Signs of illness include:

  • Poor coat condition, posture
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Squeaky, laboured or otherwise noisy breathing.
  • Lethargic and cool to the touch
  • Lack of interest in food or water
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Excessive scratching


Abscesses are fluid-filled lumps that are usually caused by fights or injuries. They will need vet attention to be drained, and a course of antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection.


Excess scratching, sneezing, runny or swollen eyes are signs that your hamster may have an allergy. It is worth switching their bedding and substrate to see if this can solve the problem, although if you see no improvement after a few days then it will require a vet visit. If your hamsters has a wet tail or bottom however this requires urgent attention - see Wet Tail below for details.


Campbells Russian Dwarf Hamster are prone to this and care must be taken with their diet to remove excess sugar. Signs of diabetes in hamsters include excess thirst and frequent urination.


This can be found in Winter White Hamsters. Sadly there is currently no cure, but your vet can prescribe eye drops.

Tyzzer's Disease

This is a highly contagious and often fatal disease. It can occur in hamsters without developing any symptoms, although others will show lethargy, ill-kept coat and diarrhoea. Tyzzer's Disease is caused by stress and unclean environments so can be mostly prevented with good hygiene practices.

Wet Tail

Wet Tail is a form of watery diarrhoea that is extremely serious in hamsters, if left untreated your hamster will die of dehydration. Wet tail can be caused by poor or stressful conditions, and is sadly quite common in hamsters bought from pet shops or unethical breeders.

Wet tail is mostly seen in Syrian Hamsters. Any hamster with suspected Wet tail must be isolated as it can be highly contagious. Immediate vet treatment is needed.