Health

Roborovski are quite robust animals and are not prone to any inheritable disease in particular as a species. Your pet may still get ill so please read on. There are many general ailments and injuries that could occur with your pet but I’ve listed the usual suspects below. These are all health concerns affecting any small rodent and none are specific to the Roborovski. The main issue with Robos is detecting the problem. Please read on for more information.

Respiratory illness is not common but any unusual noises, sneezing or discharge from the eyes and nose should be referred to your vet and treated with a course of antibiotics.

This species of dwarf hamster does not generally suffer with diabetes. It’s possible as they are mammals but it’s rare. They, therefore, do not need any changes to their diet to combat this unless they have already tested positive. Excessive drinking is usually a urine or kidney infection (see below)

Infections in the urinary tract including the kidneys can happen if the water bottle stops working due to dehydration. Roborovski don’t normally drink a lot so tap the the ball at the end of the spout at each water bottle check to make sure it’s still working as it can be hard to judge otherwise. If your Roborovski is drinking a lot, first check that the water isn’t disappearing into the bedding in front of the bottle. Then check their pee corner for any signs of discolouration. Ultimately, if you feel you Robo has a UTI then it’s best to take it to the vet for a course of antibiotics.

Obesity is an issue for some roborovski and this can be remedied by cutting back on either the amount fed or frequency of feeding and checking your hamsters weight regularly. Based on my own hamstery, your roborovski could be 20-45g but the best indicator of obesity is the chest area. This is where your robo will store excess fat and once this becomes too large the fur will rub off and you’ll have a bald spot! The only reason for losing hair in this area is because your robo needs to lose weight. Just adding a wheel will only work if your hamster chooses to use it so reduce the food first. Adding a wheel can stimulate excessive wheel running. In an overweight Roborovski, this can increase their chances of a heart attack. Anecdotally, Roborovski commonly die on, or near, their wheels. Make sure your Roborovski is fit first by introducing the wheel gradually. It’s a bit like you jumping on an exercise bike and pedalling all day if you’ve never exercised that intensely before, you are going to feel unwell. A Roborovski can’t reason like this so they potentially will run all day and all night without realising it’s making them feel poorly

One effect of being overweight and male is that your pet won’t be able to reach those sensitive areas that need cleaning. This can result in an unpleasant discharge or lump around or near his penis. You will need the help of a confident vet to remove any lumps but discharge can be treated with warm (not hot) water, hibiscrub from your vet and a cotton wool ball.

Female roborovski shouldn’t have any discharge or bleeding from their vulva area and anything like this should immediately be treated by a vet. It could be pyometra (womb infection) or similar so do not delay.

Your roborovski is not immune to cancer. Lumps can pop up on animals but are not common. Any mammal can get cancer so have your vet check any lumps you might find. I’ve encountered this only twice in Roborovski and both have been in the upper neck region leading me to suspect them to be thyroid related. Both animals were euthanised as treatment was not possible.

Lastly, a word on hair loss. Elderly roborovski do not age gracefully. As they start to get into older age they will start to gradually lose their hair from the back legs, up and over the rear end, progressing towards the front of the animal when they are very, very old. This happens to all of my Roborovski that live over 2 years until nearly, or just over, 3 years old. It looks alarming, but it’s just the aging process. For more info please read:- Your Elderly Roborovski

Signs to look out for and a word about sudden death. Roborovski should be lively, bright, ready to move away from possible predators at speed and will eat and drink in small but frequent amounts. If your Roborovski is uncharacteristically slow, uninterested when you disturb the nest, grumpy or nippy, eating and drinking too much or too little then something is wrong.

As prey animals they hide their illnesses well. Sudden death is rarely as sudden as you might think and it’s usually a low grade infection that has built up over time to the point where it overwhelms the system. Or a heart murmur at a low grade that becomes a larger problem and then the Robo dies while it’s on it’s wheel. Kidney or liver failure in older aged Robos is nearly impossible to detect.

Vigilance is key. Regular, full body health checks are essential.

If you are ever in doubt, go to a vet. If your vet is dismissive, defeatist or doesn’t want to handle or touch your hamster then you need to see a different vet. It doesn’t have to be an exotic specialist, any normal small animal vet with an interest in hamsters, mice, rats will be more than adequate than a specialist that usually sees snakes and reptiles.