Wet tail is a catchall term for intestinal distress in hamsters. The most frequent cause of wet tail is a bacterial infection inflaming the intestines, a condition called proliferative ileitis. Symptoms include diarrhoea, matting and staining near the anus, lethargy and anorexia. Proliferative ileitis occurs when a hamster eats food or drinks water that faeces have soiled, or when the hamster ingests faeces during grooming. Wet tail can also be brought on by stress or transmitted from another hamster. Treat wet tail immediately to restore health to your little pet.
Bring the hamster to a rodent-savvy veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms. Do not wait. Hamsters frequently die of wet tail. According to Hamsterific.com, an infected hamster may die as soon as 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. The vet will determine the bacteria infecting the animal. The most common are L. intracellularis, E. coli, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and chlamydia.
Administer antibiotics and anti-diarrhoea medication, following the veterinarian's instructions for dosage and frequency. Some hamster-safe antibiotics are enrofloxacin, neomycin and metronidazole.
Give the hamster a few drops of unflavored paediatric oral electrolyte solution from a syringe every few hours. Karen Rosenthal, DVM, suggests that this will keep the hamster from getting dehydrated.
Clean your hamster's bottom gently using a warm, wet washcloth. Otherwise, the hamster may re-infect itself trying to groom its bottom clean.
Clean your hamster's cage thoroughly. Replace all bedding, food and water with new bedding, clean food and clean water.
Cleaning your hamster's cage regularly and removing soiled food will help prevent wet tail.
Do not offer your hamster lettuce or fruit during recovery, as this may exacerbate diarrhoea. Wet tail is contagious. If you have other hamsters in your house, wash your hands thoroughly after handling, and disinfect any shared bowls, toys or play areas.