The thought of fleas will make most peoples skin crawl. And for a very good reason- as these little brown parasites can live on the skin of mammals and suck their blood. They are fast moving and can jump from one area to another, or even from one animal to another. Fleas are well known for living on dogs and cats, but can hamsters become infected with fleas too?
Unfortunately, hamsters are no exception, and they can indeed become infected with fleas! Even though they are quite small insects, you can see fleas on an infected animal’s skin if you look closely.
In this article we will discuss all about fleas in hamsters including how to treat them and how to prevent them. Let’s get started and find out more information about the common signs of fleas in hamsters.
Hamster Flea Symptoms
Flea bites can be itchy for your hamster and sometimes painful too. Fleas live on the skin and bite when they want to drink some blood. A flea bite appears as a little red spot on the skin, which can then become swollen or irritated.
Common symptoms of fleas in hamsters include:
- Patches of hair loss
- Little red spots on the skin
- Patches of red or irritated skin
- Your hamster may scratch or groom himself more than usual
- Your hamster may seem quiet or depressed
However, these symptoms may also occur if your hamster has other skin issues, such as mites, ticks, or a skin infection. Therefore, it is really useful to know how to check if your hamster has fleas yourself at home. There are two easy ways to confirm if your hamster has fleas, which we will discuss later in this article.
Now that we have looked at the common symptoms of fleas in hamsters, let’s move on and find out what to do if you think your hamster has fleas.
What to Do if You Think Your Hamster Has Fleas
If you think your hamster has fleas, you might have already noticed some hair loss or that he is scratching more than usual. Now what do you do?
First, you need to fully check your hamster’s skin. You can do this by gently parting the hair and looking at the skin all over its body. You might need someone to help you, if your hamster likes to wriggle. You are looking for live fleas or flea dirt. Let’s take a look at both of these in more detail:
These small, brown insects measure about 1/16 to 1/8-inch in length. They have quite a flat body, and long back legs which help them jump. They are quite fast moving and can be difficult to find in among the hair.
Flea dirt is the waste products from the flea- yes, it is flea poop! It looks like dark little specks, similar to black pepper. Flea dirt can be seen on the skin or on the hair.
How to Check for Fleas on Your Hamster
Now, that you know what to look for, there are two easy ways to check for fleas:
Using a flea comb
Use a fine toothed flea comb to carefully comb through all of your hamster’s hair. Part the hair and look at the skin too. You are searching for live fleas or flea dirt.
Wet paper test
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you have found dust, dirt or flea dirt! This test helps to make it obvious. Lightly moisten a sheet of white paper or kitchen roll. Use your flea comb to brush out hair and dirt from your hamster onto the paper. Flea dirt will cause a little red smudge on the wet paper, as it contains blood.
If you have searched for fleas and flea dirt and are still unsure, or if your hamster is showing signs of being unwell, then it is best to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will fully check your hamster, and let you know what is causing the skin problems.
If you have found fleas on your hamster, what do you do next? You need to use a safe and suitable product to kill the fleas on your pet. Read on to find out more about the products available to treat your hamster.
Products Available to Treat Fleas
There are a number of products available to treat fleas on hamsters, including spot-ons and sprays. These often contain the ingredient ivermectin. You can buy them from your local pet store or veterinary clinic. It is important to use a product that is safe and specifically for hamsters, and always follow the package instructions.
Never use a dog or cat product on your hamster, as the ingredients could be lethal for them or easily cause an overdose.
As well as treating the fleas living on your hamster, it is important to clean and disinfect your hamster’s cage. You will also need to treat other pets in the house at the same time, as they are likely to be infected too.
Fleas lay a lot of eggs, which can hatch around your home. The last thing you want is your whole house to be infested. Therefore, it is vital that you hoover and clean the house and use a flea spray if necessary. Always follow the instructions on the spray.
How to Prevent Your Hamster Getting Fleas
Preventing fleas is always better and easier then trying to treat a flea problem. There are a few simple things that you can do to help prevent your hamster getting fleas:
- A new hamster could bring fleas into your home. Always check a new hamster’s skin and hair with a flea comb, when it first arrives into your home.
- Hamsters commonly get fleas from other pets such as dogs and cats, that are more likely to bring fleas into the home. If you have dogs and cats, then they should have regular flea treatments.
- Fully clean and disinfect your hamster’s cage once a week. But it is a good idea to clean the food bowl and water bottle more regularly, and remove any obvious wet bedding and droppings daily.
Can Your Hamster Die from Fleas?
We already know that fleas live on the skin and feed off the hamster’s blood every time they bite. If there are a lot of fleas present, this could lead to anemia. Anemia is when the red blood cell level in the body is lower than normal. Red blood cells are a really important part of the blood, and help to transport oxygen around the body. Anemia causes the hamster to feel weak and depressed, and can be a very serious and life threatening condition if left untreated.
Thankfully, your hamster won’t usually die from having a few fleas. They will just make him feel uncomfortable and itchy. However, if there are a lot of fleas present- they can cause serious problems!
Fleas are not a common problem in hamsters, but when they do get them they can be a frustrating thing to treat. Flea bites can cause your hamster to feel itchy and uncomfortable, with hair loss and red spots on the skin being the most common signs. Severe flea infestations can cause more serious issues, such as anemia. Thankfully, now you know how to check your hamster’s skin and hair for fleas and flea dirt. If you have any doubts if fleas are causing your hamster’s skin problem, it is always best to go see your veterinarian.