Wet Tail And 8 Other Common Health Problems In Hamsters

Wild hamsters are pretty hardy when it comes to survival, but a caged habitat can cause ‘Wet tail’ and some other health problems in pet hamsters.

Here are the 9 common health problems in hamsters:

1. Wet tail

Wet tail is quite common, especially in young hamsters, but the exact cause is still unknown. It can be very fatal, so take your hamster to a vet as soon as you notice symptoms.

Symptoms of wet tail include;

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ruffled fur
  • Lethargy

Remember, diarrhea alone does not mean that your hamster has a wet tail. If its appetite and energy levels remain the same, the diarrhea is likely just a dietary issue and not a case of the wet tail in hamsters.

2. Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections can happen a lot in hamsters.

Symptoms include;

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny eyes/nose
  • Loss of appetite.

If your hamster sneezes occasionally this is not a problem, you should only take them to the vet if you also notice some of the other symptoms.

3. Abscesses

Small cuts and scrapes can become infected and fill with pus, which can lead to abscesses. This is especially common on the cheeks, where harsh foods can cause small tears in the lining of the cheeks.

If you notice that your hamsters seem to constantly have food on their cheeks, take them to a vet to check for possible abscesses.

4. Diabetes

The Campbell’s dwarf hamster has by far the highest risk of diabetes, but it can occur in all species. If it does occur, it usually presents when the hamster is between 7 and 9 months old.

Diabetes in hamsters can be caused by; diet, stress, or a dirty cage.

To check for diabetes, look for signs of excessive drinking and urination. Also, check for trembling, shaking, and lower body temperature; See a vet as soon as you notice these signs.

If left untreated, your hamster could go into a coma. While there is no treatment for hamster diabetes, you can switch to a sugar-free diet, which means there are no more store-bought treats as they often contain corn syrup or molasses.

5. Skin infections

Hamsters are prone to many skin problems including ringworm, mites, infected cuts/scrapes, and allergic reactions. All of these must be treated by a veterinarian.

The most obvious sign of a skin infection is excessive scratching. If you see your hamster scratching a lot, take him to the vet before the infection gets out of control.

6. Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be a common problem in hamsters. It usually means that the hamster has trouble digesting certain foods. If you feed them lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, wait a few days and go on a seed diet.

If the problem goes away after that, continue to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables or, at the very least, only feed them to your hamster once every few days.

7. Hibernation

If the room temperature drops below normal, the hamster will begin to hibernate. This means that it will lie very still and breathe very slowly.

Hibernation in hamstersMany owners mistakenly believe that the hamster is dead or dying. Always check if the temperature is lower than normal before assuming your hamster is dead. Re-adjusting the temperature will be enough to wake your hamster from hibernation.

8. Antibiotics

Many antibiotics are fatal to hamsters. Make sure the vet you visit specializes in hamsters and therefore treats them regularly.

Inexperienced vets can accidentally prescribe fatal antibiotics to hamsters.

9. Allergy to cedar or pine

Hamsters cannot tolerate this type of wood, which is surprisingly quite commonly used in store-bought cage beds. It can cause skin problems and breathing problems.