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Can Hamsters Get Fleas? Vet-Approved Prevention Tips & Treatment

Visnja Radosavljevic

By Visnja Radosavljevic

Hamster scratching using hind legs

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Hamsters are popular small pets known for their low-maintenance needs and curious, interesting personalities. While caring for these rodents is fairly easy, many unknowns exist about how to keep hamsters in good shape and ensure their well-being. That said, there are many health-related questions that hamster enthusiasts and owners would like answered, such as: Can hamsters get fleas?

Although flea infestations in hamsters are quite rare, it is indeed possible for hamsters to get fleas, as these parasites can feed off of any warm-blooded mammal. Therefore, hamster parents should know how to recognize the signs of flea infestations in hamsters and how to resolve this issue and help their furry companion.


How Can Hamsters Get Fleas?

Hamsters can get fleas, but the chances of your hamster getting infested with fleas are still quite low. Unlike cats and dogs, which are quite susceptible to fleas because they spend more time outside, hamsters are usually kept enclosed and are not in contact with other pets, which is why they have a lower chance of getting fleas.

That said, there are ways that your hamster could become a host for flea breeding. These little rodents can pick up fleas from their bedding, from being in contact with other animals, or from being in a flea-infested area in your home.

These parasites can live on your hamster’s skin and body, causing several health issues. It’s essential to know how to recognize that your hamster has fleas and how to react to prevent health damage.

Dog fleas up close
Photo Credit: photowind, Shutterstock

Signs That Your Hamster Might Have Fleas

Flea infestations in hamsters could lead to serious health complications, so all hamster parents should learn how to recognize the signs that their hamster might have fleas. The faster you notice the signs of a flea infestation in your hamster, the faster you’ll be able to react and get veterinary advice to resolve the problem.

Here’s a list of common signs that your hamster might have fleas:
  • Constant scratching
  • Gnawing or rubbing to alleviate the body’s itching
  • Visible fur patches, skin loss, or small fleas jumping around
  • Aggravated and red skin
  • Small, red skin bumps and swollen parts on your hamster’s body
  • Visible flea dirt on your hamster’s skin

If you notice any of these signs, your pet hamster likely has fleas. However, other parasites, such as mites, may show similar signs. Book an appointment with your vet so they can perform diagnostic tests if needed and prescribe appropriate treatment.


How Can I Check My Hamster for Fleas?

If you’re noticing signs of flea infestation but are unsure whether that’s the problem, it might be a good idea to check your hamster for fleas.

Things that you can do to confirm a flea infestation on your hamster’s body:
  • Gently search through your hamster’s fur. Look for living fleas or flea dirt or other signs of an infestation.
  • Check your hamster’s bedding to see if it’s infested. Adult fleas can be easily visible inside the bedding, although not all stages of the flea life cycle are visible with the naked eye.
  • Flea dirt (flea poop which contains digested blood ) can look like small brown flecks in your pet’s coat or bedding. It can be mistaken for normal dirt, so if you collect some and put on some damp white paper towel or cotton wool and it turns red- this lets you know it is flea dirt.

The Dangers of Flea Infestations for Hamsters

Regardless of their small size, fleas can represent a danger for any animal that they take as their host, including hamsters. For one thing, fleas can carry other diseases that could affect your hamster’s health and put yourself at risk.

Another big danger of flea infestations for hamsters is anemia. Due to their small body size, hamsters can quickly lose too much blood if under a severe infestation. The longer your hamster is infested, the higher the chances of severe anemia and even death.

Syrian hamster scratching in the corner
Photo Credit: Punyaphat Larpsomboon, Shutterstock


What Should I Do If My Hamster Has Fleas?

If you suspect that your hamster has fleas, it’s best to immediately contact your veterinarian, who will be able to confirm the problem and prescribe the needed treatment.

Flea Treatment in Hamsters

To resolve a hamster flea infestation, you’ll need to follow your vet’s advice to kill all adult fleas along with flea eggs to prevent them from spreading.

In most cases, this will involve a treatment that is safe to use on your hamster, appropriate treatment for any other pets in the household, and advice on cleaning and treating the environment.

Flea Prevention in Hamsters

woman cleaning carpet
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

While there’s no way to 100% guarantee that your home will always be flea free, there are several things that you can do to reduce the chance of your hamster getting infested with fleas:

  • Stay on top of your hygiene, especially if you have other pets, and ensure that they’re flea-free.
  • Keep up to date with appropriate, veterinary-prescribed flea-preventative treatments for other pets in your household, especially those that go out and about like dogs and cats. It is very important to make sure that you use the right flea treatment for each pet. For example flea treatments for dogs can contain ingredients that are highly toxic to cats.
  • Avoid letting stray animals or any unwanted guests inside your home, as they could be potential carriers and transfer fleas to your hamster.
  • Regularly clean your hamster’s environment and cage, and change the bedding frequently.
  • Check the bedding for fleas and flea dirt every time before you let your hamster back inside the cage.
  • Check your hamster regularly for any visible signs of fleas or other health concerns, and seek veterinary advice if you notice anything unusual.

Can Fleas Kill My Hamster?

If not treated properly and on time, heavy flea infestations could kill your hamster because they could feed on too much blood, leading to severe anemia.

Fleas are especially dangerous for hamsters due to their small size, so you should react immediately and contact your vet if you suspect that your hamster has fleas.

Final Thoughts

Hamsters can get fleas, though it’s usually quite rare. Still, if your hamster is suffering from a flea infestation, you’ll need to contact your vet quickly to reduce the chances of health damage in your little rodent.

Overall, the best way of keeping fleas at bay and away from your home is to keep up good environmental hygiene, including of your hamster’s enclosure. Also make sure other pets in the household are flea free and regularly treated with a suitable flea treatment.

Featured Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

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