Hamsters are cute and fluffy with super soft fur. Therefore, when they start to lose their hair or develop bald patches all over their bodies, it is often a warning sign that something is wrong.
You may be wondering why hamsters lose their hair? There are a number of factors that affect the amount of fur your hamster has such as molting, allergies, friction, dietary deficiencies, exposure to excessive moisture, stress and health conditions.
In order to fully understand why your hamster may have gone from hairy to scary, read our informative guide below.
8 reasons why your hamster may lose its hair
Nearly all animals molt, so it is not unusual for your hamster to shed some fur every now and again or for its hair to feel thinner when you stroke them. However, there may be other factors causing your hamster to lose their hair. These include:
- Molting. In-line with the seasons, you may notice that your hamster tends to lose a little bit of hair in the spring so that they are cooler for the warm summer months only to regain it again in autumn, as they layer up for the winter. This is a perfectly common occurrence especially amongst Syrian and Russian hamsters who tend to shed their hair more than Chinese or Roborovki hamsters do.
- Reactions and Allergies. Some hamsters may scratch more than normal, leading to bald patches appearing. This often happens if they have a skin irritation or are allergic to something such as their bedding. You should investigate further, by checking their fur for fleas, ticks and mites.
- Friction. If your hamster spends a lot of time rubbing against the bars of their cage, toys or other abrasive items or is obsessed with burrowing, then there is a chance that their fur could be falling out due to friction.
- Dietary deficiencies. Too many whole grains or a lack of protein or essential vitamins can also lead to hair loss amongst hamsters. This is why it is so important to make sure that your hamster has a balanced diet of pre-packaged muesli and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Excessive moisture. If you have a water bottle that leaks, this could also be the cause of your hamster’s baldness. Moisture affects a hamster fur in the same way in would us, and the extra water is detrimental to preventing healthy hair from growing.
- Age. A nursing female hamster may experience the loss of a little hair whilst feeding her babies, but this is nothing to be alarmed about because as soon as weaning is over, her hair will grow back glossier than ever. Age-related hair loss also affects older hamsters, as just like humans it is not uncommon for a hamster’s hair to start to change color and even fall out. This generally happens to hamsters who are over the age of 2 and tends to start in the tummy area before spreading to the legs, hips, neck and chest.
- Stress. Yes, hamsters can get stressed too, despite having human servants to wait on them. Changes to their living conditions, lack of human contact or toys and stimulation can lead to your hamster becoming bored or anxious, causing their fur to fall out.
- Health conditions. You should never completely dismiss hair loss however, as severe hair loss can be the symptom of some serious medical problems such as a kidney infection, renal failure or mange.
What to do if your hamster starts to lose its fur?
It can often be difficult to know if your hamster’s hair loss is normal or not, but as molting generally happens in autumn and spring and is minimal, if the corresponding periods of time correlate then chances are molting is the primary cause.
If, however, you notice major changes with your hamster’s behavior or appearance, then it is always best to seek veterinary advice. It might be a simple case of changing their diet by including vegetables and fruits, whole-wheat pasta, cooked eggs and even cheese. Alternatively, your vet may recommend a supplement to add to their food or water bottle.
And remember, too much of a good thing can be harmful too. Hamsters love seeds and nuts but when consumed in large quantities, they can actually contribute to their balding.
If you suspect your little pet has parasites, then there could be other symptoms to spot too. This includes swelling around the bottom and belly as well as constipation and weight loss. Your vet should be able to treat these with antibiotics and shampoos so that your furball is back to full fur capacity in no time at all.
Finally, examine their cage. Do they have enough entertainment to keep them amused at night? Are their toys too sharp or do they need something smoother? And, as for the substrate and bedding, make sure you use smaller shavings or aspen, especially if they are into burrowing, and softer bedding for a more restful sleep.
Will my hamster’s fur grow back?
If your hamster’s hair loss is perfectly normal and caused through shedding, then it will grow back as and when your hamster requires more warmth.
Most other causes of fur loss are curable and providing the underlying condition has been correctly diagnosed and treated, over time, your hamster’s hair will start to grow back and replenish.
No one wants to see their hamster suffer from alopecia, but providing you supply them with the best bedding and a good diet then it’s unlikely that they will shed more than required for their optimal body temperature.
If, however, your hamster is becoming less hairy and more scary by the day, then you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.