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Sick Hamster - Signs and Treatment of Abscess in Hamsters

Updated on February 16, 2010

Hamster Lump

If your hamster has an abnormal lump anywhere on the body, you should definitely find a veterinarian that is familiar with small animals so that you can have the lump diagnosed. It may be a simple abscessĀ  caused by an infection, but it could be a tumor. Without veterinary assistance, that's something that you won't be able ot have diagnosed over the internet.

For the most part if your hamster has a lump, a veterinarian is your only solution. Even an abscess caused by an infection is pretty important to have treated. If you don't get your hamster treated, the prognosis isn't going to be on the positive side, but with treatment your hamster should heal within a few weeks.

Causes of an Abscess

Abscesses can be caused by many different things, and are most common when hamsters are housed in groups. The most common cause is a bite, wound, or scratch that has become infected, typically caused by another hamster. Remember that teddy bear hamsters (Syrian hamsters) are best when housed by themselves, whereas most dwarf species can be housed in groups.

Another common cause of an abscess is when sharp objects get stuck or scratch the pouches in your hamster's cheeks.

Basically, when the immune system tries to heal the infection, the pus will start to develop underneath the skin, which results in a bump surrounded by a swollen area. So, whether the hamster received a scratch from another hamster, pet, or sharp object, an abscess can develop while the body is trying to heal the wound.

Signs of an Abscess

An abscess is generally pretty easy to spot. It's a bulge or bump on the hamster's body that is not normally there. It may be hard or soft, depending on what type of abscess it is - cancerous or just irritation.

If it looks like your hamster has his cheeks full all the time, it may be an abscess, which should be looked at, as a cheek abscess can potentially cause stomach issues later on if left untreated. Plus, it's probably a little painful, which can lead to lack of appetite.

You may notice that your hamster isn't eating as much, he may have a general ill appearance. He may be more lethargic, and he may not exercise as much.

Depending on where the abscess is, the effects may vary. Hamsters with lumps around their legs may have trouble moving, whereas lumps in and around the mouth, may cause trouble eating and drinking.

Treating a Hamster Abscess

A vet will need to diagnose the abscess to determine if it is cancerous or not. But, in terms of a basic abscess, a vet will want to drain it. The vet will more than likely flush the abscess with a saline solution to clean it out and ensure that he was able to remove all of the infection, and then your hamster will probably be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent further infection.

You want to have the abscess treated as soon as you can because if it continues to grow and end up busting, which can cause an infection.

If your vet determines the lump to be a tumor, he may be able to remove it if it's an external tumor. If it's an internal tumor, it may be too late, as internal tumors are usually diagnosed very late in the game. Removal will depend on whether the vet feels like your hamster will be able to survive the surgery and make a good recovery. In some cases, the lump may be a fatty tumor, which is benign and your hamster will live fine without having surgery unless the tumor starts to hinder eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating, or if the tumor starts to drag, which can potentially become infected.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.

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    • profile image

      Michele 

      8 months ago

      My granddaughter just got a teddy bear hamster and we noticed that it has a lump on its left side just below its ear. It feels like a bumpy kind of lump not smooth and it moves quite freely. It also appears that there may be a small one on the right side. Does anybody know what this might be?

    • profile image

      Evan 

      17 months ago

      my hamster has a bump on his eye that sounds just like this but he also has los of eating and is slow he is a very old hamster maybe 3 or 4 years old but he still moves whe he is hapel like he is 1 year or when they are still growing.

    • profile image

      gareth [my hamster has a bump under its mouth] 

      2 years ago

      hi my hamster has a bump under its mouth she is not even one yet and i am wondering how bad it is . It tarted a mabey 4 houres ago on 9\19\16 pease help I would love it.

    • profile image

      hannah 

      3 years ago

      my hampster is sick, me and mom are taking chewy to the vets he is ok

      monday, they are not open today. he has a big lump. i hope he is ok.

    • profile image

      lacey 

      4 years ago

      Im 12 and iv had my dwarf hamster for about 3 years and I need help. Theres a like a big bump on the side of his body and it keeps getting biger! I put medicane on it but he wont stop bitting or scratching it!! I don't know if it's a tumor or If its absessed but hes had it for a while....please help me

    • profile image

      ethan 

      4 years ago

      my dwarf hamster called ash has and abscess in her cheek and it is making her eye pop out! she keeps bleeding from her eye and I don't know what to do! i am only 12 and my old hamster died of an abscess! the vets costs a fortune so i really need help as fast as possible! thnx! i would love to be happy again, that is only possible if ash gets better though! thnx

    • Anthea Carson profile image

      Anthea Carson 

      6 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Thank you for this helpful hub. My daughter has a hamster with an abscess, and we went to the vet. the hamster is still on antibiotics but once she was off the pain medicine she started biting it again. Should we just keep her on the pain medicine a little longer? We called the vet, but I wondered if you had any experience with this.

    • profile image

      victoria 

      6 years ago

      hi im victoria im 11

      my hamster whitey is really fat and when i carried her i felt a bump. i flipped her over and it was like a yellow bump but it was a little red is this an abcess plzz tell me. thnx

    • profile image

      Skylar 

      6 years ago

      I am scared I don't know if my hamster has a tumor or not help me it is spongy it's a small ball near it's cheek my dad said we will get it checked up if it does not get better I am scared if it is too late help me!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      chloe 

      7 years ago

      his ive got a hamster that has got abscess i am very upset and i cant take it to the vet what should i do please it will help me be happy agin

    • profile image

      freja 

      7 years ago

      Hi Zagorka,

      Did Archibald get well again? I just noticed an abcess on one of my beloved roborovski hamsters, probably due to a bite from his brother, and am taking him to the vet tomorrow. Any advice?

    • profile image

      zagorka 

      7 years ago

      it's preety hard to deal with this disease.(abscess) My hamster suffers and I am helpless. The vet told me to have to cut his leg.I can+t beleive. Is there any treatement to help my sweet Archibald do get well?

      Many thanks

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