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Hamster, Rabbit and Iguana Allergy

Could I be allergic to my pet hamster, rabbit or iguana?

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Updated October 01, 2010

Updated October 01, 2010

Allergies to Less Common Animals, Such as Hamsters, Rabbits and Iguanas

Most people with pet allergies have symptoms when exposed to dogs and cats. However, other types of household pets are becoming more common in recent years, including other furred animals and reptiles. While not as common as dog allergy and cat allergy, people are starting to report allergic symptoms after being exposed to these exotic pets.

Ferrets

The domestic ferret, Mustela putorius furo, is the third most common furred pet in the United States. Owners of ferrets have experienced symptoms of allergic rhinitis, asthma and urticaria after coming into contact with their pets. It is possible that some people with cat allergy may be prone to developing an allergy to ferrets, and vice versa.

Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of ferret allergy.

Rabbits

Positive allergy tests to rabbit dander are not uncommon, and many rabbit owners report worsening allergy and asthma symptoms when exposed to their pets. Like other household pets, the allergens are present in the rabbit hair, dander and urine.

Hamsters/Gerbils

Allergy to pet hamsters and gerbils is fairly common, usually as a result of exposure to the animals’ hair/dander causing allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms. In addition, there are several reports of anaphylaxis occurring after hamster bites, suggesting that hamster saliva also contains significant hamster allergen.

Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders are small marsupials that are becoming popular pets in North America, Europe and Japan. Allergy to sugar gliders has been reported in some people who own these pets. Symptoms include worsening allergic rhinitis, asthma and urticaria. The allergen has been found in the animals’ urine and feces, although is also likely to be present in the hair/dander.

Iguana

Since reptiles do not have fur, many people would assume that they wouldn’t cause allergies. However, there have been reports of people being allergic to their pet iguanas. The scale and skin shed from the reptiles contains enough animal allergen to cause allergy symptoms in certain people. The iguana allergen is also present in the saliva and urine, so people have experience reactions if the animal bites them or urinates on them.

Learn how to deal with a pet allergy without having to get rid of your pet.

Sources:

Phillips JF, Lockey RF. Exotic Pet Allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123:513-5.

Rathkopf M, et al. Sugar Glider Allergy: Identification of Serum Specific IgE. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;114:693-5.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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