Certain colours of hamsters are prone to genetic deformities and some illness are genetically linked and can be passed to offspring. There are myths that inbreeding results in genetically deformed offspring but this is not true. It is only the inbreeding of hamsters that carry genes for a genetic deformity that will produce genetically deformed offspring and not all inbreeding will result in genetic defects. Indeed, inbreeding of good quality, healthy hamsters will pass these qualities onto their offspring.
Dark Grey Syrian Hamsters and colours derived from the Dark Grey (Lilac, Smoke Pearl, Lilac Pearl, Black Eyed Ivory, Red Eyed Ivory, Blue Mink) are prone to spinal deformities. A hamster suffering from a genetic spinal deformity may have a kinked tail or the spine may be crooked or curled. Any hamster showing this type of spinal deformity should not be bred from as the deformity will be passed to the offspring.
The Anophthalmic White gene produces the Roan or White Bellied Syrian. (The white belly on the Dominant Spot or Banded Syrian is not due to the White Bellied gene). This Anophthalmic White gene when present in both parents can produce Eyeless White babies. These are white hamsters with very small or non-existent black eyes. The hamster is largely unaffected as it relies mainly on smell and sound but obviously it is something that should be avoided.
Hind Leg Paralysis is a genetic deformity affecting male Syrian Hamsters. The paralysis usually occurs in males between 6 and 10 months of age and the deformity can be passed to male offspring. Therefore affected males should not be bred from and as no cure is available it may be kinder to euthanaise any affected male.
The Ruby Eyed Mottled Dwarf Campbells Russian can produce deformed offspring when mated with another Ruby Eyed Mottled. The offspring are born with a cleft palette, no teeth and often have no eyes. Due to the lack of teeth the offspring do not usually survive weaning.
Missing limbs at birth are also a genetic deformity. Although a hamster with a missing limb will often survive, adapt and live a long life it should not be bred from as the deformity can be passed to offspring. Also the mother and/or father which passed the deformity should not be bred from again.
Some illnesses such as diabetes and kidney failure can be passed to offspring and so any hamster suffering from these illnesses should not be bred from. Susceptibility to Wet Tail is also thought to be genetically inherited and so it is best not to breed from any hamster that has suffered from Wet Tail during its life.