I have seen some confusion on HFF as to what is Wet Tail and what isn’t, and people are right to be cautious as it is not a very pleasant disease as I found out with my first hamster Daisy (who is still with us, thankfully!) After reading this you will see why she was lucky.
Wet tail is an infection of the lower intestine, and results on watery diarrhoea and discharge (sorry if you are eating!) It is treated with antibiotics and rehydration treatment.
First off, Daisy was a pet shop hamster. This seems to be relevant in some ways, as although the pet shop I got her from is rather good, the conditions for hamsters aren’t always ideal (bright light during the day, small cages, no wheel…) and compared to hamsters from breeders, I guess it’s no competition really.
I bought her home, rather pleased, and set her in her new cage with food, wheel, bedding and treats, and left her to it for a couple of days. I would talk to her, sing to her, leave the music on, so I thought she was settling in fine. I offered her my hand a couple times but didn’t want to stress her out unduly.
She seemed fine for a few days. Running around on her wheel, coming curiously up to the bars, taking treats from my fingers with no fuss. But on the 5th day of my new hamster ownership, I noticed I hadn’t seen her very much. I wasn’t sure if this was normal for hamsters so I left her until the morning. She eventually did come out for a drink, and I was utterly shocked by the sudden change in her.
She was skinny, sodden underneath from tail to chin, bedraggled and hunched over. She must have been in so much pain. Her ears were back and her eyes half closed, and I immediately dreaded the worst after having read about WT online. The mortality rate was quite high, it affects young hamsters more often than not (due to stress) and it has an incubation period of about a week. It also comes on shockingly quickly! All of these applied so I naturally got her back to the shop where they provided free veterinary services.
She is happy and healthy now, which I am eternally grateful for. I hope hamster owners find this useful!