What Is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a birth defect that causes excess cerebrospinal fluid to build up in the skull.  

What does it look like?

The pressure from this fluid causes the skull to take on a domed appearance and the eyes to "bug" out (see photos). 

What Causes Hydrocephalus?
In hamsters, hydrocephalus is a genetic condition. If a hydrocephalic hamster is bred to healthy stock, the offspring may be asymptomatic. However, upon necropsy, it is revealed that all of the offspring are affected by the condition. This means that it is possible to produce healthy looking hamsters with the capability of carrying on a severe disability. For this reason, Cheeks and Squeaks advocates against purchasing pet store hamsters because they may be affected. We also will never use pet store hamsters in breeding stock due to the same risk.

What does it mean for my hamster?

The care of a hydrocephalic hamster usually involves teeth maintenance. The teeth are usually brittle or very small. Either they are removed surgically, or just break off safely on their own. It is always best to see a veterinarian to assess the health of the teeth and surrounding tissue.  The hamster can survive with no teeth on a soft food diet. Many owners soak lab blocks in water so that the food is a “mush” consistency. Owners also add baby food for variety.

For more in depth information, check out this helpful Petcha article!

You are always welcome to contact the girls here at Cheeks and Squeaks with any questions you might have!

Wendell, shown here, is owned by Tony.  He is thriving and living a great life.