How to Get Rid of Fleas on Hamsters

Fleas are rare in hamsters, but because hamsters are so small, just a few fleas can make your tiny friend very uncomfortable. Getting rid of fleas requires a comprehensive approach that treats not only your hamster but also the household and other animals in it.

Hamster isolated
Fleas can turn the happiest hamster into an unhappy one.
credit: Igor Kovalchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Treating Other Household Animals

Because hamsters do not go outside, they are not naturally exposed to pests, like fleas, that could lurk in gardens. As a result, a hamster with fleas usually got those fleas from other household pets, including dogs and cats. If you find fleas on your hamster, you need to take a comprehensive approach -- immediately check your other pets for fleas. Treating all animals at the same time will ensure that you get rid of the infestation.

How to Identify Fleas

Hamsters can attract mites and can suffer from other skin conditions, so a correct diagnosis is crucial. Fleas are tiny animals that move quickly when you disturb your hamster's fur. Mites, on the other hand, are microscopic, so you won't be able to see them moving on the skin. Mites and other skin conditions -- including bacterial infections -- are also more likely to cause loss of hair, scaling and dandruff, while the most common sign of fleas is intense scratching and the presence of droppings, which look like tiny bits of dark red or black dust.

KIll Fleas With Appropriate Products

You can get flea sprays and shampoos designed especially for hamsters through your local pet store or your vet. It's important that you use only products that are designed especially for hamsters or rodents, since chemicals in products made for dogs and cats can be highly dangerous to hamsters. Follow the directions indicated on the bottle and use extreme care when applying -- because hamsters are so small, it would be very easy for the spray to get into their eyes.

Clean Your Hamster's Environment

To ensure that fleas don't return, you will need to thoroughly clean your hamster's cage. If you use bedding such as pine or cotton, get rid of it. Wash the tank or cage using a flea-killing product that is safe for pets. Follow the instructions on the bottle -- you might or might not need to mix with water -- and make sure the cage is completely dry before you place new bedding in or allow your hamster to return to it.