Greasy hamster fur can be attributed to overactive scent glands or keeping them in a hot room. Check for dry and irritated skin if the hamster’s coat is dry yet messy.
If the fur appears greasy near the rear end, it could have wet tail disease (proliferative ileitis) or diarrhea.
If the hamster isn’t grooming, it may be because it’s unable to move and contort sufficiently. Consider whether this is due to old age, weight gain, injury, or sickness.
Why is My Hamster’s Fur Sticking Up?
Dry skin will likely be responsible if a hamster is grooming but unable to keep its fur under control. There are three explanations for greasy-looking fur:
Various mite species can attach themselves to a hamster and live within its habitat. Many mites are near-invisible to the naked eye and harmless to hamsters.
Alas, mites can still become a nuisance. Demodex criceti and Demodex aurati are the most common mites found on hamsters, although Laboratory Animals warns of nasal mites.
If the hamster has aggressive mites, it’ll soon become apparent because it’ll seemingly spend every waking moment grooming but remain incapable of maintaining neat, tidy fur.
Bald patches will start to appear on the hamster’s fur over time.
Mites are a pest that must be eliminated. Consult a vet for a treatment that’ll terminate the mite infestation. Then, thoroughly clean everything in the hamster’s environment.
This involves deep cleaning the tank, replacing the substrate, and boiling wooden toys, decorations, and furnishings. This process should be performed regularly until the mites are completely gone.
Hamsters can experience allergies to anything in their environment.
An allergic reaction will lead to a hamster scratching and itching constantly, so it’ll be unable to maintain its usual grooming standards.
You may also find that allergies cause sneezing. If a hamster regularly releases wet sneezes, nasal discharge may be rubbed into the coat.
Allergies can be treated by removing the allergy exposure. Consider anything in the hamster’s environment that may have changed recently and remove it.
Eventually, this process of elimination will yield results, and the hamster’s symptoms will cease.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that dries out the skin.
It’s named after the characteristic rings the fungi leave on the skin. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine stated that ringworm is uncommon in hamsters.
It’s hard to miss ringworm because the hamster will scratch near-constantly and likely have bald patches of fur, revealing raised, bumpy, and red marks on the skin.
The hamster will need a prescription for antifungal shampoo or cream.
Why Does My Hamster’s Fur Look Wet?
Hamsters can swim, and some play in the water, but most hamsters prefer to remain dry. If the hamster’s fur looks damp, it’s unlikely it took a recreational dip in the water.
You’ll need to identify the cause of the hamster’s wet aesthetic by picking up the hamster and looking for signs of urine or feces on its fur. Damp fecal matter is particularly concerning.
If you’re asking yourself, “Why does my hamster look sweaty?” the answer may be straightforward – the hamster is too hot. Despite hailing from the desert, hamsters are sensitive to excessive temperatures.
The ideal ambient temperature for a hamster is between 65°F and 75°F.
Anything above 80°F puts the hamster at risk of heatstroke. The hamster will be in significant distress even if heatstroke is avoided.
Hamsters that live in solid habitats are most at risk of growing hot and sweaty. If the hamster lives in a cage, ventilation will be available. If the hamster’s tank is made of glass, it could grow uncomfortably hot.
Keep the hamster’s cage away from direct heat, such as a window or radiator. Also, keep a thermometer in the hamster’s habitat. If this apparatus soars toward 80°F, rehome the hamster temporarily.
Excitement and Stimulation
Hamsters have scent glands that produce oils that make a coat look greasy. On some occasions, a hamster will produce more oil than normal.
Some hamsters produce more oil than others, which is most apparent when they’re excited or overstimulated. These glands are on the flanks of a Syrian hamster and the belly of a dwarf hamster.
Scent glands are used to mark and claim territory. As per Physiology & Behavior, a female hamster in heat will also scent-mark the habitat of a preferred breeding partner.
These glands are cleaned routinely, but a stressed or excited hamster will lick to excess. Monitor the hamster’s scent glands, ensuring they’re not inflamed or swollen.
The most concerning explanation for damp fur on a hamster is wet tail disease (proliferative ileitis).
Wet tail takes its name from its main symptom, dampness around the hamster’s short, stubby tail. This is caused by loose diarrhea clinging to the anus.
Wet tail is a bacterial infection caused by stress and anxiety. Ceskoslovenska Patologie also links the condition to tumors in the digestive tract, referring to wet tail as an intestinal precancer.
Wet tail is common in young hamsters, especially those who quickly move from breeder to pet store to owner’s home. When a hamster develops wet tail, bacteria multiply in the gut.
- Loss of appetite
- Dull, lifeless eyes
- Blood in the feces
If you suspect that a hamster has wet tail, consult a vet immediately. Wet tail is a life-threatening condition that won’t clear up without treatment.
Wet tail is often fatal if left untreated, sometimes in as little as 48 hours. Treatment will take the form of antibiotics, which may be chewable or administered as drops.
All hamsters can get slightly greasy or unkempt fur occasionally, but this isn’t normal.