Q: I am worried about Honey, my fancy bear hamster. When I first got Honey 10 months ago, she was a baby. I held her close to my face a lot, and she never smelled bad. Now when I hold her close to my face, her tail end and rump smell bad. What should I do?
A: It is possible, and actually very likely, that your hamster is fine and no health problem is causing the smell that is distressing to you. It can be normal, due to glands in the skin, for hamsters or other mammals to emit a smell that is not really detectable until you have the pet very close to your nose. This may be the case for your hamster.
If the odor you smell were associated with disease, then I would suspect your hamster would be acting sick. A sick hamster might show signs of illness by not eating, being lethargic or having abnormal fur.
The hamster illnesses that could cause a smell around the tail and rump area include diarrhea, mucus in the stool, urinary tract infections, skin infections and irritation around the tail and rump, and skin masses that release fluid onto the skin. In any of these cases, your hamster would show signs of illness. As long as your hamster is not showing any signs of weight loss, inactivity or a general sick appearance, what you smell is likely a normal odor from a healthy, female hamster.