What are Impacted Cheek Pouches?
The nature of a hamster is to collect and hoard its food. It’s able to do this because of the two lateral cheek pouches on the sides of its mouths. When it goes about collecting food, it does so by stuffing its cheek pouches with seeds and other bits of food. On occasion these pouches can become impacted to the point where a hamster can’t empty it’s pouch full of food bits.
The Signs and Symptoms
If you notice one of your hamster’s cheek pouches as being full and it’s been like that for some time. it’s likely not a routine food collection and storage behavior. It’s more likely that a cheek pouch has become impacted. With more observation, if the head and neck appear swollen, the hamster is producing excessive saliva or it appears anorexic, it’s most likely a impaction.
Food, bedding or some other foreign material. Often with caged hamsters, an impaction of the cheek is caused by a food item that a hamster probably shouldn’t be eating in the first place like sweets.
Treat an Impaction
The natural method for a hamster to clear it’s pouches is to use its paws to push the food forward and out of the mouth. You can try to massage the impacted cheek to attempt to free the stuck food. If that doesn’t work, you might need to go into the mouth and physically remove the materials or try flushing the cheek with a salt water solution to help break the stuck materials (a local anesthetic might be needed). If all of these treatment methods fail or you don’t feel comfortable trying them yourself, a trip to your hamster vet is needed.
Author: Tim Winter