So your hamster can even get a flea from an blanket you haven’t used in a year but kept in the attic.
Let’s see how you can help your hamster friend when fleas attack.
How to check if your hamster has fleas
Alright, fleas are fairly easy to spot. Usually you’ll notice small black dots moving on your hamster, in his fur. Those are the fleas, if here is more than one. If there’s just one, it might be harder to spot.
You’ll notice your hamster is in distress however when he scratches himself much more often than normal, and very much in some specific areas where the flea bit him.
The hamster might even make a few angry sounds, as he’s not used to the terrible itch of a flea bite.
Sometimes the hamster will try to bite where he thinks the flea is, or try to lick it off, and you’ll notice wet, matted spots on your hamster’s fur.
If you see a large black dot on either side of your Syrian hamster’s hips, do not worry. Those are the scent glands. The Dwarf types have them on their bellies.
Another way to check if the hamster has a flea is to gently comb through his fur with your fingers. Slowly part every bit of the hamster’s fur, and at some point you will notice a tiny black dot running away.
Finally, you can also check for flea dirt. That’s basically flea droppings. You see the flea feeds on blood, and it’s also what the droppings are made of.
So you’ll see something like tiny splotches of dried blood, and if you add a few drops of water you’ll notice them becoming red.
Fleas feed very often throughout the day, so if you found flea droppings today, the flea is definitely still there.
If you’ve got a dark haired, or even black hamster, this will be harder to spot. However the flea will be shinier than the hamster’s fur, but you will only notice if you look very closely.
Unfortunately most hamsters don’t sit still very long so you’ll have to be patient.
Treating your hamster of a flea infestation
Flea treatments are possible yes, but with hamsters it’s a little different. This is because the vast majority of flea shots are okay for cats or dogs – so larger animals – but may be poisonous for small animals.
So something like a guinea pig, hamster, chinchilla, even a rat, could not take such a shot.
There definitely are some flea treatments that are safe for hamsters. But that’s something your veterinarian will be able to tell you. It varies from country to country, in terms of what each country decides is safe in terms of ingredients.
Talk to your veterinarian, and ask him about flea treatments for your pet hamster. He will surely know what to do. If you’ve never gone to a vet with your hamster before, be sure to look for an ”exotics” vet. There are vets that have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds, and can help you.
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Make sure to clean and treat the entire house
After you’ve got a treatment from your vet, you’ll also need to deep clean the hamster’s cage. This means completely replacing the bedding and nesting material, and cleaning/disinfecting the objects in his cage.
Your vet will be able to give you a good disinfectant, that’s good for the cage and your hammy’s nose. Use said solution to clean everything that your hamster has touched, or will touch. Like his hideout, running wheel, food bowl, everything.
The reason behind this is because fleas lay eggs, so many eggs – about 50 eggs a day – which will get everywhere in the cage. The bedding, the sandbath, every nook and cranny possible. They can even get into the carpets, even if your hamster was never on the carpet.
This will mean whatever pets you’ve got, they will need a flea treatment of their own. Aside form this, the house itself will need a flea bomb.
Fleas are hard to kick out of the house, but they’re easier to prevent. So once you get fleas, you will need to purge everything.
After that’s all done with, a yearly flea bomb will be necessary to keep flea eggs and larvae away. You see, after hatching from their egg, flea larvae can survive for months without a host.
This is because they’re hiding in the base of the fibers of the carpets or linens, feeding off dead skin or dropped food, or any other random small parasites they might find.
Preventing fleas from getting to your hamster
The first way to prevent your hamster from getting fleas is to keep him away from any animals that you know have fleas.
Housepets rarely get fleas. However if this does happen, make sure whichever pet is infested can’t reach your hamster’s room until they’ve had a flea treatment.
If it’s you who has the flea, try to not get near your hamster until you’ve gotten rid of the flea.
Do keep in mind though, that even if you try very hard to keep the flea away from the hamster, it will possibly not work. Fleas can jump very far, and travel easily from a host to another.
Even something as small and innocent as petting a flea-infested cat can get the flea on you.
When you sit the down the flea can jump off you and stop on the carpet outside the bathroom, where the dog will pick it up and jump on your bed. Which just happens to be next to the hamster’s cage.
This might all sound very convoluted, but if you’ve ever had a flea, you know what I’m talking about. Fleas are notoriously hard to catch.
The simplest and most reliable way to keep fleas away from your hamster, and incidentally your house, is a regular flea bomb. And keeping a flea collar on the pets you own, or giving them periodic flea shots.
How fleas get in the house in the first place
Fleas can get in your home even by just jumping by. Now, granted, fleas don’t stay long without a host. So it will probably get into your home by a chain of happenings that starts from petting or playing with an infested animal.
The bigger problem is that once a flea has entered your house, it can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Those eggs will end up everywhere in the house, and they’ve hard to see.
A regular adult flea is just 2-3 mm/0.8-011 inches, barely noticeable. The eggs are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Once the eggs have landed in a fuzzy, cozy spot they can hatch in up to 12 days.
Once they hatch, they become larvae and that stage can take a few weeks too. In the winter when it is cold and dry, it can even last up to 200 days.
In this stage the larvae feed off dead skin and other organic cells on the ground. After this, they cocoon into the pupae stage, and finally become full adults. This whole process can take up to a year in certain conditions.
You can find more info on the life cycle of fleas on this site, including how to rid them from your home.
So the problems isn’t with how the flea gets into your home – that’s easy enough. But when it’s already in the house. Again, a regular, periodic flea-bomb will keep the whole house safe.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies don’t really know what to do with fleas, we don’t normally get them in the wild. But we’re glad you can help us out !
If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the related videos below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us properly, and keep us happy.