What Is Wet Tail Disease In Hamsters (Proliferative Ileitis)

Is your hamster looking a little under the weather?

Then you must keep an eye on him and make sure he gets the treatment he needs to feel better again.

But, how can you tell if your hamster has wet tail disease?

Key Takeaway:

Wet tail is a highly lethal disease that makes hamsters have loose stools or watery diarrhea. It is most common in baby hamsters. A veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacteria.

In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about the wet tail disease and its symptoms, prevention, and treatment.

What Is Wet Tail In Hamsters?

Are you worried about your pet hamster?

Is the fur around his tail matted and has he lost his appetite? Then your little guy might be suffering from the wet tail disease (proliferative ileitis).

What is it?

Wet tail is a disease that makes your hamster have loose stools or watery diarrhea. It is thought to be caused by intestinal bacteria and is most common in young hamsters between 3 to 6 weeks old.

hamster wet tail

What Are Some of the Symptoms Of Wet Tail?

The wet tail disease can kill a hamster in just a few days. That is why it is so important you recognize the symptoms early to increase your hamster’s chances of survival.

But how can you spot an infected hamster?

Here are some of the symptoms of wet tail:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Dirty tail covered in wet feces
  • Matted fur around the hamster’s tail and hindquarters (possibly bloody)
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss, or dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Dull eyes
  • Anger
  • Hunched posture

If you see your hamster showing symptoms of wet tail take him straight to a veterinarian. He needs immediate medical attention.

How Does a Hamster Get Wet Tail Disease?

Your hamster may get wet tail for a number of reasons. Knowing what these are will help you to prevent him from getting the illness.

So, here are a few ways many hamsters get the wet tail disease.

Other Hamsters

Wet tail is an extremely contagious disease so your hamster might have caught it from another.

In a pet store, large groups of hamsters live together. Your hamster might pick up wet tail from the other hamsters at the pet store you got him from.

Poor Diet

Your hamster needs to eat a balanced diet including a mix of dry foods like hamster pellets and fresh fruit and vegetables. A poor diet will put him at risk of wet tail disease.

Dirty Living Environment

You need to change your hamster’s bedding and disinfect his cage at least once a week. Substandard living conditions may make him more susceptible to wet tail.

Lack of Clean Drinking Water

Your hamster needs access to clean, fresh drinking water each day. Without it, he might begin to suffer from dehydration.


Hamsters need to live stress-free lives. Here are some of the many things that cause them to feel worried.

  • Diet changes
  • Loud noises
  • Sudden movements
  • Environmental changes
  • Excessive handling
  • The loss of a mate

Separating Young Hamsters

Hamster babies do not like it when you take them away from their mothers too early. Doing so can put them at risk of wet tail.

hamster on table

How to Treat Wet Tail

Is your small animal showing signs of wet tail?

Then take your hamster straight to the vet where he will receive the treatment he needs. There, the veterinarian will give him certain antibiotics to fight the bacteria.

Your hamster will also need to take medication to help stop his diarrhea. As well as antibiotics, the vet may also give him some subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate him.

How to Prevent Wet Tail

Wet tail, otherwise known as regional enteritis, is lethal to hamsters when left untreated. Many factors cause this disease and among them, a number of them are preventable.

So, what can you do to lower your hamster’s risk of contracting this illness?

Take a look at the following tips that will help prevent wet tail.1

Separate Sick Hamsters

Wet tail in hamsters is contagious and spread quickly from one hamster to the next. To prevent this from happening, you need to promptly separate sick hamsters from healthy hamsters.

Key Takeaway:

Separate hamsters showing symptoms of the wet tail from healthy ones until they recover. Completely disinfect the cage and change the bedding before you put the healthy hamsters back in it.

Keep a close eye on your hamsters. If you introduce any new hamsters into the cage, monitor them to ensure they are healthy.

Some hamsters such as Siberian and Syrian hamsters have an adaptive immune system that boosts in the winter to combat the cold weather. Even still, take preventative measures to ensure your hamsters do not get wet tail or any other diseases.

Feed Your Hamster a Balanced Diet

Your hamster needs to eat a balanced diet. Here are some of the things that he must eat.

  • Commercial hamster pellets full of nutrients and vitamins
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables

Some hamsters also enjoy eating Timothy’s hay while other hamsters just like rummaging around in it. Give your hamster the occasional treat of boiled eggs, mealworms, or nuts.

Ensure you wash fruit and vegetables before you give them to your hamster. Make sure you remove the seeds from them.

Clean His Cage Regularly

Your hamster needs to live in a clean environment to limit his chances of contracting a bacterial illness or wet tail.

You must clean his cage at least once a week. You will need to clean it more often if there are two hamsters in the cage.

Here’s how to clean his cage:

  1. Remove everything from the cage and throw the bedding in the garbage
  2. Clean and sanitize his food bowl, water bottle, toys, and exercise equipment

Give Him Clean Water to Drink Daily

Keep your hamster’s water bottle topped up each day with clean, fresh water. It is best your hamster drinks water from a bottle rather than from a bowl.


To prevent him from kicking the bowl over and contaminating his drinking water with soiled bedding.

Limit His Stress

Hamsters are timid pets that worry easily. You need to keep his stress levels to a minimum in order to risk his likelihood of getting wet tail.

So, how can you keep your hamsters’ stress levels down?

Here are a couple of ways.

  1. Keep his food the same. Put the same type of hamster pellets in his bowl every day. He can eat fruit and vegetables, but only in small amounts. He will also enjoy a treat from time to time, but this should not interfere with his normal food schedule.
  2. Keep him away from loud noises. He should not be in a room where there is a TV or one that backs onto a noisy street or other causes of loud noises.
  3. His room should be calm. Seeing lots of people come in and out of a room all day might disturb him. He might also scare when he sees large animals like dogs.
  4. Do not move his cage about. Avoid taking it from room to room unnecessarily.
  5. Handle him with care. Pet hamsters need to be treated gently. Supervise young children when they handle them.
  6. If your pet hamster’s mate should die, consider replacing it.
  7. Do not take babies away from their mothers while they are still weaning. Hamster babies (age 0-3 months) normally wean until they are 4 to 5 weeks old.

Take Him to the Vet Regularly

Wet tail can quickly put your hamster’s life in jeopardy. As soon as you spot symptoms of the wet tail in your hamster, take him straight to the vet so they can provide him with the right treatment.

It is also good practice for you to take your hamster to the vet for regular checkups. That way, the veterinarian can keep an eye on his health and detect any diseases before they get too serious.

What can you do about the high price of vet bills?

Setting up care plans is the best way of making sure your pets get the supportive care they need when they are sick.

hamster with veterinarian

Your Happy and Healthy Hamster

We all want to do everything we can to take care of our pets and make sure they live happy lives and to a good old age. But this is a little tricky with the likes of wet tail and other bacteria knocking about.

Wet tail is a disease that is normally lethal for hamsters. Some of its symptoms are diarrhea, matted, dirty fur around the hindquarters, and loss of appetite.

So, what can you do to keep your hamster safe?

This article has helped us to see that it is possible to lower your hamster’s risk of wet tail disease. Do this by feeding him a good diet, keeping his living quarters clean, and lowering his stress.

It is also important you are aware of the signs of the disease and get your hamster treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible if begins to display any symptoms of wet tail.

At Oddly Cute Pets we love providing you with the best advice to help keep your pets fit and healthy. Make sure you check out our website for more information on hamster care and other small pets.

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