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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20612
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Overnight, my hamster's testicles and anus have gotten very

Customer Question

Overnight, my hamster's testicles and anus have gotten very dirty. He is cleaning them, but not well enough. He's still a baby, and not totally tame (being picked up really stresses him out still) so I don't want to wipe him or anything.
This is not wet tail, the poops look normal and there isn't any wetness.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is incorrect... Justanswer told me initially that I would speak to a small animal vet, not a cat vet.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I chose the category of small animal. I don't know how to correct this, but it just automatically sent my question to cat veterinary instead...
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner. If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:

Are you seeing any moistness to the skin?

If his stools look normal, can you tell me what the material on his skin looks like?

Any change in appetite or what he is choosing to eat?

Any increase in thirst?

Can you take a photo of this? If you can do so, this will let me see what you are seeing. To post them online, you can use the paperclip icon on the tool bar above your text box. Or if you can't see that on your computer/phone, then you can post them on any other site (ie Flickr, Photobucket, imgur, etc) and paste the web link here for me to check.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the response, I was getting really irritated with justanswer. I've always been able to get help here for my dog, but last night the website gave me lots of trouble (like with glitchy problems). Anyway, I'm at work right now, but I'll answer your questions and I'll definitely get a photo sent over this evening.
1. No moistness at all. He seems dry all over with the exception of his scent glands, which he's been licking a lot (I think because he's about to go through hamster puberty). Last night he was trying to get the area clean, by licking and rubbing it with his hands, but couldn't really.
2. The stools look as they always have, and are really typical shape/color/texture for any healthy hamster. So, that's why the residue is strange. It looks like dirt. Like black/dark brown dirt. It's dry-looking. I hope I can get a good photo for you. I'm thinking of putting him in a small clear hermit crab tank and taking a photo from the bottom. His testicles were a little swollen, but I read that it's normal at his age, and the swelling seems to be going down.
3. He seems to be eating fine, but it's a little bit hard to tell with him because he's a serious hoarder (he hoards much more than my other hamster and has always been that way lol). So the changes to his food bowl are normal. The mealworm is gone, the freeze dried chicken chunk is gone, his carrot is gone, and lots of his regular food is missing as well (seeds, dried veggies, hamster block). Whether he ate that, I'm not sure. I think he ate a portion and hoarded the rest. Still totally normal behavior for him.
4. Thirst seems normal. He'd run on the saucer, drink, run again, repeat. He has never taken drink during the day, he's almost entirely nocturnal.Lastly, I had noticed recently that he will take little "naps" for 1-5 minutes after running. He doesn't go back to his burrow or into his log, he just lays down with his face beside the food bowl. I do have a couple photos of that. After the little rest, he goes right back to running or eating. I know the photo will look like he's looking for something or sniffing, but he's actually just laying there in the corner, perfectly still.
This is the only "new" behavior I've noticed from him besides the grooming of his scent glands.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh, also I would like to note that I got Stormy on 12/30/15 and he was about 4 weeks old at that time. I did NOT like the petstore I got him from - they are a small business, not a big chain. There are LOTS of exotic animals everywhere in the store, and lots of dust from cages and stuff on everything. I always worried he would have a problem from living in those conditions. He was in a really small glass tank that only had lab blocks and 1 inch of bedding with about 10 other hamsters.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

I do apologize that it was giving you trouble, I suspect they may have been doing some maintenance or upgrading the website. In any case, that sounds perfect for getting a photo of what you are seeing on his backside.

Just to touch on what you have told me so far, I am that he is otherwise appearing normal since changes to behavior or activity are often subtle hints of an unwell hamster. Furthermore, its good news to hear that his testicles aren’t looking abnormally swollen after all, since that can be a sign of infection in these wee ones. And as that can be sore as it stretches the skin, it can cause overgrooming of the area in hamsters. Still, I am keen to see what you are seeing so we can pinpoint he cause of the skin changes you are seeing.

Otherwise, I do have to note that change in “napping” is a wee bit concerning. Its not likely related to his other signs but is a bit concerning Are you finding him breathing faster at those times? Does he ever seem wobbly or faint?

Anyway, if you can tell me more about those "nap" times and post those photos when you can, I am happy to review them and help you both.

Have a good day at work and I will speak to you later,

Dr. B.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just got home and went ahead and put Stormy into a little hermit crab tank for holding that was perfect for the photos. I cleaned his entire tank. I just cleaned it 4 days ago, but I figured since he was already out and maybe not feeling well, it might help to have a cleaner environment. I also wanted to see if he was lethargic at all. He was lucid and moving around as normal, and even chewed a bit on the hermit crab tank until he was put back in his regular home. He came up to me and sniffed my hands as usual - so that was all the same for him as far as temperament goes.
Also, his bum looks a little better than last night, though it still looks much dirtier than usual.
During the napping, he doesn't seem to be breathing heavier or anything. I'll keep an eye out for him being wobbly or faint, but I haven't noticed that so far. It is a weird behavior. He doesn't do it all the time, but I would say 2-3 times per week during running.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One of the more seasoned hamster owners at a hamster forum I joined recently suggested that it might all be related to puberty since he is still young and not full grown. I don't know, I just want to make sure I do whatever keeps him safe and well.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

My apologies for the delay, its seems your question had been closed before your reply was reported to me.

In any case, based on your photos, that isn't dirt as much as its hyperpigmentation. This is where the melanocytes in the skin react to a low grade irritation (its the same reason our skin darkens when it is "irritated" by the sun). If he has been grooming there more, it may be that he has had a small injury (there does look to be a hint of red on the left side) and his grooming is irritating the skin. Otherwise, it could just be part of that tissue healing. In any case, there is nothing active to worry about there but we just would want to keep a close eye that it and the overgrooming settles with time (though the area may just be darker for longer).

Otherwise, do keep an eye on that behavior after exercise. My suspicion is that he may actually have an underlying heart +/- lung (though usually those have more signs like discharges, sneezing, breathing changes all the time) that just causes him to get a bit faint after intense exercise. As long as he doesn't loose consciousness and is managing to live a normal life, we'd not be worried here and want to just keep an eye.

Please take care,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. *Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need, as this is the only way I receive credit for helping you today. Thank you! : )