What Does It Mean If a Hamster Has Red Eyes?
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What Does It Mean If a Hamster Has Red Eyes?

Ever seen a hamster with red eyes and wondered why? There are a range of explanations that include genetic reasons and eye irritations and problems. This article leads you through why hamsters have red eyes, so that you can decide if the animal needs to see a vet, or if everything is as it should be.

A hamster can have red eyes for genetic reasons or because of eye irritation, infection or disease. Hamsters can have various eye colours including red, black and brown, where red eyes occur in albino hamsters and certain coat colour combinations. If normally dark eyes become red it could be due to “pink eye” or conjunctivitis, irritation from fighting, scratching, smoke or other causes. 

Albino Hamsters

Albinism occurs in many species, including hamsters. It is due to gene mutations that affect production of pigmentation, resulting in animals with white coats and unpigmented eyes that appear red or pink. When light passes through the iris of the eye you can see the red of the blood in the capillaries inside the eye, which gives the eyes a red appearance. If your hamster is white with red eyes it is most probably an albino hamster. 

Colour Variants

There are different types of hamsters and a wide variety of colours. Most hamster organizations in theUnited Statesand throughout the world recognize the British Hamster Association Exhibition Standards. The National Hamster Council has stock descriptions of each colour and several of them should have red eyes. Colours with red eyes include blonde, cinnamon, lilac, honey, argentes and blue fawns. Some colours such as blue mink and copper have red eyes which tend to darken with age. They are part of the wonderful diversity hamsters exhibit, and breeders are always trying to come up with something new. 

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as “pink eye” as it gives the eye a pink or red appearance. Other symptoms can include discharge from the eye, sticky eyelids, swollen eye and/or redness around the edge of the eyelids. It can be viral or bacterial. It should be treated to prevent further complications and it is best to consult your veterinarian about how to treat the condition. Often regular bathing of the eye with saline solution is all that is required. 

Eye Irritation or Injury

Occasionally a hamster will get scratched in the eye when playing or fighting with another. It can also get a red irritated eye if it gets dust, dirt or other foreign objects in the eye. Sometimes an eye will redden due to exposure to smoke or even a strong draft. If the hamster looks in pain then consult your veterinarian. 

Photo credit: Hamsters can have different eye colours. Kasia Oybalska on Stock.xchng

References

The Hamster Society: Colour and Coat Varieties, White

Simply Hamsters: How to Treat Eye Problems in Hamsters

Midland Hamster Club: Genetics and Inheritance

PetMD: Pink Eye in Hamsters

Resources

Messy Beast: Albino Animals and Birds

How to Take Care of a Hamster: Hamster Eyes

Pet Web Site: Syrian Hamster Colours Derived from Combining Mutations

Lixit: Hamster

National Hamster Council – Exhibition Standards (Syrian)

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