Hamsters are one of the smallest members of the rodent family. With small furry bodies, short legs, and tails, these are one of the cutest animals on the planet. They are also now one of the most popular pets and are a family favorite for many kids and adults.
If you’re thinking of bringing a pet hamster home, it would be helpful to know the animal better. An understanding of the anatomy of a hamster and all of its body parts and functions can equip future owners with the knowledge they need. You will also be able to take care of the animal better and be able to detect any problems quickly.
What are the main body parts and features in hamsters and why are they important? Let’s discuss it below.
When it comes to hamsters, the first feature one instantly thinks of is ‘fur’. These little furballs are widely known for their cuddly and soft bodies with different types of fur.
Most hamsters will have short-haired fur that would be silky and smooth to touch. It often has a shiny, satin-like look to it. However, some breeds also have longer haired fur such as Teddy Bear hamsters.
Gently brushing the fur occasionally will keep it soft and tangle-free. You should also provide it comfortable, smooth bedding so the hair does not get stuck in it.
With changing seasons and passing age, your hamster may start to lose some fur.
If you notice premature fur loss in your hamster, you should consult a vet and get it checked for an underlying skin condition.
A hamster first opens its eyes around 11-14 days after it is born. They have round, innocent, dark eyes. However, their eyesight is not that good. In fact, hamsters see the world in black and white, with shades of grey, and sometimes faded green and blue hues.
Being nocturnal animals, hamsters have the ability to see well in low-light conditions or at night. With little to no colors in their vision, we can say that they’re essentially color blind. They are also not capable of seeing too far away. Despite poor eyesight, they are able to navigate easily using their senses of touch and smell.
Always keep an eye on your hamsters’ eyes. Entropion is a common painful condition where the inner part of the eyelid starts rubbing against the hamster’s eye. Other eye problems to look out for include protruding, sticky, or runny eyes, which may indicate an infection.
Hamsters have very unique cheeks. Not only are they adorable, but they also have an interesting feature. Most hamster breeds have expandable cheek pouches. that let them gather and carry food for longer periods of time. Their pouches can act as a form of storage for surplus food.
Furthermore, the cheek pouches don’t have salivary glands and are dry, helping hamsters keep their stored food dry and fresh.
Sometimes, the cheek may turn inside out and this requires surgery by a vet. The inside of the cheek pouches may also get cut due to food it carried or because the teeth grew too much. In order to prevent such issues, you should check your hamsters’ teeth regularly.
Teeth are one of the most efficient parts of a hamster, helping them chew seeds or hard foods. Due to their sharp teeth, they can gnaw on anything in their sight. Their front tor incisor teeth are chisel-shaped, and they keep growing throughout their life.
In fact, harder foods are a good way to wear down the teeth and even file them. You should let your pet hammy gnaw on different things like chew toys, to keep the teeth at a suitable length.
Some people often wonder, why are hamsters teeth yellow, and is that an issue? Well, this is completely normal and is caused due to their acidic saliva. Contrary to what most believe, white teeth are not considered a sign of healthy teeth in hamsters.
Keep a check on your hamsters teeth as overgrown ones are quite common and can pose health risks such as a damaged mouth. Sometimes overgrown teeth might need to get trimmed by an expert.
Hamsters have a strong and heightened sense of smell that helps them to find food, as well as aids them in identifying and differentiating between each other.
A runny nose can often indicate a sick hamster. Sometimes, if accompanied by wheezing coughing, or difficulty in breathing- it may also be a sign of respiratory disease.
Hamster Hands and Feet
These cute creatures have small, short hands and feet. With small claws, hamsters are able to dig and built tunnels or chambers to live in. A hamster’s paws also allow it to hold its’ food, climb, run, and assist it in many day-to-day activities.
‘Bumblefoot’ or pododermatitis, is one condition that can affect hamsters. It is a foot infection that makes its paws swell up. If you notice this, immediately consult a vet as it can even spread to the hamsters’ legs. To avoid the likelihood of this infection, you should keep your pets’ cage clean and dry.
Hamsters have very small tails that are usually 1/16th the length of its’ body. The tail is also covered in fur and sometimes it is not even noticeable.
So, why do hamsters have tails? Their tails actually provide them with added stability especially when they have to maneuver through difficult terrain. Plus, it is a body part that helps them communicate. When a female hamster is interested in mating, she relays this to the male by raising its tail.
Every hamster owner must know about ‘Wet Tail’, a possibly fatal disease that can affect hamsters. Symptoms of this condition include foul-smelling and severe diarrhea, blood, mucus, and a wet bottom and tail. It is a very painful condition, and it can turn deadly very quickly.
If you notice the symptoms of ‘Wet Tail’. immediately take your hamster to the vet for treatment and care.
Why do hamsters have whiskers?
Well, whiskers play an important role in hamsters functioning, as they have nerve endings and sensors in them. In fact, they are an additional sense for them as they build a picture of the surroundings by sending messages to the animals’ brain.
Using their whiskers, hamsters can gauge where they are, and also be more aware of imminent danger.
Stress, poor hygiene, or diseases can all cause the hamster to lose their whiskers. Hence, you must always keep a check on your hamsters well-being and provide it with a healthy, clean living environment, and diet. Now you know about the most vital body parts of a hamster and some very interesting facts about them. We hope this guide was useful and will help you spot any possible problems quickly, making you a better care-taker for your pet hamster in the future.