Hamsters are a great animal for anyone to have, but sometimes things go wrong with them. You might notice issues with your hamster’s fur, such as it sticking up. So, why is your hamster’s fur sticking up?
Your hamster’s fur sticking up can be a sign of respiratory issues such as a cold, allergies from its cage, or mites, which is a common problem with hamsters. For serious respiratory or mite issues, you should take your hamster to a vet; otherwise, you just need to keep its fur clean.
This article explains the two main reasons why your hamster’s fur might be sticking up. Additionally, I’ll explain how to take care of your hamster’s fur (to prevent issues like its fur sticking up), and how to keep your hamster healthy.
Hamsters may face fur issues throughout their lives, like their fur sticking up. The reason for their fur sticking up can vary depending on the causes and whether or not you notice the issue right away, as some fur issues are more obvious than others.
The following section will explain a few common reasons your hamster’s fur sticks up, such as respiratory issues and fur mites:
When you notice your hamster has fur sticking up, it could signify a respiratory problem. If it is a respiratory problem, there are other symptoms you should look for. Some of these symptoms include:
- Coughing. Your hamster’s coughing might sound more like wheezing since hamsters are so small.
- Loss of appetite. You should always monitor your hamster’s eating habits. But, if it’s not eating normally, you notice its fur sticking up, and it’s coughing, a respiratory problem is likely.
Some respiratory issues that a hamster can have are similar to the ones that humans have. For example, hamsters can catch a cold just like humans. Usually, if a hamster has a cold, they catch it from a human.
Therefore, if you or anyone in your household has a cold, keep them away from the hamster until their cold goes away.
Your hamster might also have allergies. If you suspect this, clean its cage. You should also make sure you put nothing new in the cage or in the room around them, as this could cause allergies.
While allergies are a common issue with hamsters, it could still be a more serious problem. You should take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect it has any serious respiratory issues.
Fortunately, there are plenty of veterinarians in the United States, and I’ll discuss this more later in the article.
The best way to prevent respiratory issues in your hamster is to make sure its living environment is clean. If it doesn’t have a clean bed, or there’s a lot of dust in its living space, it won’t have clean air to breathe. Therefore, your hamster will suffer because of it.
Additionally, you want to make sure your hamster has a nutritious diet and gets enough exercise to keep its heart and lungs healthy.
Another reason that you might see your hamster’s fur looking abnormal is that it has mites in its fur. Unfortunately, mites are common in hamsters. However, there are several signs you can look for:
- Fur sticking up. A disheveled appearance is common with fur mites.
- Fur loss. It’s common to see fur loss on a hamster with fur mites, as the hamster will constantly be picking at its fur.
- Itchiness. Fur mites can cause excessive itchiness for hamsters. Therefore, your hamster might be scratching itself a lot in addition to its fur sticking up. It could also be rubbing up against the cage or objects in their cage to help ease the itchiness.
- Bloody fur. If you have a short haired hamster, you may also be able to see their skin and notice that it’s getting scratched up or even bleeding from the constant scratching. You do not want to let the mites get bad enough to make themselves bleed since cuts can get infected, and blood makes their living space dirty.
Your hamster might only be scratching itself in one place at first, but if you do not act, the mites will spread, and your hamster will be scratching all over.
You cannot see mites in your hamster’s fur, so be sure to look out for these symptoms and contact a vet if you notice them. The vet will help prescribe something to make the mites go away, and you’ll have to clean the cage regularly to prevent fur mites in the future.
There’s also a way to cure mites at home, which you will find in this Youtube video by Madelene Kleinhans:
Also, read Why Is My Hamster Limping?
Hamsters are good at grooming themselves, and they clean their fur every day. But, sometimes, when there are bigger issues with your hamster’s fur, you might need to help them. This is especially important if their fur is sticking up and they have a respiratory problem or mites.
There are multiple ways to help your hamster take care of their fur, including:
- Washing the hamster’s fur.
- Brushing the hamster’s fur.
- Giving your hamster a sand bath.
- Keeping your hamster’s cage clean.
- Taking your hamster to the vet.
Additionally, you should be diligent in taking care of their skin and see a vet if you are unable to care for it on your own.
Hamsters clean themselves every day, but sometimes a bath helps if they have smelly or dirty fur. Baths also help if they don’t seem to be cleaning themselves as much as a hamster should, which is common if they’re getting old or have health issues.
You need to be careful when you bathe a hamster, as they don’t handle water well. Make sure you use a small container and only fill it enough to cover the hamster’s body and not it’s head. The water should be lukewarm so the hamster doesn’t freeze or overheat. After the bath, use a towel or a cool hair dryer setting to dry it off.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to use shampoo for bathing your hamster, but if you do, make sure the shampoo is made specifically for hamsters.
You can find hamster shampoo at your local pet store or order some online. For hamsters, a great shampoo is the Kaytee Squeaky Clean Critter Shampoo from Amazon.com.
The bottle has eight ounces of shampoo, which will last a while with a small hamster. It removes smells from your hamster’s fur and will leave it soft and fresh. If any dirt is in their fur (that could be making it stick up), this shampoo will remove it.
Washing a hamster can be challenging. But, if you know what you’re doing, it will be easy, and your hamster will appreciate it.
This Youtube video from Hamster Fun walks you through all the steps and materials you need to bathe your hamster:
Brushing your hamster’s fur is a great thing to do if it has long fur. You should brush it regularly if it gets tangled easily or if you notice it often sticks up.
If you struggle to keep up with brushing your hamster’s fur and it continues to get tangled and will not stay down, you can try cutting it. The shorter the hair, the easier it is to manage and keep clean.
Short-haired hamsters don’t need to be brushed, as there isn’t anything to brush. For short-haired hamsters, focus more on the other care methods in this section.
There is another way that you can clean your hamster other than giving it a regular bath. You can give them a bath in the sand, which they really enjoy. The sand that you use needs to be specifically made for hamsters. If you cannot find hamster sand, look for sand made for small animals, like chinchilla sand.
To give your hamster a sand bath, you need to fill a small container with the sand so your hamster can roll around in it. Place it in their cage and give them time to clean themselves. Once they do roll around in it, make sure you remove it from their cage, so they don’t end up rolling in the dirty sand.
Sand baths get the dirt out of the hamster’s fur, which could prevent it from sticking up. It will also help them keep clean in general, therefore preventing many health issues that hamsters may face.
If you’re thinking about giving your hamster a sand bath, but you want to learn more before you do, you should watch this Youtube video from Victoria Raechel. She explains what sand you should use and how to prepare a sand bath for your hamster:
Another way you can take care of your hamster and prevent its fur from sticking up is to make sure its cage and living space are clean. You should keep the cage clean no matter what, but it is important if you want to prevent respiratory issues and mites, both of which can make its fur stick up.
You should clean out the cage bedding where your hamster pees and poops every day. Not only will this start to smell, but it will make your hamster dirty every time they go into their bathroom area. Additionally, without regular cleaning, bacteria will start to grow there.
Every week, you should change all of the bedding in the cage, not just the bathroom corner. If your hamster has been having fur or health issues, you can do this even more often to help it get and stay healthy.
You should also give your hamster fresh water and food every day. Fresh food encourages them to eat regularly and drink enough water, which is crucial for its health.
Finally, you should clean all of your hamster’s toys once a month. You should place them in a separate area while doing this and make sure you do not use any harmful cleaners.
If your hamster has mites, you need to ensure everything is cleaned before putting your mite-free hamster back in its cage. Wash your hamster’s wheel, cage, and any toys in hot water in case there are any mites on them.
You can also freeze your hamster’s bedding to kill any mites on it. To do this, place the bedding in a freezer bag and leave it in the freezer for two days. After a couple of days, thaw the bedding completely before putting it back in your hamster’s cage.
Finally, you should see a vet if you’re having trouble solving your hamster’s fur issue or you suspect that something more serious is going on. You want to find an exotic vet since they work with animals other than cats and dogs, like hamsters!
If you’re in a big city, like New York or Los Angeles, you will have no problem finding an exotic vet near you. There are also vets in other US states and cities specializing in exotic pets like hamsters, such as the Texas Avian & Exotic Hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, or Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services in Virginia near the DC metro area.
You may like the following Hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Cold?
- How To Calm a Hamster Down
- What Is the Difference Between a Mouse and a Hamster?
- How Long Can a Lost Hamster Survive?
- Is Silica Sand Safe for Hamsters?
- How Fast Does a Hamster Run?
Your hamster’s fur could be sticking up for many reasons, including respiratory problems like a cold, allergies, or something more serious, such as mites. To prevent these issues, you need to take care of your hamster’s skin by giving it baths, keeping its cage clean, and brushing its fur regularly.
However, if you struggle to keep your hamster clean or you suspect something more serious is going on, it’s best to visit the vet.
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