Cherishing every little personality

Based in West Wiltshire, a few miles away from Bath, Metallica Hamstery primarily specialises in the Normal (Agouti) Chinese.

Skin Splits in Chinese Hamsters

At present very little has been written on the subject of ‘skin splits’ in Chinese Hamsters but when I undertook further research on the subject after one of my own hamsters developed them, I discovered that this has been a known issue in Chinese Hamsters.

What are they?

Skin splits are small cuts that appear to the back of the neck anywhere from the base of the skull to the upper area between the shoulder blades. The cut has a neat edge as if it were made with a sharp object and has a small amount of fur loss around it.

What causes them?

The cuts will usually clear up on their own without intervention but it’s worth keeping an eye out for changes in the cut and taking the affected hamster to the vet if you are at all concerned.

At present their cause is unknown but my own research has led me along several possible paths (and these are simply theories rather than proven medical fact at this point).

Excess of Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone that is often released during times of stress and is responsible for the regulation of the body’s response to stress. If too much of this hormone is produced then symptoms such as thin fragile skin, which is slow to heal may be displayed. The rather sudden occurrence of skin splits suggests some fragility in the skin over the neck in Chinese Hamsters and upon noting the occurrences in three Chinese Hamsters belonging to Metallica Hamstery, several occurred after what could be interpreted as stressful events such as changes within the hamstery (a new hamster arriving), attending shows, climate change and during periods of illness.
Given the occurrences in one hamster, there is something to suggest that there may be something within this theory that needs further investigation.

Fatty Lumps
Fatty lumps are occasionally seen on the back of the neck and over the shoulders of some Chinese Hamsters. The theory could be that these lumps are stretching what could be skin that is more fragile due to a response to an excess of cortisol.

Genetics
In a survey carried out by Metallica Hamstery, it was noted that 9/10 hamsters with the condition also had a family member who had been affected and the 10th was a pet shop hamster so her lines could not be traced.  There was three generations of one family affected with a mother, two sons and a granddaughter all having had the condition.

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