Wet Tail is often caused by stress. It’s very important to isolate any new hamster for 7 days when first bringing him home. Going from momma’s cage, to a cage with brothers or sisters, then to another cage at the pet store, and finally to a home all of their own, can be very stressful on the little guys/gals.
Symptoms include severe watery diarrhea and lethargy. It can take up to 7 days for the symptoms to appear. Death can occur within 24 hours of the onset of the symptoms. A proper vet diagnosis is a must.
Frequent culprits of wet tail are Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter species (the most common), Cryptosporidium species, and Chlamydia species. These are normal bacteria that are found in your hamster’s intestines.
Common treatments for wet tail are Baytril (enrofloxacin) or Neomycin (never more than 10mg/ kg because of sensitivity) with metronidazole (Flagyl, 0.1% in drinking water) and Kaopectate (1-2 ml PO). Also keep a 50/50 solution of Pedialyte and water available for your hamster. Use of an over the counter medicine, such as Dri-Tail, only masks the symptoms. It will not cure your hamster. These antibiotics are too weak to kill the bacteria.
Make sure you wash your hands with an anti-bacterial soap after handling your hamster or cage/toys (healthy or not). Humans exposed are at risk for Campylobacteriosis, which causes diarrhea (frequently bloody), abdominal pain, cramps, fever, and vomiting.
Never breed a hamster who has had wet tail. The susceptibility can be inherited. Some hamsters can handle stress better than others.
Dwarf Hamsters can suffer from severe diarrhea, but it is not wet tail.