It is often normal if your hamster’s fur looks greasy for a day or two, but when the situation is persistent, there is probably a reason behind this, as hamsters are very careful to keep their fur clean, cuddly, and as insulating as possible.
- Why does hamsters’ fur become greasy?
- How to safely clean your hamster’s greasy fur?
- 1- Your hamster can’t take care of his fur anymore
- 2- Too much humidity
- 3- Infection by Ectoparasites like mites
- 4- Something wrong with your hamster’s sandbox
- 5- Problem with the bedding
- 6- An inappropriate or poorly maintained cage.
- 7- Too high a temperature
- 8- Your hamster is over excited
- 9- An unbalanced diet
- 10- Direct exposure to sunlight
- Final Thoughts
Why does hamsters’ fur become greasy?
Your hamster’s fur becomes greasy because he can’t remove the excess of skin oil secreted by the sebaceous glands, this waxy matter or oily substance covers his skin and sticks to his fur to protect and insulate him from elements such as cold, and heat and protect him from parasites and skin diseases.
How to safely clean your hamster’s greasy fur?
To remove the excess oil from your hamster’s fur, you can either help (her) him take his regular sand baths by gently putting him in the sandbox, then take small pinches of clean sand and sprinkle them on your hamster’s back, he will get rid of it by himself.
If your hamster is sick or has a fracture for example and can’t take a sand bath, you will soak a small woolen cloth in clean and warm water, wring it out well before passing it gently over your hamster’s fur to remove the excess oil.
Never wet your hamster.
Here are now, the different reasons why your hamster’s fur looks greasy and oily so that you can help him get his coat clean and solve this problem at its source.
1- Your hamster can’t take care of his fur anymore
Hamsters spend a lot of time grooming themselves, they are creatures that keep their fur clean because it is what insulates them from cold and humidity.
If your hamster’s fur looks greasy it may be that he can’t groom and clean it anymore and the reasons can be multiple, here are the most frequent ones:
- Your hamster may have fallen and suffered an injury that prevents him from grooming
- Oral pain or another hamster disease and he prefers to rest instead of cleaning his fur (hamsters always try to hide their disease)
- The older the hamster is, the more he will need your help to clean his coat and remove the excess oil in his coat.
2- Too much humidity
If the humidity level exceeds 50%, hamsters tend to secrete more skin oil in order to isolate themselves from the humid air and save their body temperature.
Consider moving his enclosure to a place that is not too humid and your hamster will resume cleaning his fur and removing the excess skin oil.
The more water droplets in the air, the more oil your hamster will secrete to insulate his skin from this moisture and these oils will accumulate on his fur.
3- Infection by Ectoparasites like mites
When a hamster is infected by mites, its skin will start to secrete more oils as protection and your hamster will also spend more time scratching instead of cleaning its fur and it will quickly become greasy.
In this case, you will also notice bald patches especially over the back and rump, and skin lesions.
4- Something wrong with your hamster’s sandbox
To remove the excess oil from their fur, hamsters use sand baths, which means that they throw sand on their fur and the grains of sand will get covered with oil when the hamsters drop the sand from their fur, they remove the excess secret oil and keep their fur clean.
So if you haven’t installed a sandbox in your hamster’s enclosure, it’s time to order one. You can use kids’ play sand, it’s safe for hamsters.
You may have a sandbox but you may not be changing the sand too often or you may be using the wrong kind of sand!
You need to clean and change the sand more often and clean the sandbox so that the sand grains always stay dry and clean.
5- Problem with the bedding
The smaller the thickness of the bedding, the greasy your hamster will become. The hamster is always digging in his bedding and every time his fur is in contact with the bedding, it will get impregnated with the oils sweetened by the hamster.
And if the cage is too small and you don’t put too much bedding and you don’t change it often, the bedding will become greasy and your hamster will get soiled with his own oils every time he is in contact with his bedding.
So make sure to clean and change your hamster’s bedding regularly.
6- An inappropriate or poorly maintained cage.
Your hamster’s enclosure should never be covered because if you put a cover on your hamster’s cage, the humidity level will increase and your hamster will start to feel cold in winter or heated in hot seasons and its skin will start to secrete an excess of oil to insulate it from temperature fluctuations.
Be sure to keep your hamster in large, well-ventilated enclosures to prevent its fur from becoming oily on a regular basis.
You should also clean your hamster’s cage regularly and thoroughly clean the decorative elements, especially the tunnels and hideaways which are likely to be more impregnated with your hamster’s oils and those left by him marking his territory with his scent glands.
7- Too high a temperature
If it is too hot in your hamster’s cage, he will sweat profusely, especially if it’s a Syrian hamster. This sweat will mix with the waxy substance he secretes from his skin and his fur will quickly become sticky and greasy since sand baths will not be enough to clean it.
The ideal temperature for hamsters is between 65°F and 75°F.
8- Your hamster is over excited
If your hamster has greasy fur it may be due to excess testosterone and over-excitement. Excessive production of certain hormones, especially testosterone, has an influence on sebaceous glands which will start to secrete more oil and your hamster’s fur will quickly become oily and sticky.
You will encounter this problem when your hamster is stressed either because of a congenital condition or during mating.
9- An unbalanced diet
Eating too much fat or too much sugar, this happens if you give your hamster too many treats (nuts, cheese, and sweet fruit), the fat and carbohydrates will cause your hamster’s sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands in the skin) to secrete too much oil and sand baths alone will not be enough to rid your hamster’s fur of this excess oil.
Make sure your hamster’s diet is well balanced and avoid giving him too many fatty and sugary treats.
10- Direct exposure to sunlight
A study has shown that when your hamster is exposed to direct sunlight, the UV rays may directly activate the functions of the sebaceous gland to produce increased amounts of sebum, which means that your hamster’s skin will produce more oil and its fur will quickly become greasy.
Avoid exposing your hamster to direct sunlight, this will also prevent skin cancer.
If your hamster’s coat remains greasy for several days and none of the above reasons are behind the problem, I recommend that you take your hamster to a vet and ask for more advice.