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Old 06-23-2020, 01:11 PM   #1
gettons_1980
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Default Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Hello everyone,

I am new member of the forum! Apologies for the length of this post but it is very important I provide the full context.


3 June 2020

We have two female Russian hamsters (9 months old, one probably a pure white russian, the other one a mixture?) living together since last November. They are quite close, play and sometimes sleep together and one is clearly dominant on the other.
Usually the play/fight involves a lot of squeaking, chasing and one surrendering to the other, never with bloodshed. The dominant one tends to lick the underbelly/genital area of the other, and a couple of days ago we noticed this one has a sore skin in the area.
There are some scratches too, difficult to say if caused by the fight itself or by something else in the cage. We are quite sure these scratches are fairly recent.



7 June 2020

The surrender hamster is getting better, and the scratch(es) healing properly with this this cream twice a day https://www.vetsend.co.uk/bunny-nature-care-gel/

I kept searching for expert vets and found other two wich provide remote assistance. One of them being somewhat expert of exotic animals (Acorn House Vet) , and the other one instead not so expert (Vets-now.com). Both, however suggested to keep an eye on them and taking further the already in place precautions, namely when I give them food, not only to use two separate bowls, but also place them on different levels (if cage allows, which is the case for me). This because feeding is one of the most critical moment and in fact sometimes they play/squeak when they get food.

Since then we put them back together, and will be monitoring the situation as it goes. I really do want to separate if and only if it is really needed (but obviously well in time before it's too late). We will be seeing a specialist next week that is supposed to have an expert on exotic animals (Lawton & Stoakes Veterinary Surgery).


Attached is a second photo I took yesterday, 2 days after we put them back together.



21 June 2020

I re-joined the two hamsters together 2 weeks ago. Over the past two weeks I did notice a few squeak but nothing major. AlsoI have been checking everyday in serach of potential skin lesions and everything was fine until this morning.

Today I feeded the dominant one first,after a good 30 mins the other one woke up and had some food too. All was fine, but at some point I have heards more concitated squeaks, so I went checking, and found again the dominant one licking (or possibly doing something else) on the other hamster's belly. I took a quick footage (so I have something to share when asking for advices) and made sure they stopped fighting/playing/whatever-ing they where doing. I noticed a very small red dot on the surrendeder, and quickly decided to separate them again for the day as I was about to go out.

I have just got back home, and checked what I thought it was a minor scrach, and it appears very similar to what I saw earlier this month.



Again, I am not sure if the skin lesion is just an accident as they are only playing or anyway not fighting at all

OR if this is a fight and chances are it can get worse anytime soon.

This is the footage of what I call "fight" :https://streamable.com/jngjpx


Bottom line


Again, I would be really glad if someone could shed a light on this.

Unfortunately, after things got better, I decided to cancel the appointment with a specialist not only because I thought there would not be the need any longer, but also because it would take 40 mins by car and thought it was not worth it for the hamsters.

I am not sure what to do now, currently they are in two different cages since 20th morning UK time.
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Old 06-23-2020, 02:29 PM   #2
souffle
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

This is definitely a fight and the mark appear to be bite wounds. The first pic look like it might be infected? Keep them separate now as it is not a natural situation to keep two adults of the same sex together. It would never happen in the wild and they usually fight and can actually kill each other. The stress of living with a bully is also not good for their health. They should settle alone in around 10 days and be much more people friendly. Levels like you have there are not idea for dwarfies and they get territorial over the shelves and food bowls. Keep them alone and well apart with no access to each other. What bedding are you using? Is there soil in the cage? If the wounds don't heal in a week then see the vet. I hope they settle well.
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:16 PM   #3
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

If they were my hamsters I would be keeping them separate form now on. As you keep saying one of them is clearly the more dominant and going by the clip of them fighting/squeaking I think you have done the right thing in separating them and should keep them that way.
Have the wounds(?) started to clear up since separation?
Do both the hamsters seem happier now they are apart?
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:25 PM   #4
sushi_78
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Yes I would keep them separated now. People tend to find they're happier that way anyway. I can't see any benefit to having them together now.

This recent thread deals with a similar issue: Pair of Winter Whites- should I separate?
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Old 06-24-2020, 02:42 AM   #5
gettons_1980
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Thank you very much for your reponses.
Yes, little scratches healed in the first instance. The second time it happened a few days ago, so still healing, but looks all right for now.
And yes, I do use a mixture of soil and paper bedding, this way they can burrow and do their things. I would strongly advise to use soil in fact as it resembles much more real life being them natural burrowers.

I will keep them separate then! Will just need to find another similar cage so they both have same treatment.
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Old 06-24-2020, 05:44 AM   #6
gettons_1980
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Thanks everyone,

I will probably keep them separated then, if this is the general consensus.
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Old 06-24-2020, 06:05 AM   #7
Ria P
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

I'm a bit upset that you say that you will PROBABLY keep them separated. It looks like one hamster has already been injured by the other and i wonder what else needs to happen before you are convinced that it is the right and only thing to do.
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Old 06-24-2020, 07:03 AM   #8
souffle
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Soil is not really a good substrate for hamsters. When damp it can harbour fungus and bacteria and they tend to get really grubby. There are quite a few good substrates that do hold tunnel shapes well and allow burrowing behavior.
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Old 06-24-2020, 03:11 PM   #9
gettons_1980
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
I'm a bit upset that you say that you will PROBABLY keep them separated. It looks like one hamster has already been injured by the other and i wonder what else needs to happen before you are convinced that it is the right and only thing to do.
That was probably me not paying too much attention while composing the message.
As you can see in my very first reply I did not use “probably”. Trust me, I am the one upset just because I have always kept them together and I really hope this is the right thing to do.
Having said that I separated them days ago following the second episode and I am not intended to put them together. In fact I am already arranging for a second cage the same size of the other one, which is a karat 80.


Please think twice before posting next time.
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Old 06-24-2020, 03:17 PM   #10
gettons_1980
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Default Re: Dwarf hamster skin lesions

Quote:
Originally Posted by souffle View Post
Soil is not really a good substrate for hamsters. When damp it can harbour fungus and bacteria and they tend to get really grubby. There are quite a few good substrates that do hold tunnel shapes well and allow burrowing behavior.

I am very surprised about that. I have been reading and watching a lot and many swear about how good soil is for hamsters (obviously organic soil). I use that with a mixture of paper bedding, organic cat grass, Timothy hay etc.


What would you recommend instead?
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