Your adorable little pet is looking listless, sad, grumpy, and has a diarrhea. If that is the case, then maybe you have a case of hamster wet tail to contend with.
This is a highly contagious bacterial disease associated with stress. This illness usually afflicts Syrian hamsters and does not affect dwarf hamsters though dwarfs can suffer from diarrhea.
Hamster wet tail is scientifically known as Proliferative Ileitis and is common in hamsters that have just changed homes. So when you get your new hamster it may already be ill even though the symptoms.
Causes of Hamster wet tail
Stress is the number one cause for Hamster wet tail and this is usually due to a quick change in environment. These include:
- Moving your hamster to a new cage
- Transferring your new hamster from the pet store to your home
- Taking the hamster away from its mother and siblings
- Changing the hamster’s diet
- Handling your hamster too much
- Inadequately cleaning the cage
- Wet beddings
The hamsters most prone to Hamster wet tail are young pups and long haired pups.
Role of Bacteria in Hamster wet tail
Bacteria in the hamster’s body is always present but usually harmless.
However, once the hamster gets stressed then its immunity is lowered and the bacteria cause it to get ill. Some of the bacteria found in hamsters and related to Hamster wet tail are:
- E. Coli
Symptoms of Hamster wet tail
It takes time between the onset of illness and the first signs of Hamster wet tail, typically around 7 days. Some of the symptoms you need to watch out for include:
- Lethargy and lack of activity
- Foul smell
- Wet and dirty tail
- Foul smell
- Watery diarrhea
- Lack of grooming
- Constant sleeping
- Lack of appetite
- Hunched posture
Prevention of Hamster wet tail
The main cause of Hamster wet tail is stress and as such, the best preventive measure you can make is to ensure your pet is comfortable and feels very much at home.
Your first step should be to make sure the hamsters’ home is clean, warm, and well-prepared even before the hamster gets home from the pet store.
Once you get him home, isolate him for the first few days up to a fortnight while closely monitoring him to make sure he is okay.
Give your hamster time before you try handling him. Keep the hamster away from all other pets in the house and from toddlers as they may scare him or make him unduly nervous.
If you purchase your hamster and find he already has those symptoms, it is advisable to return him and get a refund.
Do not take a replacement since stores usually put their hamsters together in one cage and the disease is contagious so the others are likely to have contracted it too.
However, if the symptoms develop when he is already at your home, then take him to the vet and get him help and medication. [Also read - Dwarf Hamster Care]
Treatment of Hamster wet tail
Once you notice the symptoms of Hamster wet tail on your pet, your very first stop should be at the vet’s office for professional diagnosis and help. You can also purchase over the counter medication such as Dri-Tail Drops from an online pet pharmacy.
However, it is not advisable to use over the counter medication for first time sick hamsters, the right and responsible thing to do is take him to a vet.
Once your pet has been diagnosed with Hamster wet tail, soak his cage and all the accessories in a bathtub that’s mixed with bleach and antiseptic.
After soaking for about 30 minutes, wash it and let it dry in a cool dry place. Once it is completely dry, wash it again with regular dish washing liquids and rinse it thoroughly then let everything dry in a cool dry place once more.
Change all the substrate and bedding within the cage. Make sure you repeat this process every 2 or 3 days during the hamster’s recovery period.
Keep your hamster well hydrated by keeping a bottle of fresh water in the cage. Regularly change the water, like 2 times each day.
You can purchase some pedialyte from an online pet pharmacy and mix it with the water. Always wash your hand thoroughly before and immediately after handling your sick hamster as the sickness may spread to other pets.
When washing your hands use a mild soap with no scent.
Once you bring your hamster home from the vet, be responsible and give him his medcines as prescribed by the vet.
Do not skip doses and assign a responsible person to handle that during those times when you will be away from the house.
Give the full dose and even extend giving the medication until the medicine bottle is completely empty.