Hamsters can be a joy to live with, with their cute little faces and amusing antics. However, like most pets (and humans), hamsters are susceptible to parasites.
Our Head Vet, Alun Edwards, explains that hamster parasites are common. Parasites are organisms that live on or inside hosts, getting their supply of nutrients from the host and causing them irritation and potential harm.
Generally, parasites are not extremely dangerous for hamsters, but they can cause itchiness, constipation, and weight loss amongst other health issues. Read Alun’s information on hamster parasites below and contact us if you need further advice.
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Common hamster parasites
Dwarf tapeworms are the most common internal hamster parasite; when contracted they live in the small intestine often without causing major issues. Alun advises that large tapeworm burdens can cause internal blockages/constipation, which you would see as a reduction in stools or a swollen/discoloured abdomen or anus, and weight loss, which need to be dealt with promptly.
Mouse pinworms are less common that tapeworms and will live in part of the large intestine if your hamster becomes a host. The most common issue with pinworms is itching of the anus.
Hamster mites - Demodex
The most common external hamster parasites are Demodex mites - two species of tiny mites that cause itching and hair loss when they infect hair follicles. Other signs are dry and scaling skin, scabbing, and dandruff.
Ear mites - Notoedres
The Notoedres family of ear mites can be miserable for hamsters. Infestations can cause crusting/lesions on the hamster’s ears, face, genitalia, and feet. Hamster mite treatment should be started as soon as possible so do contact us for advice.
Diagnosing hamster parasites
Alun wants hamster owners to know the importance of getting their pet checked out by a Vet as soon as possible if there are signs of parasites. External hamster mites can sometimes be spotted on the skin as well as causing the above symptoms.
If you suspect hamster mites or worms, give us a call on 01527 889810 and we can book you in with a hamster Vet in Bromsgrove for diagnosis and treatment.
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Can you prevent hamster parasites?
Making sure your hamster and their environment are clean is the best way to prevent hamster mites and worms. Hamsters are usually pretty good at cleaning themselves, but a sand bath will aid this - water or powder baths are not advised. A clean hamster cage will be sanitised regularly with pet-safe products, and free of soiled bedding, stools, insects, and flies. It is also important to keep rodents away from your home as much as possible as these can be hosts to parasites.
So, there you have it, Alun’s guide to hamster parasites. Remember we are here to help, so be sure to contact us if you need further advice.
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