A HAMSTER which died after losing its fur due to stress has prompted an animal charity to make a plea to pet owners.

Blue Cross, is advising owners on appropriate care after a Russian hamster was brought into the charity in a distressed state.

The pet charity, which has centres on Burford and Lewknor, has warned failure to provide correct living conditions for small animals could have devastating effects for their welfare.

Staff launched the guidance following the case of a hamster, named The Lorax by staff, who was brought into the charity’s rehoming centre in Burford with very little fur and dry, cracked skin.

The condition is thought to have been stress induced, created by the small cage used to house the pint-sized pet.

The Lorax sadly passed away from his injuries. However, Blue Cross is eager to use his story to raise awareness for the health of small animals, preventing a repeat of this tragedy.

Simon Yeats, Animal Welfare Assistant at Burford, who looked after The Lorax, identifies stress as a common problem with small animals coming into the pet charity.

He said: “We regularly see small pets like hamsters who have unknowingly been kept in too small a cage.”

The Lorax had been kept in a cage which was far too small, resulting in brawls between him and his brothers. “Owners just haven’t been well informed when they first get their small pets,” Mr Yeats added.

The advice attention on appropriate cage size, and away from decorative additions to enclosures. “A lot of the cheap cages on the market are far too small and aren’t fit for purpose,” said the charity.

Many owners provide their pets with exercise equipment, toys, and chews; however, this could actually be damaging to rodents' health.

Different species require different care, it is not ‘one size fits all’. Syrian and Dwarf hamsters demand diverse living conditions.

While the Syrian hamster prefers solitary lodging, the latter enjoys company, and can be kept in pairs. “We would always recommend that potential owners do their research on the species they are interested in first”, advise Blue Cross.

Blue Cross was set up more than 120 years ago, providing shelter and care for thousands of pets. Last year the charity took in 378 small animals, including 47 hamsters.