We all love our pets and enjoy spending time with them, but it’s our duty to take care of them and keep them healthy. Many animals develop dermatological problems with age, shedding fur to the point where they’ve completely lost it, and hamsters are no different. It’s terrible to see your hamster lose its fur, as that’s the animal’s equivalent of humans being left without clothes on. Whenever we can, we should try to help our pet.
That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article: hamster fur loss. We’ll be taking a look at the reasons for your hamster’s fur loss and how to treat it. As these causes can vary from stress to old age, and the fur loss can appear at different places, keep in mind that there’s a lot to this topic, and you should visit a vet if this article can’t help you.
Today, we’ll be covering hamster fur loss on their backs and behind their ears, and we’ll also be taking a look at flaky skin and fur loss due to old age, as well.
Let’s get started!
1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back.
There are many reasons why your hamster may be losing its fur. Friction is one of the most common reasons for this.
If you’ve noticed your hamster losing fur after they’ve spent a lot of time burrowing or rubbing against the cage or toys, then friction is likely the reason for them losing fur. This is actually natural for hamsters, and you shouldn’t be worried. When they’re in the wild, they spend a lot of time digging and burrowing, so this is a normal process for them. Hamsters can also develop face sores from rubbing their face against the bars of the wire cage, or by water dripping down their face when they’re drinking. If it’s the latter, then you have to buy a better water bottle. If it’s the former, it may be a sign that the cage is too small, so you should get a larger cage for your hamster (preferably not a wire one).
Even though many people find hamsters running on wheels amusing, overuse can lead to the hamster losing fur on its legs. Remove the wheel until the hamster’s fur grows back.
Secondly, your hamster may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is, clearly, a lot more serious than simple friction, and it’s just as common. If your hamster’s diet is low in vitamin B, then that could be the reason for its fur loss. Another thing that can also have an effect on fur loss is the lack of protein. If you think that this is the problem, you’re going to have to start supplementing your hamster’s meals with certain foods. Add unsweetened cereal, cheese, cooked eggs, whole-wheat pasta, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to talk to your vet, as well, and if they recommend it, you can add water-soluble vitamins to their diet.
Another unfortunate cause for fur loss can be found in parasites – ticks, fleas, ringworm, and mites are all capable of affecting your pet’s hair. If you notice that your hamster’s constantly itchy and it’s scratching itself – that may be because of ectoparasites. This excessive scratching is what’s causing the fur loss, and you should definitely contact your vet for assistance.
Hamsters rarely get ticks, because ticks are mostly found outdoors, and hamsters rarely venture outdoors. Most ticks lay dormant during the winter, aside from a few species, and the only way for your hamster to contract a tick is for you or someone else to bring it in the house. If your hamster has contracted a tick, they’ll be scratching that area a lot – this is because they feel the bite from the tick and it causes an itch.
When we’re talking about fleas, they’re also very rare for hamsters. However, when a hamster does contract fleas, they can shed all of their furs away. It’s easy to determine whether your hamster actually has fleas since they’re visible to the naked eye. You can also see their droppings, which look like small black dots on your hamster’s skin, easily. If your hamster does have fleas, all you have to do is buy one of the products made for clearing fleas off. There are many products for all furry animals, but try to find a product specifically for hamsters.
It’s much more likely that you’ll find mites on your hamster than fleas or ticks. These are invisible to the naked eye, so it’s almost impossible for you to identify them on your own. They won’t cause any problems if they’re small in numbers, but if your hamster has a weakened immune system, irregular grooming patterns, or is stressed, the mites will increase their numbers. Signs that mites are present in this situation: reddened skin, rough dry patches, and fur loss. The best way to deal with this is by taking your hamster to the vet and let them take skin samples and take a look at it under the microscope.
Mites are treated with topical sprays for hamsters, so make sure to buy that and use it the way it’s instructed on the packaging. Also clean your hamster’s cage, taking everything out and disinfecting it.
A ringworm infection is also possible. All animals can get ringworm, and that includes hamsters. These fungal infections will appear as a distinctive ring of hair loss with flaky, yellowed skin. You have to be careful if you’re handling a hamster with ringworm, because you’re vulnerable to it, as well. Make sure that you’re always wearing gloves, that’s the best way to deal with that.
Ringworm develops in environments that are too humid, so you’re going to want to keep your hamster’s cage properly ventilated. The way to treat ringworm is to wash your hamster with a topical shampoo for ringworm. Most of these contain miconazole, povidone-iodine, or keratolytic, and either of them should do the trick. If your hamster’s hair is already long, you may want to shorten it to ensure that the shampoo gets to all areas and washes everything.
Shedding is another reason for fur loss, but this isn’t a reason you should worry about. Most furry animals shed, most often during spring and fall – it is normal to see periods of thin fur at this time, and keep in mind that Syrian and Russian hamsters tend to shed more than the Chinese and Roborovski types do.
Hot spots are another cause for hamsters losing fur. Hot spots are, however, pretty rare when it comes to hamsters. These spots are actually open wounds, caused by a fungal infection that causes the hamster to scratch and chew their own fur and skin.
To deal with this, take your hamster to the vet.
Another thing that may cause your hamster’s fur loss is allergies. Hamsters can often become allergic to substances in their cages, usually their bedding – this can cause them to develop a rash and lose some fur. Don’t use cedarwood shavings for your hamster’s bedding, this is because oils within the wood are too strong for the hamster’s sensitive skin. Another thing that may cause this is dyed paper bedding, as well as dyed food. This is easy to fix – just find better bedding and provide a better diet to your pet.
There are other possible causes for your hamster’s recent fur loss, but they’re less common and it’s unlikely that either of those things is happening. However, we’ll list them just in case: your hamster may be suffering from kidney inflammations, or T-cell lymphoma – cancer that attacks the skin, hormonal imbalances may be an issue, as well. However, these causes are all very rare and you should exhaust your options with the list of the most common reasons before you even think about any of these serious things.
When discussing the loss of hair specifically on a hamster’s back, you have to understand that the most likely cause for that is one of the causes we’ve already discussed. There are perhaps a few things that cause hamsters to suffer from fur loss in specific areas, but their backs can be affected by any of the things we’ve mentioned. If you’ve noticed that your hamster’s losing hair on its back – it’s most likely because of one of the things we’ve already talked about.
However, another reason why your hamster may be losing fur is because of its age, as older hamsters tend to lose fur, which is exactly what we’ll be talking about in our next section.
2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.
One of the clearest signs of your hamster starting to age is their fur looking sparse and matted. A hamster’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together – this is one of the reasons that makes them so appealing to the eye. However, once they start aging, they start losing their fur, and here’s why.
The fur is mostly defined by genetics – most hamsters are born blind, and they’re also mostly born bald. Unfortunately, some hamsters end up like that in their older days, as well. Once your hamster ages (hamsters live from 2 to 4 years, depending on the species), you will probably start noticing patches of skin where fur simply doesn’t grow – this is because your hamster’s old. Even if your hamster is not balding, you may notice that their hair isn’t as soft and shiny as it was before, but it’s rather sparse.
It can become matte and coarse, which is something that’s deemed odd for hamsters, who are usually shiny. The fur may also start to change color, just like with humans. Your hamster may actually start having their first grey hairs.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for aging, so you can’t exactly fix this.
However, as they age, hamsters are more prone to diseases (just like humans are, as well). So, the reason for your hamster’s hair loss may not be hidden in numbers, but rather in a disease.
Hamsters are also very well-groomed creatures, similar to cats (although those species aren’t exactly the best of friends in real life). They’re usually grooming themselves whenever they’re not eating, sleeping, or playing on the wheel. Their cleanliness is very important to them, as it keeps their scent to a minimum, which is a great defense against predators.
So, if you’ve noticed that your hamster’s hair is less shiny and well-groomed, and is now becoming dustier and more reminiscent of a certain German scientist’s hair – it’s because your hamster’s getting old. Older hamsters can’t clean themselves as well as younger hamsters because of their many physical restrictions, they are also careless.
The most effort usually goes towards cleaning the tops of their little heads and cleaning their flanks, they need to bend around like crazy to reach these spots. These spots are the first you’ll notice are becoming less groomed, because they’re usually the most well-maintained spots.
The result of this is your hamster getting a bit more smelly, which is especially applicable to your hamster’s rear end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection or wet tail.
This actually also refers to the cage, as the hamster will clean their cageless when they’re in their older days. Older hamsters can also lose their hair due to a lack of protein (less than 16%) or iron in their diet.
As we’ve already said, there isn’t really a way for you to affect this. We all get old and you can’t stop your hamster from getting old. Help your pet during this time and ensure that their final days are happy and enjoyable.
3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin.
We’ve already mentioned a few reasons for flaky skin or skin cabs when we were discussing fur loss, but let’s go into detail with them. One of the most common skin diseases that causes both fur loss and flaky skin are mites.
Mites are one of the most common skin diseases in hamsters. If you’re suspecting mites, you won’t be able to identify them on your own in any way, as they’re invisible to the naked eye. You need to take your hamster to the vet. The vet will take a sample of the hamster’s skin and take a look at it under the microscope. Your vet may also brush your hamster while holding a white piece of paper to catch the mites, and then take a look at them using a magnifying glass.
If your vet has diagnosed your hamster with mites, the first thing you need to do is isolate it from all other hamsters, as you don’t want them to get infected, as well. You should also wash your hamsters, and return them to their cages after washing and disinfecting the cages, as well. Mites are contagious, so your healthy hamsters are very likely to catch them if you don’t isolate the ill hamster. If multiple hamsters have already caught mites, then treat them all as prescribed.
After that, you need to treat your hamster as your vet has prescribed. The most common and the most popular treatment with vets is medicated shampoo. However, hamsters don’t really like showers and baths, so they may resist and not let you apply the shampoo and wash them. The alternative to this is medicated ointment that you’ll apply to the affected area.
There are different options when it comes to this: oral ivermectin, which kills parasites, is a treatment option. To apply this, place the prescribed number of drops of this solution in your hamster’s mouth.
There are also anti-mite sprays available. However, they’re mostly an over-the-counter treatment, and you need to discuss this with your vet before you decide to apply it to your pet.
Severe mite infestations are most often treated with a full-body dip. This dip is basically just a medicated bath containing ivermectin. Your vet will explain how to perform this, but know that your hamster could resist because they don’t really like baths.
You may need to repeat this process numerous times, as many hamsters (especially older hamsters or hamsters with lower immunity) need to be treated for mites more than once. Make sure that you discuss this with your vet before you repeat the process.
We’ve already mentioned that it’s important to clean your hamster’s cage before you put them back in. When doing this, wash all of the accessories in the cage; all the toys, water bottles, food bowls, etc. – do this with hot, soapy water.
Use a hamster-safe cage disinfectant, as some other disinfectants may harm the pet. Make sure that everything has dried before you put it all back.
Another disease that may cause skin scabs is ringworm infection. We’ve already discussed this and said that humans can catch ringworm, as well, so make sure that you’re always wearing gloves when dealing with this.
To treat this, you’ll first need to visit the vet, as they need to diagnose the ringworm for you to treat it. You should suspect a ringworm infection is at play if you notice patches of hair loss where the skin looks crusty, flaky, and red. Your vet will take a look at this and take a look at the fur with a microscope – the affected area looks like rings. It’s especially possible if your hamster is older, as older animals have a weaker immunity.
To treat this, follow your vet’s treatment instructions. Firstly, always wear gloves and make sure you’re not making any contact with your hamster or its cage without wearing gloves – humans can also catch ringworms.
One option of treatment is medicated shampoo, containing either povidone-iodine (antibacterial) or antifungal medication. You should cut your hamster’s hair before you go through with the treatment, as it’s very important that they’re completely cleaned. This way, the shampooing will be very effective.
Once again, just like with mites, isolate this hamster from other hamsters and place it in a separated cage (and make sure that all cages are properly cleaned).
Another treatment option is topical treatment with griseofulvin, an antifungal medication. This is an ointment, so if your vet prescribes this, they’ll shave the affected area and you’ll have to apply the ointment.
Know that treatment for ringworm usually lasts between 18 and 21 days, so this isn’t going to be finished very soon.
Make sure that you’re keeping your hamster’s cage ventilated, as it can become damp inside if you don’t. Damp areas are ideal for fungal growth and they’re an increased risk for all kinds of infections, including ringworm. Wire cages usually have great ventilation, so you should consider buying one if you don’t already own one.
Lastly, the most common reason for your hamster’s skin scabs are actually wounds. We’re not talking about wounds caused by diseases or infections, but by your hamster fighting (female hamsters are more likely to bite than male hamsters because they’re more territorial) with its cage mate or getting scratched by sharp bedding. This wound can become infected and it can cause a pocket of infection to form and leak abscess.
Your vet will take a sample of the abscess and will have to surgically remove it and close the wound. After that, you’ll have to apply an ointment on the wounded area for some time. During this time, until your hamster’s wound has completely healed, you’ll need to remove the cause of the wound. This means that you have to isolate that hamster from all the other hamsters, as a fight or biting could reopen the wound and cause even more damage. If the wound was caused by sharp bedding, replace the bedding with something soft.
Here are some other, more simple reasons for your hamster’s flaky skin:
– if you have an older hamster, their skin is naturally weaker and their scabs may be caused by them scratching their belly on their bedding or any other hard surface. Your hamster’s skin will become sensitive when it gets old, so it doesn’t matter if this bedding didn’t cause any problems before.
– you could notice your hamster’s scent gland having sores, this is usually caused by excessive grooming and licking.
4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears.
If your hamster’s getting older, then it’s completely normal for them to lose fur anywhere, including right behind the ears. If this is the case (you should primarily gauge that by its age), you won’t really be able to do anything about that.
However, this doesn’t have to be the only reason. If you’ve also noticed redness or swelling around that same area, it may be because your hamster’s scratching itself too much. This can be caused by a number of reasons – firstly, just like humans, animals sometimes have to scratch themselves for no good reason. Secondly, it may be mites or fleas – this will cause the hamster to scratch themselves to the point of losing fur. You can cancel this out if you’ve recently cleaned their cage and they’ve only started scratching themselves recently – this means that the cause is most likely not mites or fleas.
Thirdly, your hamster may be having an allergic reaction to something. Take a look at their diet and see if anything has changed. Maybe you’ve got a new pet? A dog or a cat and they’re having a reaction to them.
Also, although it’s rare amongst animals, it may be psychosomatic. Maybe your hamster is under a lot of stress for some reason and that’s causing them to scratch their fur out.
If you can’t find a reason for this article, we’d suggest visiting your local vet and let them find out what’s going on.
Hamsters are without a doubt some of the most popular pets in the world. If you have a hamster and you’ve recently noticed that it’s started to lose fur, it’s most likely because of old age. However, if your hamster is not that old and that shouldn’t be happening, then it can be a number of reasons, ranging from dietary restrictions to infections. Make sure to clean your hamster’s cage regularly, even if they’re not having problems with their fur at the moment, as that’s the best way for you to ensure that they don’t start suffering from any issues in the future. If you’re having any further trouble, make sure to call your vet.