Your Hamster's Scent Glands: What You Need to Know

Pet Golden or Syrian Hamster

Scent glands, flank glands or hip spots … whatever you call them, these little glands seem to confound hamster enthusiasts and even many veterinarians.

Hamster scent glands differ depending on the gender of the animal and also the species.

The scent glands of Syrian hamsters (also called golden hamsters and teddy bear hamsters) are bilateral (there are two of them) and located on the hips. They are flat and can appear wet or greasy looking. Some have pigmentation. Some have long hairs growing over them.

On all domestic dwarf hamsters – Campbells, Chinese, Roborovskis, winter whites – there is a single scent gland located on their undersides, a bit below midline. These glands stick out, are sometimes hairless, and often look covered in a greasy secretion.

Research suggests male hamsters use their scent gland secretions to mark their territory. According to Dr. Melissa Kling, a DVM who has treated exotic pets for 20 years:

"The scent glands are more prominent in males than females.  When the male is excited, it will lick its scent glands until the entire area is wet. It will also scratch and rub itself as if the area is irritated."