A hamster first aid kit can be as big or as small as you need. How much you have depends on how far away you are from your vet and how many hamsters you have.
Only have items in your kit that you know how to use safely. Do not give medications without the advice of your vet. Never give medications intended for human use to your hamster.
The smallest first aid kit should have the phone number of a good small animal vet, a vet fund to cover unplanned vet expenses, and a carrier to transport your hamster.
A first aid kit at home should never replace vet attention if your hamster is unwell.

First Aid Kit Lists

Essential Equipment

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Hamster carrier

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Vet phone number

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Vet fund

Optional Equipment

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1ml and 5ml syringes

For giving medications and water

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Snugglesafe, hot water bottle or heat mat

Place these on the outside of the cage, not inside. Do not use with an unconscious hamster who cannot move away from the heat.

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Digital scales

Choose scales that read to 1g

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Cotton buds and cotton pads

for cleaning cuts and wiping sticky eyes

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Glass dropper bottles

For storing mixed medications

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Comb and/or brush

For fur care with long haired Syrian hamsters

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Small glass bowls

For water bowls or giving soft foods to unwell hamsters

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Towel

For covering carriers on the way to the vet, or swaddling reluctant hamsters for medications

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Nail clippers

If you are confident in trimming nails. If you are not, ask your vet

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Pill cutter/crusher

If your vet has tablet medications that need to be mixed up at home. In the UK compounding vet pharmacies are uncommon.

Over the Counter Health Supplies

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Diastix and/or Ketostix

If you have Chinese hamsters, Campbells or hybrids

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Johnson's Tea Tree Cream

Useful for dry skin or wounds

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Vaseline

A small lip-balm pot has many uses in the hamster room, including for quieting squeaky wheels and the emergency treatment of paraphimosis in male hamsters

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Cage disinfectant

For cleaning cages after illness. Your choice depends on the pathogens you need to eliminate, for example Virkon for bacteria and viruses, Total Mite Kill for mites.

Tempting food

You can use wet rich foods for building up poorly hamsters, hiding medications in or tempting sick hamsters to eat. Normal hamster mix should make up the majority of their diet, but extras are helpful short term.

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Wet cat or dog food

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Lactol and powdered baby porridge

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Baby food jars

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Ratrations mash mix

Supplements and Herbal Remedies

If you choose to use supplements or herbal remedies, make sure you are familiar with their use and side effects. Do not use them instead of seeking vet advice. Harm can come to hamsters who are treated incorrectly with herbal remedies.

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Probiotic

For hamster on antibiotics. One example is ProC.

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Arrowroot powder

For diarrhoea. Use after seeing a vet.

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Fenugreek powder

For diabetes. Use after testing and seeing a vet. It can cause harm in non-diabetic hamsters.

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Turmeric (or golden) paste

For arthritis. Inform your vet if you are using this. Do not use with Metacam (melocxicam).

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Cod liver oil

For arthritis. Use in small amounts.

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Vitamin solution or paste

For hamsters in need of a boost. Healthy hamsters on a good quality commercial food do not need regular vitamins.

Books

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Hamsterlopaedia

This is ideal for someone with one or a few hamsters. It is a good starter guide to hamster care including health.

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Diseases of Small Domestic Rodents

A veterinary text book, but more accessible than the BSAVA one.

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BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets

A veterinary text book which your vet practice may have. It includes drug doses and information about surgery.

Quarantine

When you think about hamster first aid, it is easy to forget quarantine. This is important if you have more than one hamster.

A sick hamster should be isolated away from other hamsters. This prevents cross-infection to the other hamsters. It also allows the unwell hamster to have closer care and attention in a quiet environment. Find out more about hamster quarantine here.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016. It has been updated for clarity in May 2019.