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All About Your Hamster’s Cheek Pouches

Ever wondered what your hamster is doing with his cheeks all puffed out, running around the cage like a madman? He’s using his cheek pouches! Learn more about these fascinating hamster features here from a London vet.

What Exactly Are Cheek Pouches?

A cheek pouch is just what it sounds like—a pouch on the inside of your hamster’s cheeks. The skin there is stretchy, and can stretch far back in the mouth (sometimes all the way to the shoulder area) forming a pocket. Search online for cheek-pouch anatomy diagrams, and ask your veterinarian for more information.

What Does My Hamster Use His Pouches For?

The primary use of cheek pouches is to transport food. Wild hamsters will fill a cheek pouch with food and carry it back to the burrow. This allows more food to be transported at once, eliminating the need for multiple trips—very efficient! Domesticated hamsters still have the pouches, and use them regularly. Often, they’ll carry food around to different parts of their cage, hiding it for later in small stashes.

Hamsters even have the ability to eat while their pouches are full. Sometimes, a hamster will fill both cheek pouches, and sometimes he’ll only use one at a time.

Can Cheek Pouches Cause Health Problems?

Unfortunately, yes. Cheek pouches are prone to various diseases and health concerns that could cause your hamster pain or discomfort. One of the more common ones is an abscess—an infection, usually caused by a sharp object poking the cheek, that causes pus to build up at the site of the wound. If left untreated, the infection will enter your hamster’s bloodstream, causing more complications.

Call your London vet if you notice any unusual behavior from your hamster, such as lack of appetite or obvious signs of pain. Abscesses need to be cleaned by a veterinarian, and antibiotics must be administered to combat infection.

Your veterinarian can tell you about more potential health concerns to be aware of regarding the cheek pouches. Call today to learn more about these intriguing features!

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