Hamsters are hardy animals that can withstand and survive quite a lot, however they’re not invincible. While they generally have terrible eyesight and rely on their other senses, they are susceptible to eye infections.
Eye infections can make a hamster blind, but they generally won’t result in your hamster’s death. However, if the infection spreads to other areas of the body, it can be fatal.
But that’s not all you need to know. It’s important to understand the underlying causes of eye infections, how to spot one immediately, and how to prevent them entirely.
We’re going to cover all of that and more in the following article, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know about eye infections in hamsters to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Here’s a table of contents of what will be covered in the following article. Feel free to click any of the links below to be taken directly to that section.
First, let’s talk about what causes eye infections in hamsters.
What Causes Eye Infections in Hamsters?
Eye infections like most other illnesses can be caused by a variety of different factors. Most of these causes are environmental, which means you can easily and quickly change their surroundings to reduce the risk of eye infection and prevent it from coming back.
We’ll talk about prevention more in one of the later sections, but now let’s cover the main causes in more depth below.
One of the most common causes of eye infections in hamsters is poor hygiene. Just as you might develop an infection from living in a dirty area, hamsters can develop eye infections in a similar way.
However, unlike you and other people, hamsters don’t have much of a choice in where they live. They are confined to their cage for a majority of their day and life. That makes cleaning their cage even more important.
To reduce the risk of infections and other illnesses, you should be cleaning their cage regularly. The best way to clean your hamster’s cage is by removing all the bedding, scrubbing with soap and water, then rinsing thoroughly and adding a layer of new, fresh bedding.
Even if your hamster doesn’t have an eye infection, you should be cleaning their cage regularly to keep them happy and healthy for their full lifespan of 2 -3 years.
The second most common cause for developing an eye infection is a foreign object that gets stuck in your hamster’s eye. These foreign objects often cause physical distress and can lead to infection if not resolved immediately.
The most common foreign objects that can cause an infection are small pieces of bedding, hay or straw if you have that in their cage, and pieces of plastic or fiber that may be chipped or fall of toys or other items in their cage.
Here’s a few common foreign objects that may get stuck in your hamster’s eye:
- Straw or hay
- Chipped plastic
- Hard food, such as seeds
- Fiber from rope toys
If your hamsters gets any small, physical object in their eye, it can lead to infection or even blindness if not resolved quickly. If you notice something stuck in their eye, you should try to gently wipe it away without being too rough.
If it’s proving difficult to remove, you may need to see a veterinarian who can assist in getting the object out of their eye. If it stays stuck in there for an extended period of time, it may result in blindness or the infection spreading to other areas of their body.
Injury or Fighting
Another common cause of eye infections is from a physical injury or fighting with other animals. Any scratching, cutting, or rough contact made with your hamster’s eye can result in an infection.
Physical injuries most often come from falling from somewhere. Hamsters love to climb and most cages are tall instead of long, which means your hamster has a bigger opportunity to fall from a height.
Plenty of bedding, multiple levels, and safe areas are important to keep your hamster from falling and safe if they happen to jump.
On the other hand, fighting will only occur if your hamster lives in the same cage with another animal.
Hamsters are generally solitary animals and prefer to live alone. They can become territorial and aggressive, which can lead to fighting and an eventual eye infection if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
As a result, it’s important to make sure you hamster is safe from physical injuries and fighting, as they can lead to potentially fatal eye infections.
It’s not often thought that hamsters can develop allergies, but just like humans they are susceptible to certain contacts in the air that can provoke a physical response.
While foreign objects and fighting are more physical, allergies provoke an immune response that is harder to avoid. If your hamster is allergic to something in their cage, the best thing you can do is remove that from their immediate physical area to prevent further allergic reactions.
The most common allergens for hamsters are:
- Sunflower seeds
- Certain types of bedding
- Aerosol sprays
- Cigarette smoke
- Essential oils
If you’ve added something new to their surroundings and noticed redness or swelling around their eyes, it’s likely an allergic reaction and you should take the proper steps to avoid any serious health issues.
On the other hand, if nothing new has been added to their environment, it’s likely not an allergic reaction and instead one of the other causes listed above, but you can always consult a veterinarian for professional and personal advice.
Signs of an Eye Infection
Now that you know what can cause an eye infection in hamsters, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs. Some are obvious, but others may be more subtle and because it’s so important to catch an eye infection sooner than later, it’s important to be able to recognize all of the common symptoms.
Here are the most common signs of an eye infection:
|Signs of an Eye Infection in Hamsters|
|Green or yellow pus around the eye|
|Watery or cloudy eyes|
|Eyes are often closed|
If you notice your hamster exhibiting any of the behaviors above, it may be a result of an eye infection that should be treated immediately by a trained veterinarian.
So let’s talk about some of the most common treatments when it comes to keeping your hamster healthy.
Hamster Eye Infection Treatments
Hamster infections are treated very similarly to infections in humans, which generally involves keeping the area clean, dry and antibiotics.
The first thing you should do if you suspect your hamster has an eye infection is to take them to the veterinarian to get a professional diagnosis. Eye infections in hamsters are often conjunctivitis or sticky eye, which are survivable, but if not diagnosed and treated, the infection can spread, ultimately becoming fatal.
Common treatments include:
- Antibiotic eyedrops
- Saline eyewash
- Saline wipes
Your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotic eyedrops that you will give to your hamster once or twice a day for a week or so, although you should follow any instructions they give you.
You should also regularly wipe away the gunk that builds up over the course of the day and wipe their eye clean with saline wipes. This will keep the area clean and free from ongoing infection or other issues.
The most important part is to get a consultation from a trained veterinarian from the start. Trying to diagnose or treat your hamster with anything over the counter without being viewed by a vet first can cause more issues than solutions if not done correctly.
A general vet visit will cost anywhere from $25 to $100 for something like this, but it’s worth it to keep your hamster safe and healthy.
How to Prevent Eye Infections
It’s not only important to take your hamster to the veterinarian and get medication to help them overcome sticky eye, but you should also take proactive measures to prevent them from getting an eye infection in the first place.
Here is the best way to prevent eye infections in hamsters:
- Regularly clean their cage
Keeping a clean, dry environment can help prevent infections and other illnesses. Moist or dirty environments harbor bacteria, which can get into your hamster’s eye and cause an infection.
- Remove toys when they break or chip
Foreign objects can cause infections if they get stuck or hit your hamster’s eye. That’s why you should always remove and replace any broken toys, wheels, igloos or anything else that can break off and hit your hamster in the eye.
- Prevent dust build up
Similar to keeping your hamster’s cage clean, you should always dust in and around their cage to prevent dust from building up in their environment that they breathe in or walk into. Imagine seeing a dust bunny in your home that’s the size of your head.
- Don’t let hamsters live with other animals
Hamsters are solitary and territorial animals and eye infections and other physical injuries can occur when your hamster gets in a fight with another animal. As a result, it’s best to keep your hamster living alone in solitude.
- Regular veterinarian checkups
Taking your hamster to the vet on a regular basis is important to keeping them healthy. Only a trained vet can diagnose and prescribe treatments to keep your hamster from illness and overcome sickness.
If you follow the steps above, you should have no problem preventing eye infections and other illnesses in your little, furry friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to hamster’s and eye infections.
No, you should not attempt to treat a hamster’s eye infection at home. You should get a professional diagnosis from a trained veterinarian on the proper next steps, a prescribed treatment plan, and follow up to ensure your hamster is not seeing any negative, residual effects from the infection.
It often takes about 1 – 2 weeks for a hamster to recover from an eye infection. This can be as short as a few days or take a full 2 weeks depending on your hamster’s overall health, the treatment plan, the time it took to diagnose the infection, and more.
If you find it’s taking longer than 2 weeks to go away, you should consult with your veterinarian for next steps to ensure it is not more serious.
Yes, hamsters can easily survive eye infections with no lasting effects. This is often achieved by an early diagnosis and a prescribed treatment plan from a veterinarian. If the eye infection is not found or treated, the infection can spread and become fatal.
Yes, hamsters can go blind from an eye infection if it is serious and not treated correctly. Physical injuries, such as scratching or fighting can also cause your hamster to go blind.
And there you have it! There’s so much to know about hamsters, eye infections, and their overall health. But we’ve covered a ton of helpful information in this article.
So what did we learn? Well, eye infections can kill hamsters, but it’s rare as long as the eye infection is treated appropriately and quickly by a trained veterinarian. When it comes to your hamster’s health you should always consult a trained professional first and follow their prescribed treatment plan.
You can look for symptoms to identify an eye infection and take proactive steps to prevent the most common causes, which are often poor hygiene, allergens, physical injuries, and more.
Your hamster’s health is vitally important and it’s great that you’re taking the proper steps to keep your hamster happy and healthy.