What is Wet Tail?

If you’ve ever googled hamster health, you may have stumbled upon the phrase Wet Tail. Wet Tail is a near fatal disease specific to hamsters. Its scientific name is proliferative ileitis. This death sentence is a truly scary sickness. By the time you realize your hamster has it, you are likely too late. In this article, we are going to go over Wet Tail causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.


Wet Tail Causes

Wet Tail happens when a hamster experiences overgrowth of a specific gut bacteria. The cause of this overgrowth is always stress. When a hamster is feeling overly stressed, the strain on its body results in its gut overproducing the bacteria lawsonia intracellularis.  Hamsters are most prone to Wet Tail in infancy. There are many things that can serve as a stress factor to young hamsters, including but not limited to: changes in environment, changes in diet, foul living conditions, being taken from the mother prematurely, too much handling, and small living enclosures.


Wet Tail Symptoms

The name Wet Tail is quite literal. If your hamster has this illness the first thing you will notice is a diarrhea derived wetness directly underneath your hamster’s tail. This is the primary signifier of a hamster with Wet Tail. However, there are other symptoms, such as: lack of energy, lack of appetite, folded ears, disheveled movement, and excessive sleep. Wet Tail is extremely contagious, it can quickly spread through a hole enclosure of young hamsters. If you notice a hamster with Wet Tail, it is best to move it to a separate enclosure as soon as possible.


Wet Tail Treatment

As Wet Tail is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. If you think your hamster has Wet Tail, you should take them to the exotic vet immediately. A veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose Wet Tail and prescribe the best antibiotic for your small pet. Alternatively, if no exotic vet is available in your area, you may try Wet Tail drops at home. Wet Tail drops are an over the counter, liquid antibiotic specifically for hamsters. You can either add these drops to their water or administer directly.


Wet Tail Prevention

If not treated immediately, Wet Tail can prove fatal to your hamster within 48 to 72 hours. Even if caught immediately, Wet Tail is still a dangerous fatal disease for your small pet. Thus, the best treatment is prevention. To practice prevention, you may wish to do the following: disinfect your hamster’s cage weekly, limit handling, and keep your hamster in a separate cage by itself. With that in mind, do not mistake a one-off runny stool for Wet Tail. A hamster can experience diarrhea if it eats something high in water content, like cucumber.



Any hamster is susceptible to Wet Tail: Syrian Hamsters, Chinese Dwarf Hamsters, Winter White Dwarf Hamsters, Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters, and Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters can all get it. But since Wet Tail is contracted from stress, as long as you practice good hamster rearing, your small pet is sure to live a long healthy life.

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