I have recently had occasion to visit the Vets with a Syrian and a Russian Hamster. The Syrian Hamster, a 14 month old Black Longhaired Tortoiseshell and White female was found to have a small, perfectly round lump on her one ear. It felt solid to the touch. The Vet felt it was very likely to be a tumour, possibly a melanoma because of the amount of black pigment on the hamster.
She was duly taken in for an operation, which was successful and we collected her that same evening. She looked rather bloodied around her ear and had a few dissolvable stitches in it. She had received an antibiotic injection, and was running around looking slightly lopsided because she had lost half an ear. The Vet told us that he believed it was a melanoma – a rather unpleasant type of tumour, as when he had cut through it the lump was black all the way through.
She appears to have made a full recovery but we have been told to look out for other lumps, as darkly pigmented animals are prone to this type of tumour.
Our next trip was the result of one of our Black Platinum Russian Campbells females going rapidly bald on her tummy then apparently developing two large lumps on her chest ‘overnight’. She looked fine from above and these lumps could not be felt when she was picked up, but she just happened to be in a tank at eye level when she sat upright and I could see these large whitish coloured lumps between her front legs. Horrified I rushed her off to the Vets the next day.
The Vets first reaction was that these were very large aggressive tumours and that there might not be anything that could be done, but we agreed that I should bring her in so that they could see more closely what they were and drain/remove them.
When we returned to collect her after her operation, she too was fine. The lumps which had been about 0.3 inch diameter each had turned out to be abscesses possibly as a result of mastitis. The Vet described the appalling smell when he had drained them. We were given antibiotics to put in her water for 5 days. To date – 5 days after the operation she is fine and due back at the Vets in a couple of days for a check up. Interestingly, having kept hamsters for about 27 years now I have never had animals with the problems described above. The Vet said that melanoma tumours are common in darkly pigmented animals – perhaps we may see more of them with the arrival of the Melanistic Blacks this decade. I have also not known abscesses develop from mastitis although perhaps I have been fortunate.