Further to my report on "Are there canine spirits?"
the breezes continued
to be gusty for the next few days. The following case
was a result of gusty winds in Singapore.
A lady spent her lunch-time brought in a small barred
cage with her Roborovski hamster running around. A
hamster owner had referred her to me. She said:
"He no longer climbs the bars of his cage and he walked
with his left paw up for the past 1 week. What is his
problem and what should be done?"
"How did he hurt himself?" I asked. He lived with his
sibling in the same cage as the owner wanted both of
them to keep each other company. The lady shook her
head: "A strong wind blew his cage fell off the table
and he became lame. His cage is near the window."
"How did it happen?" I was puzzled. "A strong wind just
blew his cage off the table?"
"Not exactly," the lady elaborated. "The wind blew the
window blinds. The blinds moved back, hit the cage and
it fell down the table."
"Does the Roborovski bite people?" I asked.
"No," she said. "He cannot be caught as he runs so
wanted to examine his left fore paw closely but how to
The speedy 6-month-old Roborovski wriggled out of the
lady's hand in less than 3 seconds and landed on the
consultation table. "Catch him before he falls off the
table!" I helped the owner to corner him.
She tried to hold him a few times while I examined the
hamster and took some pictures.
"Did you see the left front paw is more swollen than the
right?" the lady with the greyish-blue glossy flowered
nails asked me. Her blue nails and a small wound in her
finger were distracting but I was able to see 1 small
red circular wound at the bottom of a swollen hamster
left paw. Were it a bite wound?
As my assistant was away for lunch, the lady helped me
to photograph the paw by shining the flashlight at the
left paw while she held the hamster with one hand. The
hamster would have no restraint and kept wriggling free.
We persisted. "Digital photography helps in the
diagnosis and review of cases," I said. For this
hamster, the ordinary digital camera or handphone would
be useless. I used the speed setting while the lady did
her lighting for me.
In this case, the diagnosis was likely to be puncture
wounds as I reviewed the photography. It was only one of
the 20 pictures I took that helped. If you click on the
thumb-nail below you can see two circular wounds in the
lower part of the swollen left fore of the hamster. They
appeared to be bite puncture wounds.
"Separate the hamsters," I advised. "The other
hamster could have bitten him."
"The two hamsters keep each other company and they are
close friends," the lady said.
"Separate him from the other hamster for the next 7 days
to enable his paw to heal," I advised.
"Will the other hamster accept him when they stay
together again? Once, he escaped and was found a day
"Did the other hamster accept him?" I asked.
"The Roborovski hamster matures around 5 weeks of age.
He is now 6 months old and there may be fighting and
biting over territory."
By now, the hamster was not so active. I needed to
see whether he could walk and groom himself. " I went to get the hamster cage. The lady put
the hamster onto the blue tray of the hamster cage. The
speedy one was still running up and down but could not
climb. He used two front paws to clean himself. As the
lady shone the flash light, I managed to catch one good
picture of him looking at me. But his normal right front
paw was not forward enough to show readers that it was
The hamster was given medication and advice to be
isolated on soft tissue bedding for 7 days. The lady had
to rush back for work. One digital photograph enabled me
to see 2 circular wounds on the ventral aspect of his
left fore paw. So were these bite puncture wounds caused
by the sibling? I believe this to be the case. The owner
probably believed it was the gusty wind that did it.
Only this Roborovski hamster know. He would not tell
tales even if he could communicate with his kind lady
caregiver who took the time and trouble to get him
checked out by the vet. I could see the swelling and one
wound when the lady held the speedy hard to catch
The second wound was revealed by the digital camera. Two
wounds indicated a bite from the upper and lower
incisors of the siblings. Perhaps, during the fall of
the cage, the sibling got frightened and bit his
Speedy young roborovskis take a much longer time and
patience to be examined. They just are too fast to catch
and never stay still for a few seconds.
Hamsters may fight when they mature. It is best to
separate them from 5 weeks of age or if they
CASE 2: Hamster Warts People do get skin warts in their hands and feet.
Recently a young man I know well went to the
hospital to get his hand warts deep frozen a few
times in order to remove them. The doctor used
liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the viral papillomas. For this hamster,
surgical removal was done.