Thank you for the further information about wee Truffle.
Even though she is appearing bright and well in herself, I'd be a wee bit concerned about this slight change in behavior alongside the fecal staining. The reason, as I am sure you will appreciate, is that hamsters are a prey species and instinct tells them to hide any signs that they feel unwell (since it would make the a target for predation). And if she nipped you, I'd be concerned that she does feel unwell enough to be taking a 'defense is the best offense' approach to put distance between herself and anyone else.
Now the fecal staining despite normal feces is certainly abnormal but not a big hint to what is amiss for her. If you had noted diarrhea in the cage or only on her, then we'd be thinking about things like wet tail or colitis. But with these more mild signs, we have to consider if there is a primary GI gastroenteritis (causing slightly sticky feces), if she has had a decrease in her fiber intake (either by what is offered but more often due to them selectively grazing), dental disease (which can lead to that selective grazing), or an internal issue that isn't giving us overt signs except a decline in grooming (which is the other consideration for fecal staining with normal feces). And just to note if the feces has not been completely normal, then we can see fresh blood from the colon becoming irritative. Furthermore, if the feces has been sitting on her skin, it can cause a moist dermatitis and scald + we could see fresh blood from this as well.
In her case, if you can comfortably handle her, it would be worth giving her a thorough examination. You want to check that she doesn't have a wet chin or disheveled coat over the chest and forepaws (hints of drooling). If you can, do have a peek in her mouth to assess her teeth. (you may only be able to appreciate the incisors but that is a start --for looking at the rest and ruling out tumors in the mouth, you may need your vet to do so). If they are overgrown or you suspect something amiss further into the mouth, then we'd want these checked for her by her vet.
Continuing your examination, the next step would be to wash her back end with warm water dampened cotton wool to see if there is any sign of skin based irritation. If there is, salt water bathing the area would be indicated (avoid topical creams because hamsters will just lick it off). If it is clear, then we have to consider that the blood could be part of a colitis, and that would be a cue to consider having a vet check for her so that this could be diagnosed and treated.
Finally, if all your external checks are normal, then you can consider a trial on a fibre supplement and GI microflora support agent to her diet. The fiber would help bulk up the feces and ensure proper fecal formation and passage. The microflora support would aid in settling the GI if there has been some kind of GI upset while you have been away. The two products that you might want to consider (and are available OTC at the vets) are the paste formulation called Protexin Fibreplex (link
) or the pelleted fiber product called Protexin Pro-Fibre (link
). (Do note that while these products are labeled for rabbits, it is the same one we'd use for small rodents like hamsters, example
). Both have that fiber bolus we would want to give as well as a pro-biotic element to support that delicate GI microflora. So, this would be a consideration as long as the blood doesn't ape par to be coming from the GI itself.
Overall, hamsters are masters of hiding illness from us. Still the fecal staining and her grumpiness are hints that all is not right in the world of Truffle. Therefore, consider a thorough wee examination here. Depending on your findings, we'd want to address them as I have noted. And if all appears normal, then consider a fiber/microflora support and monitoring her to ensure that this isn't something brewing that she just doesn't want to tell us about.
If you don’t already have an exotics vet, you can find one near you at http://www.aemv.org/vetlist.cfm
) . If you are struggling also check here (http://www.rabbit.org/vets/vets.html
), as rabbit vets often see our wee pocket pets as well.
I hope this information is helpful.
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