Hair loss and bald spot in hamster fur: causes and treatment
Falling fur is unfortunately not uncommon in hamsters. This is mainly a problem for the reason that many different triggers can be the cause.
We have collected the most common problems for you:
What 8 causes lead to hair loss?
Which 8 reasons can trigger bald spots in the hamster fur?
At the end of the article you will also find tips for treatment and prevention.
What causes hair loss in hamsters?
Classic hair loss in hamsters can be traced back to diseases, age, mistakes in care, parasites and change of coat. It can therefore be harmless or a warning sign. A veterinary examination is therefore recommended in any case.
Localized bald patches in your hamster’s coat, on the other hand, almost always indicate problems that you should definitely get to the bottom of!
8 causes for classic hair loss in hamsters
If your hamster is losing hair all over his body and the fur is visibly thinning out, several causes may be responsible.
Some of them are harmless and can usually be easily remedied. Others are serious problems that require urgent and comprehensive veterinary treatment.
Cause 1: Coat change
If your hamster’s coat appears thinner for a few weeks in the spring and fall, it’s nothing to worry about.
This is normal shedding: old hairs fall out more while new ones grow back.
It takes some time for the coat to return to normal. Nevertheless, a special treatment is not necessary.
Cause 2: Deficiencies
An undersupply of vitamins or protein can cause the coat to become thinner overall. In addition, the immune system suffers, which increases the susceptibility to infections and parasites.
If you suspect that the cause of the hair loss lies in the feeding, a corresponding change and offering a more balanced diet will help.
Cause 3: Hormonal fluctuations
Pregnancy, birth, and nursing demand a lot from your hamster’s body. Numerous nutrients are necessary to form the hamster babies and provide for them after birth. This in itself can lead to deficiencies, causing hair loss.
In addition, there are hormonal fluctuations.
After pregnancy, the female hamster’s coat may therefore appear thinner. Within a few weeks this condition should improve as hormone levels normalize.
If this is not the case, you need to consider other triggers for the hair loss and should consult a veterinarian.
Cause 4: Age
As your hamster gets older, some perfectly normal appearances will show up. One of these is that the fur becomes thinner. Again, this is not a cause for concern.
However, it is recommended that you see a veterinarian!
With increasing age, the risk for diseases also increases. If these are detected and treated early, the resulting limitations and discomfort will be less and the quality of life of your pet can be increased or at least maintained.
Cause 5: Mange
The so-called mange is a disease that is triggered by degree or scabies mites.
The females of these parasites burrow under the hamster’s skin and lay eggs here. This causes considerable itching. The skin can also become inflamed and shed heavily, causing the fur to fall out completely.
Another risk is that mange can spread to other pets and also to humans.
So if you suspect such an infestation, quick action is called for.
Cause 6: Kidney insufficiency
Diseases of the kidneys or a functional restriction due to too much protein affect the entire body.
Degradation and toxins can no longer be removed through the urine. As a result, they accumulate in the body and can also affect other organs. A possible sign of the underlying disease is shaggy or falling out coat.
The following symptoms may also occur:
Loss of appetite
bloated, hard abdomen
blood in the urine
curvature of the back when sitting or walking
Cause 7: Allergies
Allergies can also occur in hamsters and show up in different ways. Watery, red eyes, itching and hair loss are among the potential signs.
Typical triggers are:
Pollen on green food or hay
So, if you have just changed the bedding or taken green fodder from the garden when the pollen count is high, these could be responsible.
Dusty bedding can also cause allergic reactions. However, these are usually limited to the respiratory tract and result in sneezing and reddened eyes.
Cause 8: Fungal infections
Fungal infections of the hamster skin often cause circular hair loss, which can be accompanied by whitish coatings and dandruff.
However, if the fungus has already spread widely or your hamster’s immune system is weakened for other reasons, the entire coat may also thin.
Itching, redness and dandruff are also noticeable.
Risk factors for fungal infections are wet bedding. If this is changed too seldom, the drinking bottle runs out or the water bowl is repeatedly knocked over, it is damp and thus forms an ideal breeding ground for numerous pathogens. Among them are spores and bacteria.
The dampness further restricts the immune system, can affect the respiratory tract and promote a whole range of diseases. Therefore, in addition to treatment, it is necessary to eliminate the dampness.
Bald spot in the hamster fur
If hair loss does not occur all over the body, other causes may be responsible.
Circular bald patches or areas of severely thinned fur, however, also cannot always be attributed to disease. In some cases the trigger is more harmless than expected.
Nevertheless, you should clarify the reason of course and if necessary consult a veterinarian!
- fights with other hamster
If there is a bald spot without visible skin changes, such as redness, dandruff or scratches, the fur may simply have been torn out. If you keep several hamsters together, fights among the animals are a possibility for this.
Usually the fur grows back without problems.
However, you should change the way the hamsters are kept in order to avoid future stress and further fighting.
Fleas, mites and ticks occur rather rarely in hamsters due to housing. However, parasites can still be carried into the hamster home via bedding, other natural materials from the garden, and other pets.
Mites and fleas cause itching, sometimes very severe, which can cause your hamster to scratch and rub itself bald in places. Allergic reactions are also possible, with more severe hair loss to be expected.
Unlike many other animals, hamsters also sense the bite of a tick and try to remove the pest. In doing so, they may pull out their own fur by biting and scratching and a hole will appear.
Even though an infestation of parasites is not pleasant, targeted control can be comparatively simple and quick. The sooner you notice the unwanted co-inhabitants, the easier the countermeasures will be.
- shear mycosis and other fungal infections
Shearworm is known as “ringworm” because the fungal infection creates circular holes in the coat.
This is accompanied by scaly skin and a yellowish coating. Surrounding hairs may stick together.
If you notice these symptoms, extreme caution is advised. Because the lichen is contagious and you can become infected with it. Therefore, be sure to wear gloves when touching your hamster or the bedding.
Other fungal infections can also occur in the hamster.
They manifest similarly as hair loss, itching, scaling, and possibly plaques on the skin. The further such an infection progresses, the more widespread the hair loss.
What starts as a small furless area can lead to a bald belly or back, for example.
Protruding stronger splinters on the sleeping house, toys or other furnishings of the hamster’s home can cause injuries.
It is also possible for your hamster to get his fur caught on a ledge and pull out a strand. This can happen mainly with long-haired animals that have a small knot in their fur and get stuck with it.
The skin may remain intact. However, it is equally possible for cuts or scratches to occur. Therefore, inspect the cage carefully for any risk of injury.
If the hamster’s claws do not wear properly, they will become too long and bend. In extreme cases, they may grow like a corkscrew.
It is also possible for them to break off or split.
If such changes are present, they can get caught in the coat with one or more claws, pulling out the hair strands by strands.
This risk exists primarily with long-haired animals.
If the fur becomes thinner in places or there are inexplicable scratches on the skin, it is therefore worth taking a look at the paws.
- lack of help with grooming
Hamsters are extremely clean animals that spend much of the active phase grooming themselves. In doing so, they remove dirt, foreign objects and loose hairs.
They also “comb” their fur.
During the coat change, however, very large amounts of loose hair can occur. This is a potential problem primarily with long-haired hamsters.
Since they can no longer manage to groom themselves to a sufficient degree, knots or even downright felt plates can form. Heat and possibly moisture accumulate underneath, providing an ideal breeding ground for germs. In addition, hamsters often suffer from itching and start scratching and rubbing rough surfaces.
So while the risk of skin disease increases, the animals also tear out fur.
In both cases, bald spots can develop.
- hot spots
Hot spots are reddened, sore and sometimes scabbed areas caused by bacteria or fungi. They occur primarily when the immune system is weakened and there is too much humidity in the cage.
The fur goes out around the hot spots.
Without help from appropriate medications and possibly the use of ointments, the spots will not heal.
In hamsters, fungi are more often responsible than bacteria, which should be mentioned to the veterinarian to avoid wrong treatment.
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
If your hamster is bored or constantly stressed, this can affect his psyche. Often he becomes more aggressive or jumpy.
Likewise, it is possible for your hamster to develop obsessive-compulsive disorder.
excessive licking and grooming
constant nervous scratching
nibbling and biting itself
excessive rubbing on rough surfaces
All of this can lead to partial hair loss as the coat and skin are constantly mechanically irritated.
Treatment and accompanying help
With the exception of age-related hair loss, hormonal fluctuations, and shedding, bald spots or thin fur always require a visit to the vet.
Even if your hamster is rubbing or scratching at bark more during shedding, it may not be loose fur but an undetected infestation of mites.
Therefore, see a veterinarian early to avoid difficult progressions and worsening.
In addition to medication, there are a number of things you can do yourself to promote healing and regrowth of the coat. These include:
- Balanced feeding: if B vitamins and protein are lacking, hair loss is a possible result. Therefore, provide your hamster with fruits, vegetables and protein sources, such as mealworms or egg, more often.
- Keep warm: If your hamster is missing much of his fur, he will cool down more quickly. Make sure he can keep warm in his nest and that the room temperature is high enough.
- Disinfect the cage: If there is an infestation of parasites, bacteria or fungi, you must remove everything from the cage and also disinfect it yourself. Otherwise, it can always come back to spread again.
Prevention of hair problems
Not all causes of hair loss or bald spots in your hamster can be prevented.
Support coat care
Offer your hamster a sand bath and get him used to regular brushing. This measure will also make any problems noticeable at an early stage.
In addition, loose fur hairs end up in the brush and not in the environment, which makes cleaning the cage easier.
Pay attention to hygiene
Clean and dry bedding is an important basis for health.
Therefore, make sure that neither excessive moisture nor dirt accumulate.
Examine your hamster at least once a week.
This will help to detect skin changes and excessive fur loss as well as other signs of disease.
Avoid boredom and stress
Not only can psyche have a significant impact on quality of life, but it also has a direct effect on health.
After all, hamsters are very intelligent animals that want to be kept busy.
Weight loss, obsessive-compulsive disorders, a weakened immune system and negative effects on the cardiovascular system are the consequences.
Therefore, avoid stress for your animal, but offer it species-appropriate employment and variety. Because boredom can also become a stress factor.
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