Finding a bump or multiple bumps on your hamster's body is a common occurrence. While some bumps may be cancerous lumps or impacted teeth pouches, most are abscesses, which develop when skin punctures or bites do not properly heal. Contact your veterinarian immediately, but do not worry. In most cases, bumps on hamsters are treatable with antibiotics.
Abscesses are bite or puncture wounds that have not properly closed. If untreated, a wound will develop into a hard bump beneath the surface of the skin. Bite wounds may appear anywhere on a hamster's body, but the belly is a popular target during a fight. Punctures caused by food or bedding usually appear on a hamster's cheek pouch.
Hamsters, just like humans, are prone to both internal and external cancerous tumors. If a bump on your hamster's body grows rapidly and feels like a hard lump, external cancer may be present. With early lump detection, treatment is a possibility for external tumors. Other signs of external cancer are weight loss and general signs of distress and illness.
Impacted Teeth Pouches
A bump on a hamster's cheek may be a sign of an impacted tooth pouch. Similar to an abscess in appearance, an impacted tooth pouch results when a piece of food (or an object) becomes lodged in the hamster's cheek and cannot be removed. Common culprits include sticky foods, fluffy bedding and sharp seeds, which are difficult for the hamster to dislodge on her own. If untreated, the bumps may grow larger until the hamster's eye closes.
If you find a bump on your hamster, contact your veterinarian immediately. If the bump is an abscess, the veterinarian will lance and drain the abscess of fluid, which will reduce the size. A quick course of antibiotics will treat the area and prevent infection. If the bump appears cancerous, your veterinarian will perform a biopsy to rule out benign or malignant cancers. If the cancer has not progressed, the tumor can be removed surgically. If the culprit is an impacted tooth pouch, your veterinarian will empty and rinse out the pouch.
Skin abscesses may be prevented by separating aggressive hamsters and providing softer bedding and food. Check the toys in your hamster's cage and remove anything with sharp edges. To prevent an impacted tooth abscess, avoid feeding your hamster any food that is sharp, pointed or sticky, and use only soft bedding. Cancer is not preventable, but early detection is key to reversal.
- Photo Credit hamster image by cat from Fotolia.com