Hair loss in hamsters can be due to a wide variety of reasons. It can be completely normal, or it can be a sign of a serious medical issue. If you noticed your hamster’s losing and having a bald spot on its body, surely you want to know what’s causing the problems.
Your hamster is losing hair, likely because of nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions, parasites, or fungal infections, hence the bald spot. Hamsters may also lose hair due to aging, illness, rubbing against abrasive objects, or fighting with each other due to crowded enclosures.
In this article, I’ll explain each of these causes of hamster hair loss in-depth and give solutions about what to do for each one. Keep reading.
Several reasons could be contributing to your hamster losing their hair or developing bald spots. The most common reasons a hamster may lose hair are:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Rubbing against abrasive objects
- Allergic reaction
- Parasites or fungal infections
- Shedding due to seasonal changes
- Serious medical conditions
- Stress from living in an overcrowded cage
If you notice that your hamster has developed bald spots, you’ll want to consider these potential reasons to determine the most likely cause.
Once you know what’s causing your hamster’s hair loss, you can take the necessary steps to help it recover.
Check out, Why Is My Hamster Sleeping So Much?
Nutritional deficiencies are a common cause of hair loss in hamsters. The most prominent deficiencies that can cause hair loss is protein and Vitamin B deficiency. However, deficiencies in potassium, calcium, iron, and other vitamins can also cause hair loss.
Hamsters need a rich diet full of vitamins to function at their best, just like humans do. Hair loss can be a sign that they’re not getting the proper nutrition.
A high seed diet, particularly sunflower seeds, can also cause nutritional deficiency. That’s due to sunflower seeds’ high fat and calorie content, which can also lead to obesity in your hamster.
Suppose you add enough protein, iron, and other vitamins into the diet and find your hamster is still losing hair. Then that means a high seed diet could be the cause.
According to Chewy, seed mixes should be considered more of a treat or supplement than the main component of your hamster’s diet.
If improper nutrition is the cause of your hamster’s hair loss, a change in diet can fix the issue and get your hamster back to full health and a warm coat.
Ask your vet for diet recommendations. Your vet can tell you what your hamster’s diet may be lacking and how to fill in any nutritional gaps.
Ensure your hamster gets 16% protein in its diet and a good amount of B vitamins. You can supplement your hamster’s diet with the following foods to get your hamster back to optimum nutrition levels:
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Cooked eggs
- Water-soluble vitamins
You can get nutritious hamster food from the physical pet stores near you or online. Walmart also sells hamster food—this retailer is available around the country, except Hawaii. Alternatively, you can get your supplies from online retailers like Chewy and Amazon.
This Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Gerbil & Hamster Food from Chewy.com is a great option. It doesn’t contain any preservatives or artificial colors and flavors. And it provides your hamster with a healthy diet of dried mixed fruits, seeds, grains, nuts, and pre-cooked legumes.
However, consult with your vet before making any drastic changes.
Repeatedly rubbing on hard or abrasive objects can easily cause hair loss in hamsters due to friction. Excessive burrowing can also cause hair loss for the same reason.
If you notice your hamster rubs its body or head on objects around it and that its bald spots typically appear around those areas, friction may be the culprit.
Getting a bigger cage, removing all abrasive objects, or providing your hamster with items to chew on such as carrots, apples, cardboard, or other chew toys can pre-occupy and help it stop rubbing so much.
A great choice would be Whimzees natural long-lasting treats. Whimzees are amazing for hamsters, they’ll keep them happy and occupied for a long time and promote tooth health.
However, your hamster may also be itchy due to causes such as an allergy, infection, or mites, which can cause it to rub against other objects.
While rubbing is usually natural for your hamster, It may be necessary to bring your hamster in for a clinical examination at the vet to determine the cause of any unnatural or excessive rubbing.
Hamsters can have allergic reactions to things such as food, bedding, and household sprays. Most commonly, allergic reactions are triggered by bedding and household agents.
If something has recently been changed in your hamster’s diet, surrounding environment, or bedding, it may be reacting to the new agent.
Hair loss can be a symptom of an allergic reaction in your hamster.
Other signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Irritated digestion
- Itchy or dry skin
- Runny nose
- Red or swollen feet
- Watery eyes
- White flakes around ears and eyes
An allergy left untreated can lead to complications such as infections and illnesses due to the hamster’s lowered immune system.
However, if caught, removing the item that’s triggering a reaction can soon resolve the issue. Luckily, hamsters can recover from allergies very quickly.
Parasites or fungal infections common in hamsters include fleas, mites, ringworm, and ticks. Any one of these can lead to your hamster hair loss due to the nature of the infection and the excessive scratching they induce. Also, these conditions may lead to damaged skin, lesions, and hair loss.
Mites can cause mange, a severe and contagious skin condition leading to hair loss. Hair loss is usually found around the ears and back of the hamster.
Ringworm is a common fungal infection that can cause bald patches in hamsters. It may also appear as circular patches of scaly skin. The bald patches often begin at the head and appear upon the face before spreading to the back.
Both ringworm and mange are contagious to other animals and humans. Therefore, be careful when treating your hamster for these conditions, and be sure to disinfect everything well.
Furthermore, if you find parasites to be the cause, you’ll need to treat your hamster’s surrounding environment, as parasites will spread into and infest their home as well.
If you suspect a parasitic or fungal infection, bring your hamster to the vet at once to examine it and provide treatment. These infections can be treated and resolved with medication. Once cleared, your hamster will most likely grow back their hair as healthy as before.
Hair loss can be normal for your hamster in small amounts. Hamsters shed during the spring and fall seasons along with temperature changes. They may also lose some hair outside of these seasons if there are other extreme temperature changes, such as a prolonged heatwave.
Hamster’s shed to remove old hair and replace it with new hair. During shedding, your hamster’s fur may become thin, patchy, and even have some bald spots. There will also most likely be loose hairs in and around your hamster’s cage because of it.
Breeds with more fur, such as Syrian or Russian hamsters, will shed more than those with shorter fur. So you’ll probably find more loose hairs around the cage with those breeds, and it’s no cause for concern.
Shedding will last around three weeks, and then your hamster should regrow all their fur as before. If your hamster doesn’t regrow back the hair within a few weeks, there may be a more serious underlying cause that you should check out.
Hair loss caused by aging is more commonly seen in male hamsters older than two years old and will show up first on their backs, hind legs, hip area, and stomach. The fur may become thin or sparse, and bald patches may appear.
The remaining fur will probably not be as soft but become matted and coarse. It may also change colors, such as into silver or grey.
Hamsters live around 2 to 3 years; therefore, if your hamster is on the older side and your vet has found no other cause of the hair loss, aging may be the reason.
If so, it’s perfectly normal and doesn’t have to be stopped or worried about. However, it’s good to look after your hamster a bit more as it ages to keep it healthy and comfortable.
For an in-depth guide on caring for an elderly hamster, check out this article.
Less commonly, a medical condition is the cause of hair loss in hamsters. Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include kidney inflammation, kidney failure, T-Cell lymphoma, thyroid/adrenal tumors, and hormonal imbalance.
If your hamster’s hair loss is accompanied by weight loss, increased urination, and lethargy, it may be a problem with their kidneys.
According to the Merck Manual, kidney inflammation can be brought about by viral infection, high blood pressure in the kidneys, or a disorder of the immune system.
If your hamster is experiencing lethargy, weight loss, skin inflammation, it may be T-cell lymphoma, a kind of cancer that affects the skin. The hair loss will also be in sporadic patches.
Tumors are relatively common among hamsters and may be benign or malignant. Luckily, according to PetMD, only 4% of hamsters experience malignant tumors.
Tumors in the adrenal or thyroid glands are the most common tumors found in hamsters. They can lead to hair loss due to the imbalance they cause in the hamster’s hormones.
If your hamster is exhibiting changes in behavior, loss of appetite, depression, dullness, or other nonspecific symptoms, it may be due to a tumor or hormonal imbalance.
And, if you suspect any of these issues may be the problem, take your hamster to the vet immediately. There are more than 100,000 veterinarians across the United States, with California as the state with the most veterinarians. Any vet will do. Your vet will examine your hamster and tell you what treatment may be necessary.
If your hamster lives with other hamsters, it can easily become antagonistic to the other hamsters or get stressed from overcrowding. Your hamsters may fight with each other or chew on each other’s hair, resulting in hair loss.
Wounds from fighting with other hamsters can easily cause the hair around those areas to come off or stop growing. These wounds will often be around the hindquarters or tail.
Certain breeds, such as Syrian hamsters, should always be kept alone as they’re solitary hamsters and highly prone to fighting with each other. These fights can sometimes even lead to death. The ASPCA advises never putting another hamster with a Syrian hamster in the same living space or letting them loose together at all.
Along with Syrian hamsters, Chinese hamsters and Roborovski hamsters should be kept separate, as they’re very solitary. Dwarf hamsters can live together, as they can be social creatures.
Hamsters of the same gender and littermates are the most likely to live peacefully together. However, most hamsters usually prefer to be alone, and your best bet is to keep your hamsters separate.
If fighting is the cause, you should consider separating your hamsters. Once they’re separated, fighting and wounds will no longer be a problem, and neither will the resulting hair loss.
Sometimes, the size of the cage is the problem, as the hamsters feel that they don’t have enough space or their territory is being encroached upon. In this case, getting them a larger cage may solve the issue.
If you’re keeping two or more dwarf hamsters together, make sure to give them each their own water and food dishes and space for their hideouts. They should also be the same gender, as having opposite genders together can lead to unwanted breeding.
Related Hamster articles:
- How To Make Your Hamster Happy
- What Size Wheel for Syrian Hamster
- How Much Should I Feed My Hamster
- Why Is My Hamster Bleeding From Its Bottom?
- How To Train Your Hamster To Cuddle
It’s hard to figure out why your hamster may be losing their hair, and the cause is often not immediately apparent.
In general, if your hamster is young, kept alone, and is not shedding, the cause may be something more serious and should be checked out by a vet.
If you suspect a serious medical condition, take your hamster to the vet immediately so they can suggest the right treatment for your hamster.
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