Hamsters make great first time pets, especially for children. But while these small rodents are generally easy to keep, there are several diseases that these creatures are prone to and can die from.
Here are five facts you should know about Wet Tail, a dangerous yet common condition in hamsters.
• IT ISN'T DIARRHOEA
Many owners dismiss Wet Tail as diarrhoea because it is a symptom of the condition.
The disease causes the lower part of the intestine to become inflamed, swollen and extremely painful, resulting in loose stool. It is important to note that diarrhoea can be treated, but Wet Tail (if left for any length of time) can prove fatal to hamsters.
• IT IS EXTREMELY CONTAGIOUS
While Wet Tail disease is rare, it is easily transmitted from one hamster to another.
A hamster suffering from the condition will pass it on to any other hammie it comes into contact with. Symptoms will appear around seven days after contact.
• NO IMMUNITY CONFERRED
Unlike many other conditions, a hamster that recovers from Wet Tail can still get infected by the disease again.
Hamsters don’t build up any sort of immunity against the disease, so don’t rule out the possibility of Wet Tail simply because your hamster has contracted it before!
What Are The Symptoms?
One of the first signs would be your hamster looking unkempt with a messy coat and lethargic appearance. It is also likely to lose its appetite and suffer from foul-smelling diarrhoea, which may contain blood.
As the condition causes stress and pain to your hamster, you might find your furkid in a hunched position as that helps it cope with the discomfort. Sometimes, when the pain gets unbearable, your hamster may even cry out.
What Should You Do?
As soon as you suspect Wet Tail, make arrangements to have your hamster seen by a qualified vet.
Disinfect everything that your hamster has had contact like its cage and accessories. Maintain high hygiene standards. If possible, discard feeding bowls and water containers. If not, wash with an animal-friendly disinfectant.
If there is more than one hamster in the household, separate the furry friends immediately to lower the risk of the others catching the disease.
* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.
*This article was updated on 9 May Apr 2021. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 1 Feb 2016.