Hamster Hair Loss – Causes and Solutions
Hamster hair loss can be caused by both disease and non disease reasons. It usually happens to hamsters over 1 year old. They will start loosing hairs in the tummy area and then on to the hind legs and it will move on to the hips, neck and chest during final stages.
Non Diseases Related Hamster Hair Loss
Seasonal Hair Loss
Hamsters molt during the summer and autumn. Their fur may become patchy during that period. Sudden and extreme temperature changes may also result in hamster hair loss. For example if the temperature becomes really hot, hamster may naturally shed fur in order to cool themselves down.
Molting is natural to all furred animals and it should not be a major concern to your hamster’s health. In fact most of the furred animals shed their fur once or twice a year. Among all the hamster types, Chinese and Roborovski hamsters shed lesser fur than Russian and the Syrian hamsters when molting.
Lack of Vitamin B
High diet of sunflower seeds may lead to obesity and malnutrition to your hamsters. Most important factor for healthy fur growth is vitamin B group. If proper vitamin intake is not taken care of, symptoms like skin problems and hair loss may occur. Lab researches have shown that lacking of multivitamins in diet will increase the chances of hamster hair loss.
Feed your hamsters a mixture of oat flakes, brown rice, bananas, wheat germ, vegetables and nuts. These are able to provide your hamsters with enough daily in take of multivitamins.
Lack of Protein
Lacking of protein in diet may also sometimes cause hamster to loose hair. When hamsters suffer from protein malnutrition, their body will automatically conserve the protein and remove it from helping fur growth.
Increase the protein diet intake which include legumes, grains, eggs, nuts and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and sometimes even tofu.
Age Related Hamster Fur Loss
When hamsters age, usually over one year old, the production of a natural moisturizer called sedum is reduced which will cause the top layer of skin to loose its moisture and making it dry and scaly. This symptom is more severe with male hamsters.
There is not much can be done with this as it is a natural aging process for all living things..:)
Diseases Related Hamster Hair Loss
Dermatitis is a type of bacterial skin infection when broken skin are left untreated. It will cause a lot of the hair loss at the infected areas. Allergies and genetic factors may be some of the causes for Dermatitis to arise in all types of hamsters. It will also happen when hamsters are too old to produce enough moisture in their skins and it will become dry and itchy. Constant scratching due to itching will lead to blisters, swelling and scabbing which make the areas more prone to bacterial infections.
Chemicals used in household product and in food contents are commonly known to cause allergy to hamsters. Allergies may cause skin rashes and itching and it will lead to Dermatitis if broken skins are left untreated. Detergent soaps, bleach and mosquito spray are known to disrupt hamsters biological systems and cause allergic reactions as well.
Some widely used food additives like tartrazine and benzoic acid might cause skin allergy to hamsters as well. Tartrazine is used extensively as a food coloring and Benzoic acid is used as human food preservatives. Processed food not only has less nutritional value but also has a lot of unwanted chemical additives that will affect your hamsters’ health.
Always feed your hamsters natural food and do not let them eat food processed for human consumption. Keep them away from the known sources of allergic materials. It is not advisable to apply any medical creams to your pet hamsters infected with Dermatitis, because it can be eaten by the innocent animals and cause even more problems. A vet will be able to help your pet hamster to release its itching for many weeks with a steroid injection and some antibiotics mixed in your hamsters’ water supply.
The medical term for Ring Worm is Dermatophytosis and it is a fungal skin infection. The incubation period for ring worm is 10 to 14 days and it take Keratin, a hard protein found in the surface of the skin, as food. It is very easily spread when hamsters are grooming themselves. The infected areas will become scaly and have red patches which will lead to loss of hair. The infected areas can be from a size of a green pea all the way to the size of a 1 dollar coin. It is known that Ring Worm can be passed to human’s, but it is very rear because human has natural resistant to Ring Worm.
Always wash your hand after handling a suspected infected hamster and avoid putting the infected hamsters together with the healthy ones in one cage. Change hamster bedding regularly and wash cage with clean water every week. Sometimes a shampoo called Virkon is used, it is a safe disinfectant which can be applied directly onto hamsters fur and skin to kill the ring worm fungus.
Mites are small parasites grow on humans and animals. It can also be transmitted by direct contact and will cause skin irritation and inflammation. Some Mites live on the surface of the skin some just under the skin which makes it hard to detect in the beginning. There are a few types of Mites that are commonly seen on pet hamsters;
- Harvest Mites
- Burrowing Mites
- Ear Mites
Sometimes it is quite hard to distinguish which type of Mite your hamster has because the symptoms might appear similar, so it is best to bring it to a vet for better diagnose. A vet will do a skin scrapping for confirmation and then a injection can normally solve the Mites problem easily.
On the other hand, it will help to get rid of them easier if you understand the life cycles of Mites. Even tough Mites can be easily killed by Pyrethrin spray or powder, their eggs will still be alive and continue to hatch under the skin. Thus multiple spray or powder treatments at intervals are needed to completely eradicate Mites on your hamsters. And it is also a very good practice to disinfect the cages and all the accessories every week.