Demodectic mange: A common external parasite problem of hamsters, is caused by mites that reside within the hair follicles and certain glands of the skin. The mites cause dry, scaly skin and significant hair loss, especially over the back. This disease is rarely a problem by itself and is frequently associated with long-standing, debilitating diseases, such as those involving the kidneys. Hamsters exhibiting hair loss should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The doctor will do a skin scraping and examine it under the microscope. The presence of mites in the scraping confirms the diagnosis. This disease can be treated, but the patient may have an underlying problem for which there is no practical treatment or cure.
Intestinal Parasites: Hamsters frequently harbor tapeworms within their small intestines. Heavy infections may cause weight loss. Lighter infections usually go undetected unless pieces of the worms pass Out of the hamster’s anus or appear in the feces. People can become infected with the same organism. Tapeworms can be transmitted to uninfected hamsters (or people) when feces harboring tapeworm eggs are inadvertently eaten. This underscores the importance of restricting access to hamsters and their enclosures by very young children. All such encounters should be carefully monitored. Hamster owners suspicious of this parasite problem should submit a fecal sample to a veterinarian for analysis. The presence of tapeworm eggs in the sample (noted microscopically) confirms the diagnosis. Treatment can be instituted by the veterinarian.
Pinworms are a less common intestinal parasitism of hamsters. These extremely tiny worms reside within the large intestines and usually cause no signs at all. Pinworm infections can be diagnosed by a veterinarian by microscopic examination of the feces. Pinworm eggs passing from the anus of the hamster sometimes cause intense itching in this area. A veterinarian may be able to detect the presence of pinworm eggs by pressing cellophane tape to this area and examining it under the microscope. Pinworms of hamsters do not cause disease in people.