Wet tail is one of the most common and serious illnesses that a domesticated hamster can face. Fatality for the disease is high and a hamster that contracts it could die as quickly as 24-72 hours after falling ill. It is a form of diahhrhea caused by build up in the stomache of the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni. This constant diahrhea leads t the most obvious symptom of the disease, a wet tail.
Just because a hamster has a wet tail does not neccessarily mean that they have the actual disease wet tail. It could just mean that they have diarhea which could be caused by too many high water content foods, such as fruit and vegetables.
What causes hamsters to get wet tail?
While there a multiple contributing factors to the disease, the primary determinant is usually stress. A hamster that gets handled too much or too roughly, as well as a very dirty cage can be the causes of this stress. Other causes can be from threats from a predetor species such as the common house cat or dog. The disease most often manifests in very young hamsters below the age of 8 weeks and newly weaned. Being moved from place to place such as what happens often to pet store hamsters can often precipate them falling ill
For this reason any hamster newly bought from a pet store could very easily be ill, and you should watch out for the signs of illness.
All the contributing factors are listed in the following:
- Too much or ungentle handling.
- Changes in the environment.
- Stressful dietary changes (a good reason to introduce new foods slowly)
- A dirty cage
- Being away from a mother or siblings.
- Death of a mate.
- Improper caging.
Symptoms of wet tail in your hamster.
Wet tail is a very serious disease for a hamster, so looking out for many of the key symptoms could be the difference between life or death for your little one. If its caught early enough there is a far greater chance of survival.
Look out for a wet tail, especially one covered in small feces. The disease originates in the stomache, so if you find your hamster hunching alot this could be a sign that their experience abdominal discomfort another key significator of the disease.
Some other symptoms to look out for are:
- Lethergy and sunken eyes
- weak or non-existent appetite
- A very foul odor
- Excessive sleeping, their ears are folded back, and their showing unusually agression demonstrated through nips and bites of you or their cage mates.
How to treat wet tail?
If you think that your hamster has wet tail, the first and most important thing you can do for them is to take them to a vet immediately. If possible a vet who specializes in exotic pets, you should follow whatever treatment the vet recommends but they will probably prescribe the animal antibiotics and perhaps some kind of saline drip to avoid severe dehydration.
Wet tail will be very contagious for other hamsters. So a sick hamster will need to be kept as far as possible from any other hamsters you may have. The cage should be thoroughly sterilized and any times you handle your pet or their cage, carefully was your hands afterwards.
Cease feeding them any high water content foods such as fruits and vegetables. Give them a dry pellet diet, which can help to solidy their feces and slow or prevent the worst of the diarhea.
If you feel confident that doing so will not provide further undue stress to your pet, take a q-tip swap and use it to gently dab at their rear end to try to clean up any feces. Do not however give them a bath or soak them with water.
Do these steps and follow the instructions of a vet, while keeping your hamsters stress as low as possible. Doing these steps and doing them as early as possibe will give your pet the highest chance of survival from this awful disease. Sadly even with proper medical care survival isnt gaureenteed but at least you will know that you did the very best that you could for your beloved pet hamster.