Can Hamsters Get Fleas? Vet-Reviewed Signs, Causes & Prevention Tips

25 views 12:51 pm 0 Comments February 21, 2024

Most people know that animals like dogs and cats can get fleas. Fleas are a terrible thing that scourge animals and can infest homes. There are numerous ways to prevent and treat fleas in cats and dogs, but what about other animals? Can small mammals like hamsters get fleas?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes. Hamsters can get fleas, although this is not very common. Hamsters usually pick up fleas from other pets in the household. Don’t be alarmed, as fleas can be treated and prevented in hamsters just like they are in other animals. Here is everything you need to know about hamsters and fleas, including signs, treatment advice, and the ways hamsters catch fleas.

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Hamsters Can Get Fleas

Yes, hamsters can get fleas. Fleas will find the blood of your hamster friend delicious, just as they would a dog, cat, or even a person. Hamsters are not immune to fleas. No mammal truly is. That means that even other small animals like mice, rats, and guinea pigs can also get fleas. Thankfully, fleas are not super common in pet hamsters.

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Image Credit: Vera Larina, Shutterstock

How Do Hamsters Get Fleas?

Hamsters primarily get fleas from other animals that live in the same house. Hamsters cannot get fleas on their own unless they spend time both outside and inside, which is highly unusual. If your hamster gets fleas, you have to check all of the other animals in your house since the hamster likely got the fleas from a cat or dog.

Hamsters most commonly catch fleas from nearby cats and dogs that spend time inside and outside. They can also catch fleas from a nearby rabbit that spends time inside and outside. Hamsters can especially catch fleas from other animals that are not on flea prevention medication.

Signs Your Hamster Might Have Fleas

Like all animals, the first sign of fleas is a growing and persistent itching and scratching. All hamsters scratch themselves from time to time. But if your hamster is scratching constantly or scratching themselves to the point of hair loss and scabbing, then they might have fleas.

One way to check your hamster for fleas is to part the fur and look at the skin or run a fine-toothed comb through their hair. Fleas will appear as tiny black dots. Fleas also leave poop or “flea dirt” on your pet. This looks like black/brown dirt however when it is mixed with water on a paper towel it turns red. This is because flea dirt is digested blood.

hamster in the cage
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Can Fleas Harm My Hamster?

In most cases, fleas are nothing more than an irritating pest. However, there are some important exceptions.

Fleas on your hamster are feeding on their blood. In a tiny animal, such as a Hamster, a large number of fleas can actually drain enough of their blood to make them anemic. Fleas also transmit a tapeworm which can infect hamsters.

Some dogs and cats are highly allergic to fleas and will become very itchy, even more so than usual, with just a few fleas. These allergies have been similarly reported in rodents, including hamsters.

The First Thing to Do If You Suspect Your Hamster Has Fleas

The first thing you need to do if you suspect that your hamster has fleas is to change out the bedding in your hamster’s cage. You need to completely change your hamster’s bedding and scrub out their cage or tank. Fleas can leave tiny eggs all around, and removing these eggs can help cut down on any potential infestation.

Then you want to check all of the other animals in the house for fleas. If your hamster has fleas, it is likely that another animal, such as a dog or cat, already has fleas. You need to assess the flea infestation on your other pets and make a game plan for permanent elimination.

Hitting a potential flea infestation as soon as you find it is imperative. You need to act quickly to identify and attack fleas wherever you find them. Dawdling on this can lead to a larger flea infestation which will require a bigger response in the future. The earlier you find and deal with a flea infestation, the easier it is to destroy it before it gets out of hand.

You will need to clean any area that a flea-infested pet has been in. This might include washing human and pet bedding, vacuuming carpets and even hiring pest control experts to remove eggs in the house.

Give your dogs or cats a flea preventative. These are readily available from your veterinary clinic and you need to make sure you are following all the correct instructions for dosing.

Dog fleas up close
Image Credit: photowind, Shutterstock

Take a Trip to the Veterinarian

After you have cleaned your hamster’s cage and checked your other pets, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Unlike larger animals like cats and dogs, hamsters cannot eat flea medication. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe you special medications for your hamster. They will make sure your hamster is healthy and doesn’t need any further treatment. Usually fleas are treated with topical medications only.

Once the flea problem is under control, make sure you keep a close eye on your hamster for any signs the fleas might be back. If any eggs remain in the environment they can hatch and jump right on your pet!

Do Hamsters Get Fleas Often?

No. Thankfully, hamsters rarely ever get fleas. This is not a common condition. There has to be a series of steps that take place in order for a hamster to catch fleas. They must come in contact with another animal with fleas or somehow catch them while outside in the grass. Neither situation is very likely.

Most people have their large pets on anti-flea medications that prevent them from catching fleas in the first place. However, despite the low chance, you still need to be aware of the possibility that your hamster can catch fleas. That way, you don’t rule fleas out completely if your hamster has an issue. Ignoring a potential flea issue can lead to a large infestation growing rapidly out of control.

Hamster in the bath tub
Image Credit: Vladfotograf, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Your Hamster from Getting Fleas

The best way to prevent your hamster from getting fleas is to ensure that all of your animals are on flea prevention. Hamsters usually only get fleas from other animals in close proximity that already have fleas. Keeping your other animals healthy and free of fleas will prevent your little hamsters from catching the infestation. Keeping your hamster inside at all times will also prevent them from catching fleas. Preventing fleas from getting into the house is the best way to prevent your hamster from ever catching fleas in the first place.

Other Skin Parasites in Hamsters

Hamsters can also get mites which cause similar signs of itching and hair loss. Most mites are very difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye while fleas can be easily spotted.

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Conclusion

Hamsters can indeed get fleas, but it is not common. If your hamster catches fleas, you need to clean out their enclosure straight away and change all of the bedding. Then you need to take your hamster to the veterinarian for further treatment. If you do these things right away, you should be able to treat your hamster and prevent a larger flea infestation from breaking out. Following this advice and knowing the signs can help you keep your hamster safe and healthy from the threat of fleas.


Featured Image Credit: stock_shot, Shutterstock

The post Can Hamsters Get Fleas? Vet-Reviewed Signs, Causes & Prevention Tips appeared first on Pet Keen.

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