Hamsters are prone to an infection known as wet-tail. Wet-tail is a very serious illness in hasmters. Find out how to treat the infection and what steps you can take to prevent your hamster from contracting this illness.
You have just brought your new pet hamster home. There are a few things you will need to keep in mind. Hamsters are delicate creatures: they are tiny rodents and have tiny bones. It is important to remember that hamsters can be crushed easily. This is especially important if you let small children handle the hamster. Small children should be supervised at all times with the hamster. A more important threat to the hamster is an infection called wet-tail.
What is wet-tail? Wet-tail is a common infection that small rodents can contract very easily. It is the equivalent of something like dysentery. The animal will get a severe case of diarrhea and become dehydrated. Dehydration is very serious in hamsters because they are so tiny. A day without drinking can be lethal to a hamster. This disease is very contagious, so if you house more than one hamster, and if one hamster has wet-tail, it is very likely that they will all contract it.
What are the symptoms of wet-tail? The first symptom that you may notice is diarrhea. The hamster's fur will also be caked with its own feces. The hamster may not be as active as usual. Keep in mind that hamsters are nocturnal so if you feel they are sleeping a lot during the day, this could be completely normal. The hamster may also have an odor to them. The hamster will not be interested in food and may drink very little water. You can take the animal to a veterinarian, but most people do not take this measure. There is a medication that you can buy at a pet store called Dri-tail. You can put this medication in the water bottle and also you can medicate the animal directly. It is suggested the you do both in animals that appear extremely weak and have had several bouts of diarrhea. You can also hydrate the animal orally with an eyedropper with some water or Pedialyte.
How do hamsters get wet-tail? The most common source of infection is stress. This is why many hamsters that are sold by pet stores commonly have the infection. The reason behind this is that most pet stores have animals shipped to the store. The shipping causes the animals stress, plus the added factor of being in a new environment. Thus the animals will have wet-tail because of it. You may have purchased an animal with wet-tail and not realized it. Also, many pet stores sell young animals which are most prone to this infection.
What can you do to prevent wet-tail? Be cautious when buying a hamster. Young hamsters are very cute, but it is wiser to purchase a somewhat older hamster. A hamster that is between 12-14 weeks of age is fine, though many pet stores sell hamsters that are between the age of 4-6 weeks. Inquire about the animal's age before you buy, Also ask if any animals the hamster is housed with has contracted wet-tail. Any reputable pet store should be able to tell you this without batting an eyelash. Most reputable pet stores will even pre-medicate the animals against wet-tail by putting the medication in the water bottles. It is highly recommended that you purchase the dri-tail medication and put it in your animal's water bottle for the first couple of weeks or so that you have the animal in your house.
Remember that wet-tail is often caused by stress. The hamster will undoubtedly be stressed when it arrives at your house. Do not attempt to handle it very often those first couple of weeks. Respect the hamster's privacy. When you first have the animal home, only handle it once or twice a day. Don't put the animal in a noisy place in the house. Also make sure the animal has fresh food and water daily. You should also change the bedding every few days. This will lower the chances of the animal contracting the infection. It is not wise to house several hamsters together. For one, hamsters are not social animals, and thus they prefer to be alone. Housing them together increases the chances for infection. If you do house the animals together, and one contracts wet-tail, it is important to separate them immediately.
Wet-tail is a very serious infection for hamsters. Dehydration often spells death for a hamster. This is such a common problem that many pet stores offer a two-week guarantee, replacing the animal if it should succumb to wet-tail. With your hamster in mind you should take the necessary steps to avoid your animal contracting the disea.