How can I tell if my hamster is sick?

Hamster image by Annekathrin Kohout from

Due to their small size, when a hamster falls ill, there can be as little as 24 hours to save it. Hamsters can develop serious diseases like wet tail, and even catch colds from their owners. Signs of an illness often go unnoticed for days due to the hamster's varied sleep schedule.

A sick hamster can be spotted if you know what to look for.

Observe your hamster's behaviour daily. A hamster who is suddenly slow, lethargic, sleeping more, suddenly biting without cause or who has stopped grooming himself may be ill. Any major change in behaviour can be a sign that something is just not right.

Examine your hamster. Use your hands to gently feel for bumps on her body. Make sure your hamster is not losing any fur and that her eyes have not become dull or watery. A wet tail and hind end are signs of a serious illness called wet tail, and your hamster must see a veterinarian immediately.

Check the food and water in your hamster's cage. There is a chance he is ill if your hamster is no longer eating or drinking, and his condition will become worsen quickly due to dehydration and malnutrition.

Check your hamster's urine and faeces. Look for any blood in either, and make sure her faeces are solid.