Hamsters are always busy with one thing, whether running on a wheel, digging in the sand, or scratching themselves. Although most daily activities for these night creatures are part of their fun routine or to utilize the energy they have, some activities can be considered the daily grooming regime for hamsters.
Most animals like cats or lions and any animals with fur clean themselves, licking and scratching themselves. Similarly, so does the hamsters. The answer to the question about why my hamster keep scratching itself is to make sure they are always squeaky clean.
The licking or the scratching makes it easier for hamsters to settle in the new bedding or even the cage to clean their living area.
However, constant scratching can be a bit alarming for many pet owners, and this behavior pattern must be examined. A solution for scratching must be utilized to make hamsters’ lives easier.
The scratching can be due to many reasons, and in this post, we will discuss those and solutions to avoid these underlying problems.
Why Does My Hamster Keep Scratching?
There could be many reasons for scratching that might be harmless or not to the hamsters. Here are some common causes for why hamsters keep scratching themselves.
To Keep Themselves Clean
As a part of a regular hygiene routine, hamsters always keep themselves clean. You might find them scratching or licking themselves if they are not eating, playing, or taking a nap. Hamsters use weird tactics to cover all the body and take any dust or contaminants off their body. When they are done with it, the next step is licking the fur to make it plain because the scratching also sheds off the hair, and the fur coat becomes unruly.
This activity can take several hours as hamsters enjoy repeating it, whether on a wheel or doing their daily cleaning routine. This is the harmless reason, as cleaning themselves up is like second nature for hamsters.
Infestation of Mites
Scratching is so often that it is hard to recognize if this behavior is normal or abnormal. However, if you have a hunch that says your hamster has been scratching their bodies consistently, which might not be a regular thing, then there are chances that something is off.
Mange is a disease that is quite popular among aminals that have fur on their bodies, like red foxes, dogs, and coyotes. Similarly, hamsters can also be affected by this disease. The skin condition in which mites make the fur their permanent residence is Mange. When mites burrow into the hamsters’ skin, it causes an awful itch that is so intense to control that hamsters find themselves scratching all the time.
Mites are parasites and are more likely to attack hamsters if there is another pet like a dog at home from where they can travel into hamsters’ skin and even humans. The Mange is a highly contagious disease that does not leave without a fight. When it makes your home, it’s the permanent area of operation; the intense itch transmits from pets to their owners and spreads everywhere in the bedding and mattresses.
As a result of pathogenic infestation, many hamsters lose their appetites and mildly go insane when they are not provided with a quick solution.
Read: Can Hamsters Eat Hard Boiled Eggs? [14 Reasons]
Another reason for continuous scratching can be dandruff in the fur. Just like humans with excessive dandruff are always scratching their heads, and it is falling on their shoulders or showing up as flakes on the head, hamsters also are at risk of getting dandruff in their fur.
Dandruff doesn’t stop at itching only; the next step is hair fall. With constant dandruff comes the hair fall. If you see little white flakes on the hamster’s skin or in their beddings, then it is understood that the hamster may be scratching itself because of dandruff. If it is not cured at an early stage, the hamsters can lose a lot of furs, and there will be many hairless patches on the body due to excessive scratching.
In some parts of the US, the climate is arid, which also makes the skin of inhabitants dry. In the same way, hamsters can also get dry skin in this weather. The arid climate makes skin dry and scaly. In response to this dryness, the hamsters start scratching themselves just like any other person or animal would do.
A simple reason for a lot of scratching can be boredom. Sometimes, hamsters start to get bored of the same toys and live their lives in small cages. Out of boredom, they begin to scratch themselves. This is a type of exercise for them to pass the time and waste excessive energy.
Low-quality bedding can also result in constant scratching; there might be some bacteria or mites in the bedding, or the material used is not soft in it, which causes rashes on the skin, and hamsters, in response, use scratching to cater to the itch.
One of the most overlooked reasons is stress; just as we get stressed in our lives or face anxiety, it is quite possible for hamsters to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Cats have their kitty scares, and hamsters have to scratch as a coping method for anxiety.
Hamsters can feel anxious for many reasons, including the new environment, the lack of space to move in, or constantly living in a cage. A hamster owner needs to understand the root cause behind this anxiety and stress to eliminate it and give the hamster a fulfilling easy-going life.
Although scratching may sound normal for hamsters, if your hamster consistently scratches itself, it may be due to the causes mentioned above. It is necessary to take action for each of the mentioned issues because too much scratching can lead to bleeding, rashes, tender skin, inflammation, hair loss, and general uneasiness and pain.
Solutions To Reduce Itching
Luckily there are easy solutions to the problems related to scratching. Here are some of the solutions we find work best in case of excessive scratching issues in hamsters.
If your hamster has Mange, do not waste time ordering anti-mite shampoos online or using home remedies to cure it. The best way to do this is by getting an appointment with a vet clinic and going there to get a complete wash for the hamster. The proper procedure will not only deep clean the hamster, but doctors prescribe medicines or solutions to ensure there is no hair loss after using the chemicals that would eliminate the mites.
The same thing should be done if your hamster has excessive dandruff. Most people use human anti-dandruff shampoos and try to decrease the number of flakes from the hamsters; however, they are ineffective. To properly eliminate dandruff from its root, always use anti-dandruff shampoo for animals and the ones the doctors prescribe. There are usually two to three different shampoos that work together to break down the thick mounts of dandruff in a hamster’s body.
The dry skin issue is prevalent in arid climate areas of the US, and to bring back the moisture of the skin in hamsters, there are many oils and body lotions that do not only work to lock in the moisture and retain water in the skin but also provide protection against the bacteria. So, people who use these products give double protection to their hamsters.
The golden rule to find the perfect bedding that makes your hamster comfortable can only be found through the hit-or-miss rule. It isn’t easy to find bedding perfect for your hamster, so change the types and brands of the beddings frequently and observe the reaction of the hamster. If the hamster is comfortable, then congratulations on finding the perfect bed for your hamster to sleep in.
Boredom and stress always go hand in hand, and so does their cure. When your hamster is bored or anxious, it may be due to the lack of bonding between the owner and the pet. You can reduce boredom and stress by giving your hamster time and bonding with it.
Once the hamster is familiarized with you, start bringing it out of the cage under observation so it can play in a bigger area and not feel suffocated. To satiate that thirst of curiosity, a bit of change in the environment is a must; this doesn’t only help the hamster feel at home but also develops its cognitive ability.
Concluding It All
As you have read the reasons for excessive scratching and the solutions to these issues, we hope your hamster doesn’t face adverse effects after scratching. Although hamsters are relatively low-maintenance pets, some people take this for granted and do not provide the emotional support a pet needs. A pet owner must always take some time to spend with the pet and address the issues that may get overlooked just because they resemble the personality traits of an animal.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more