Home » Why Is There A Black Spot on My Syrian Hamster? (Hip Spots)
what do black spots on a hamster mean?

Why Is There A Black Spot on My Syrian Hamster? (Hip Spots)

Syrian hamsters can develop infections, skin conditions, and tumors. You must monitor your hamster’s skin and coat to identify problems early.

A Syrian hamster’s skin should be clear and smooth, and its coat should be shiny and free of dry patches. However, you may find that a hamster develops black spots on its fur.

These can be hip stops, which are benign. However, they may also indicate an infected scent gland or tumor. Consequently, black spots still warrant a closer inspection.

Hip Gland Spots Vs. Cancer

Scent glands in Syrian hamsters often have a tumor-like appearance that can be mistaken for cancerous growths, especially in male hamsters.

According to Experimental, the growth of scent glands in Syrian female hamsters usually stops once they’re 21 days old.

Conversely, male scent glands grow until they reach 70 days old, so Syrian male hamsters have more pronounced scent glands.

Just because a hamster has prominent or protruding scent glands doesn’t mean it’s developed a tumor.

Below is a table distinguishing hip glands from cancer growth in hamsters:

Hip GlandsCancer Tumors
Located on the hips/flanks:It can appear anywhere on the skin or body.
No adverse health effects:It’s often accompanied by decreased appetite, weakness, depression, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
Produce noticeable pheromones (scents):In most cases, they don’t produce any distinctive scent.

Why Does My Hamster Have Black Spots?

You might suddenly notice black spots on a Syrian hamster despite your best efforts to maintain a hygienic environment for your pet.

If the cage is well maintained and the hamster is fed a healthy diet, it likely has harmless black spots.

Black spots on a Syrian’s flanks or hips are sebaceous glands (scent glands). While both sexes have these scent glands, they’re more prominent in males than females.

Scent glands are a natural part of a Syrian’s anatomy and aren’t likely to cause any health problems.

These spots grow bigger as the hamster ages, and you may notice a hamster is losing more fur around the hip area as the black spots get bigger.

Males use scent glands to mark their territory by rubbing them against objects.

They deposit scents from these glands, allowing them to associate places within the area. The deposited scents also alert other hamsters that the area is occupied and help them attract mating partners.

Females release scents from their sebaceous glands that signal to males that they’re ready to mate.

According to Physiology & Behavior, sexually mature female hamsters stay near odors from familiar male hamsters for longer compared to those produced by new males.

As Syrian hamsters groom the region where the spots are located, the fur around them may seem oily or damp, which makes the glands appear bigger than they are. Wisps of long hair can also be observed sprouting around the spots in some males, which makes them more prominent.

why does my hamster have a black spot?

Can Scent Glands Get Infected?

Scent glands can become infected when exposed to pathogens. Also, a hamster’s scent glands may become cancerous, but this is rare. If you suspect a hamster’s scent glands are infected, vet-prescribed topical antibiotic cream will clear the infection.

Knowing what a healthy hamster’s scent glands look like is helpful if you’re a first-time owner. This makes it easy to recognize whether a Syrian hamster has an infection or tumor. 

A hamster’s scent glands appear flat, bald, and greasy. This is common if the hamster licks the area as it grooms itself. Don’t be alarmed if you notice a musky odor emanating from the hamster’s scent glands because these indicate that a hamster is maturing normally. 

Illness or tumorous growths surrounding the scent gland can occur in Syrians. So, check for unusual changes to the appearance of the scent glands.

The symptoms of infected hamster scent glands include:

  • An inflamed or swollen scent gland.
  • Constantly biting, licking, and scratching the scent gland.
  • Blood or pus oozing from the scent gland.
  • A hunched posture and reluctance to move (a sign of pain).
  • Inexplicable aggression from the hamster, particularly when you touch or pick it up.

If you notice these signs, irrespective of the severity, take the hamster to a vet.

Can Hamsters Have Moles?

Hamsters don’t develop moles like humans and other pets.

A large scent gland or a rounded scab is the only growth resembling a mole. This can be created if your hamster gets into a fight or rubs against something sharp.

Also, hamsters don’t develop skin tags. If you notice such a mark, look more closely to ensure it’s a sebaceous gland, not a possible tumor.

How To Clean A Hamster’s Scent Glands

Hamsters are hygienic animals that groom their scent glands.

However, if you observe that a hamster is beginning to emit a strong odor, this can indicate that it’s not cleaning its scent glands well and requires assistance.

Cleaning a hamster’s scent glands is easy, especially if it’s tamed and not prone to aggression.

To begin, ensure the hamster is relaxed and well-fed. If the Syrian hamster is stressed or restless, calm it down by providing its favorite treats and toys.

You’ll need cotton swabs and a bowl of lukewarm water. Dip a cotton swab in water and gently wipe the hamster’s scent glands until they’re free of dirt or grime.

If the hamster hasn’t cleaned its scent glands in a long time, it’ll have a thick crust layer. As a result, you’ll need to use a vinegar solution to clean them.

Syrians use their scent glands to mark territory by rubbing them against objects in their environment. Consequently, the hamster’s risk of infection increases if its cage is dirty.

Set aside time to clean and disinfect the hamster’s cage and toys to avoid that eventuality.