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Wet Tail in Hamsters: Identifying, Treating, and Prevention

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A Comprehensive Guide to Safeguarding Your Furry Companion’s Health

Wet Tail in Hamsters Identifying, Treating, and Preventing this Menace
This illness is serious in hamsters and in most cases fatal

Wet tail, also known as proliferative ileitis or regional enteritis, is a prevalent and serious condition in hamsters. This guide aims to equip hamster owners with the knowledge to identify, treat, and prevent this deadly illness, ensuring the well-being of their beloved pets.

What Is Wet Tail in Hamsters?

Wet tail refers to diarrhea or loose stools in hamsters caused by an overgrowth of intestinal bacteria, often associated with Lawsonia intracellularis. Recognizing this condition early is crucial, as this type of ilness can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of Wet Tail in Hamsters

Identification of this illness involves observing specific signs in your hamster’s behavior and appearance:

  • Wet tail and matted fur around the tail area
  • Foul odor
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Unkempt appearance due to reduced grooming
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Hunched posture
  • Folded ears, sunken eyes
  • Dehydration
  • Aggressive behavior

Immediate veterinary attention is essential when these symptoms arise.

Causes of Wet Tail

Wet tail is primarily triggered by an overgrowth of bacteria in the hamster’s as we mentioned before but there are other issues that can cause this like, stress, unsanitary conditions, and exposure to sick hamsters can all contribute to the development of this deadly issue.

Stress, especially during weaning, is a significant factor. Changes in environment and diet can lead to bacterial overpopulation in the gut.

Unsanitary Conditions:
Hamsters in dirty environments are more susceptible. The combination of stress and exposure to germs increases the risk.

Exposure to Another Sick Hamster:
Wet tail is highly contagious. Hamsters housed with infected companions or in overcrowded conditions are at risk.

Diagnosing Wet Tail

An veterinarian can accurately diagnose wet tail by examining your hamster and considering its medical history. Differentiating between this deadly illness and other causes of diarrhea is crucial for appropriate treatment.

Please do not try to self diagnose this illness as it’s something that needs to be treated pretty quickly.

Treatment of Wet Tail

Immediate veterinary intervention is vital for hamsters with wet tail. Treatment may involve:

Prescription antibiotics safe for hamsters are administered to combat bacterial overgrowth.

Subcutaneous fluids may be given to address dehydration.

Syringe Feeding:
Special hamster food or vegetable baby food may be recommended if your hamster is not eating.

Drops are available without a prescription, can be administered at home under veterinary guidance, but their effectiveness is not as potent as prescription antibiotics.

Prognosis for This Fatal Illness

Wet tail is often fatal, especially in very young or old hamsters. Early detection and treatment significantly improve the chances of survival. If you suspect your hamster has this illness, seek veterinary assistance promptly.

It’s one of those things that all hamster owners dread. So please ensure your hamster cage is clean and tidy and you don’t have any stressful factors that are being put on your little friend.

Preventing Wet Tail

While this fatal illness cannot always be prevented, proactive measures can reduce the risk:

Choosing a Healthy Hamster:
When selecting a hamster, ensure it is active, with open eyes and a dry, clean rear end. Avoid hamsters living with visibly unhealthy companions.

Preventative Drops:
Some veterinarians recommend administering these drops preventatively by mixing them into the water bottle.

Regular Cage Maintenance:
Clean the hamster’s cage and toys regularly to maintain a sanitary environment.

Separation of Hamsters:
If one hamster develops this health illness, separate them immediately and practice proper hygiene when handling multiple hamsters.

Wellness Examination:
Bring new hamsters to an exotics vet for a wellness examination within the first month of bringing them home. This allows early detection of potential health concerns.

A Comprehensive Guide to Safeguarding Your Furry Companion's Health

Understanding, preventing, and promptly addressing wet tail is crucial for hamster owners. By staying vigilant, maintaining a clean environment, and seeking immediate veterinary care, you can enhance the well-being of your furry friend and potentially save their life.


Here at Can My Hamster we help people learn all about their fury little friends. What foods they can eat, what things they can do and how to look after them. Please note though, we are not trained Vets we have just looked after Hamsters for many years. So if your hamster is showing any health concerns ensure you get them to a vet as soon as you can.

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