don't worry, my dwarf hamster does not bite,"
said Mr Anderson. "He has this loss of hair
for the past two months over both sides of his
back. I applied the pet shop's flea spray. No
was only 12 months old but he looked like an old haggard
creature with numerous reddish skin folds corrugating the right
and left flank of his back half of the body.
He would be considered middle aged in human equivalent years as
hamsters live for around 24 months but his protracted itchiness
crumbled his coat and his dehydrated skin made him looked aged
Veterinarians are supposed to have magic powers and can handle
all animals. But this little one squealed in pain probably when
I touched him. He sprinted as fast as his legs could carry him
to another area.
Several circumscribed and elevated tumours had grown above the
skin in the meantime and the hamster had lost more weight.
Was it a papilloma virus causing skin warts, a condition seen in
some older Scottish beef cattle, older dogs and people?
In affected people, there are 4 common types of skin warts -
venereal, genital, plantar and seborrheic warts. In dogs, there
are 3 types of warts. They are viral warts (papilloma viral
warts), sebaceous adenomas and meibomium gland adenomas (eyelid
This hamster had warts outside the left ear and the body. It had
swollen leg joints and pimples on the skin too.
Could the ear wart be the initial cause of the stress? It was
around 0.8 cm in diameter and would be considered large if you
compared it to the size of a hamster.
The hamster must have been irritated by it as he could it get
rid of it. It kept trying to scratch it off and probably
triggered an itchiness all over the body leading to bacterial
infections and pustules formation. More skin lumps formed
as the hamster lost his natural immunity.
Would it be kinder to put it to sleep? Was there a possibility
of success if the hamster was given an antibiotic and anti-itch
injection and observed for the next 7 days? The anti-itch
injection would stop the continuous scratching and give some
relief. Antibiotics could be given by mouth. Would the
skin warts and the abscesses increase in numbers?
hamster should be given a chance to live rather than
recommending euthanasia as many vets would do.
I anaesthesized by giving him anaesthetic gas to breathe.
He slept and I gave him an injection.
The redness of the skin subsided the next day. The
wood shavings were not used as they might have caused the
intense irritation on the lower body and back. The
continual scratching was not seen for the time being. It
was not easy to give antibiotic medicine to this hamster.
He still had the warts on the inflamed skin and on the
"knee" joint. Should these warts be surgically removed
later? Water melon was his favourite. He had his hamster
pellets and seeds. It would take a month to know whether his
natural immunity would be strong enough so that there would be
no more warts forming.
Presently, tissue paper was used as its
bedding. We would need at least 30 days to
know whether the itch would return.
The itch did not recur at the 42nd day
(pictures). The backside hairs grew back fast.
The hamster was not given wood shavings or dry
The cause of the itch could be either the wood
shavings, mites or the dry feed or both?
Nobody knows unless the hamster was exposed to
one or the other to see whether it develops
the allergy after he has recovered.
The skin warts continued to grow again. They
did not bother him. He did not appear as
energetic as before but no more anaesthetic
risks would be taken. Let him enjoy his
remaining months of life as dwarf hamsters
don't live more than 2.5 years generally.
What was the cause of his intense body itch?
Most likely, it could be the chemicals in the
wood shavings which are commonly used as
hamster bedding as removal of the allergens
stopped his itchiness and permit his hair to
Surgery to remove the wart. Hamster was given gas
anaesthesia. A large wart on the lower part of the
An anti-inflammatory and antibiotic injection was given by
injection. It was difficult for the owner to medicate the
The left ear 0.8 cm wart was removed. Another wart was
seen on the left hind leg and elsewhere.
7 days after injection
The inflamed redness of the furrowed backside skin has
days after injection
The bald flanks have new hair growth. There is no more
redness at 42nd day after injection. The warts appear to
grow bigger. Warts do recur in most cases.
Warts in left ear lobe and in right hind leg and
UPDATE IN 2011
is best to get pet warts removed and skin diseases treated
early. It is also much cheaper to do it. Big warts may be
irritating to the hamster and they do get infected. Skin
diseases (like ringworm in the hamster on the left) spread
with time and cause pain to the hamster.