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About Roborovskis | Health
• Choosing• Cages•Toys• Bedding• Food• Health
Roborovski hamsters rarely get sick and when they do they can be hard to treat. Having had to struggle for 2 weeks, getting oral antibiotics in a cross and wriggling Robrovski at one given point, I know Roborovskis are not the ideal patients. That said however, they often recover quickly and show great stamina.

Ailments I have found to be most frequent in Robrovskis are: Injuries caused by fighting, Mite infestations, Tumors and the genetic spinning defect. These will be the health problems I will cover on this page for the time being. As my knowledge of health problems in Roborovskis broadens, I will add more.

A pestered and severely bitten Roborovski
Fighting: Signs
Even though Roboborovskis usually like company, it's always wise to look for signs of possible fighting. Roborovskis tend to fight mostly over wheels and over food, so always make sure both are provided for in abundance.

The first sign of fighting (which occurs mainly at night, are bald patches or scabs on the Roborovski's bum. This is the area pestered Robos are bitten first.

Often it isn't all that clear that a Robo is being pestered. So also look for a Robo that is walking around with constantly filled pouches, a sign that it may not be allowed to eat in peace. Or a Robo that is much thinner and smaller than the rest, it may be prevented access to food in general. Or a Robo exhibiting stereo typical behaviour, like running laps in rapid succession or running back and forth alongside the egdes of the cage.
These are signs that something is amiss in the hierarchial structure in a cage and that the deviant Roborovski may be pestered or otherwise uncomfortable.

When the biting draws blood, its time to rescue that little Robo from it's bullies immediately. Do not wait with separating the Roborovski, if its already injured it is probably weaker and increasingly likely to be targeted again. Apart from that, the wound needs time to heal before it gets infected.

When the biting is not drawing blood yet and the Roborovski does not appear to be too stressed already, you may consider adding wheels and offering more food and food dishes, adding a few tunnels for the Robo to hide in might also help. Generally the situation should improve within a few days, if not seperate the Robo immediately.
Fighting: Treatment and tips
You will have to separate the injured Robo from the group or you can choose to remove the bully (if there is one). Removing the bully might prove to be tricky, because most often the bully is replaced by another dominant Roborovski and the pestered Robo will continu to be attacked.

Separating the injured Roborovski is generally safest, you can always try to reintroduce them (using the split cage method, or the vanilla essence method) after it is fully recovered.

Treatment of the wound:
Luckily Roborovskis are exceptionally fast healers. A bite wound like the one shown above heals by itself in about a week, with first hairs returning within a week or 2 (depending on the damage done to the area). Disinfecting a dirty wound can be done with a cloth and (cooled) boiled water. I would advise against creams or ointments since they tend to ingest it when cleaning their own fur. There are medicinal creams containing antibiotics, in case the wound is already infected, but those should only be used in concurrence with a vet.

Using a "clean" and dust free type of bedding can aid the healing process as well. Beddings as Care Fresh, corn cob based beddings, mini-hemp (or aubiose or hemparade), pellets and wood chips (not shavings) can be great temporary alternatives.
Regular toilet paper or tissues can be used as well.

After the recovery
When the Roborovski has recovered enough, you can choose to place it back with its former cage mates. Some precautions are in order though. Never put the Robo back without a proper introduction.
The split cage method (as described in the behavior section) has been used often with good result. Be sure to scrub the whole cage and all of the toys before attempting an introduction!
Mites: Signs
Scratching, scratchign and more scratching! If your Roborovksi scratches itself a lot, there is a chance it has mites. Mites can be seen by the naked eye as little moving dots in the hamsters' fur.

Mites cause a lot of itching and can be really contagious so isolating the hamster and preventive treatment of other hamsters is in order.
Mites can also be localized in the ears (ear mites). If this is the case, the ears will look crusty and crumpled. Again ear mites cause a lot of itching, so your Roborovski will scratch its ears incessantly.

When the hamster is very weak or old or when the mite infection is too advanced, the infestation can turn into mange, a widespread infection of the skin with excessive fur loss, redness and scaliness. In this case you will have to see a vet immediately, as treatment with antibiotics and stronger medication than the over-the-counter ones may be necessary. Mange is very contagious, so isolate the hamster immediately.
Mite infestation in a Roborovski
As far as I know, Roborovskis are not more susceptible to tumors, than any other hamster. There is no treatment for tumors, Roborovskis are too small to operate on.
The best thing to do is to make it feel as comfortable as possible and monitor the growth process of the tumor. If the growth is scratched open or gets infected or otherwise causes serious discomfort it may be time to pay a visit to the vet. Hamsters seldomly show pain and when they do, you'll know it's serious.
Mites: Treatment
  Isolate the hamster and clean out the cage. After sterilizing the cage and providing fresh bedding, spray the entire cage with anti-mite spray designed for caged birds or small animals. The one I have used include those from Beaphar. The small dosage of the pipettes remedies usually does not cut it for me, so I tend to stick with the sprays.

Spray the hamster with the anti-mite spray while shielding its eyes and head. For effective treatment the anti-mite fluid should come in contact with the skin, otherwise the mites cannot be killed effectively.
The treatment is repeated once a week untill all signs of mites and itching are gone. Often no more than 2 treatments are necessary to cure a mild mite infestation. If there is no improvement after 2 weeks or the condition seems to get worse rapidly, consult a vet. Discomfort by dry and scaly skin can be relieved somewhat by rubbing in some olive oil, which is harmless when ingested by the hamster.

Before and after handling your hamster, wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap to prevent spreading the infection. Hamster mites can bite humans, causing small welts, but they cannot live in human skin. So rodent mites will not cause scabies in humans.
There is an exception and that is the Sarcoptes scabei mite, which causes sarcoptic mange. This type of mite however is very rarely seen in hamsters.

Non Standard mite remedies:
Apart from the over the counter standard anti-mite sprays available, readers have suggested other remedies that seem to work very well. I will note them here for informational purposes only:

Listerine (as noted on
Mix 1 tablespoon of Listerine (not flavoured) and 1 tablespoon of Witch Hazel with 2 cups of boiled water cooled down to room temperature. Rub over hamster's body daily, repeat for about 3-4 days, avoid head and eyes.

Some people recommend tea tree oil. To my knowledge however, tea tree is a very toxic substance and irritates the skin, especially allready damaged skin. If there are home remedies containing Tea tree oil that worked for your hamster without any damaging side effects please let me know.
Spinning: Signs
  Some bloodlines seem to produce individuals with a "spin", though it is still quite uncommon. These individuals have moderate to severe problems with their balance. Although mild cases are able to cope with their affliction, it is not advisable to keep breeding with those bloodlines as it is not known if the condition can pop up later in the line in worse form.
Also the spinning defect seems to occur more frequently in the White Face Roborovskis. It is not known if the spinning defect is somehow linked to color or if this is a side effect of increased inbreeding.
When excited or stressed, or in worse cases, all of the time, the Robo spins endlessly around its axis. It is not something they do on purpose, they really can't help themselves.
Examples of how serious this affliction can be, can be seen on the two movies shown on the right. One I found on ebay a long while ago and the other movie that was send in by Lijuan.
  Spinning: Treatment
  There is no cure for spinning as it is a congenital neurological disorder. You can relieve the symptoms in some cases.
If you have a Roborovski suffering from spinning it may be a good idea to separate the spinning robo from its cage mates .
The cage mates of a spinning robo can get stressed and irritated by the company of an uncontrolable spinning individual. The spinner might be more susceptible to attacks and may find it difficult to find any rest.
The spinning itself can worsen due to stress and excitement, so creating a safe (no level cage) and quiet environment for the spinning Robo might reduce the spinning and enable the hamster to lead a relatively normal life.
Movies of spinning in Roborovskis
(Rollover for the video menu)  
Spinning Robo on eBay ^^  
Spinning Robo by Lijuan^^
Final note on spinning
Spinning in Roborovskis is found in several degrees of severity. You'll have to decide for yourself if the quality of life for your Robo is adequate to your standards.
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