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Sick Hamster - Signs and Treatment of Wet-tail
Hamsters are not the only small animal that can get "wet-tail," but they are the most common small animal to succumb to it. Chinchillas, rabbits, gerbils, rats, and mice, can all get wet-tail, as it is caused by stress. For the most part wet-tail is nothing more than extreme diarrhea. Without treatment, your pet can die within 24-48 hours, all depending on how soon you catch it. Once your hamster has had wet-tail and has been treated, he cannot get the illness again.
What Causes Wet-tail
As I mentioned above, wet-tail is stress related.
- Too much handling
- Change in environment
- Change in diet
- Inadequate cage cleaning
- Being away from mother and/or siblings
- Death of a tank mate
Baby hamsters are more succeptable to wet-tail than juvenile and adult hamsters.
Symptoms of Wet-tail
The symptoms may not appear for a few days or so, but once they set in, you can see various symptoms.
- Wet bottom end
- Smell/ foul odor
- Lack of appetite
- Excess sleeping
- Not grooming itself
- Walking with a hunched back
The most obvious symptom will be the wet bottom, tail area.
Well, luckily there are several products out today that can help cure wet-tail. You can take a trip to most of your local petstores to include Petsmart and Petland to grab a bottle of 'Dri-Tail' or 'Wet-tail Drops.' Or, you can go to a vet that sees hamsters, and he can put the hamster on Baytril or Sulfatrim.
Personally, I have had better luck with 'Dri-Tail' than with the vet prescribed medicines.
For a new hamster, you can prevent wet-tail by (1) having the cage completely set up before bringing home the hamster, (2) set the hamster up in his cage and leave him alone for a MINIMUM of 1-2 days allowing him time to adjust to his new surroundings, and (3) set up the cage in a quiet place with less traffic.
If you already have a hamster that you're worried about, (1) watch how much you handle the hamster, (2) watch the duration he is out of his tank, (3) try not to change his food or surroundings drastically, and (4) do not add any new hamsters in with him.
My Story with Wet-tail
At one time, I had three hamsters (two girls and one boy). Rocky, the boy, was supposed to be a female, but he grew up a boy (ha). He bonded very closely to Pebbles, so I kept him caged with Pebbles, and moved Roxy into another cage, as she was heavily pregnant. Living together for months and having a litter of babies, Rocky and Pebbles became a husband/wife couple. Where one was, the other was not too far behind. It was actually rather cute. Until, my boyfriend was trying to clean the cage one day and, not paying attention, slammed the lid back on. Well, I found poor Rocky with his head caught in-between two tubes where the tube from the lid and the tube from the base met. Pebbles was on the other side of the cage, heavily pregnant at this point, not moving and not eating. Realizing that she had wet-tail as she was upset of the death of her husband, I quickly ran to Petland and bought 'Dri-Tail.' She was almost cured of the illness, when she had her litter. This stressed her body out so much more, and even though she was almost cured of wet-tail, she ate the babies a few days after she had them and died shortly after. She knew her body could not take it with the stress of labor and what was left of wet-tail. (So currently, I just have Roxy left of the original three. She is doing fine as she had not been housed with either Pebbles or Roxy for months prior to the incident.)
At work, daily, I see hamster after hamster getting wettail. Many of the hamsters are on a heavily walked section of the store. With people knocking on the cages, peering in, and just plain walking by constantly, the hamsters stress easily. I have helped to cure many hamsters of wet-tail using the leftovers of my 'Dri-Tail' as well as the vet's prescribed medicines.
Wet-tail is not a pretty illness for hamsters to get, and if not caught early enough not even vet prescribed medicines or commercial brand medicines will heal the hamster. Your best bet with wet-tail is to keep a commercial brand on hand in case, and try to watch the environment of the hamster, to include placement of the cage and how/duration of handling time.
Hamster Illnesses - Sick Hamster
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.