Enterocolitis in Hamsters

Key Points

  • Enterocolitis is the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in hamsters.
  • “Wet-tail” is a non-specific clinical sign that can result from enterocolitis and resultant diarrhea in pet hamsters.
  • The etiology of enterocolitis may be multifactorial in hamsters of all ages including bacteria such as Clostridium spp. and Campylobacter jejuni and parasites, particularly Hymenolepis nana, and even fungal agents.
  • Many of the potential pathogens of “wet-tail” are zoonotic.
  • Clinical outbreaks of diarrhea in hamsters may be precipitated by stress, including high temperatures or humidity, overcrowding, malnutrition, dietary changes, shipping, or underlying diseases, such as endoparasitism.
  • Prevention and treatment of “wet’-tail”, which centers around the use of antimicrobials, husbandry practices, selective breeding, and culling, have generally proved unrewarding.

Diarrhea is the most common problem in pet hamsters. In a recent survey of two large American commercial breeding facilities, approximately 3% of shipped hamsters develop diarrhea. Diarrhea caused by enterocolitis can occur in hamsters of any age or breed and is commonly known as “wet-tail”. Clinical signs in weanlings usually include diarrhea, anorexia, ruffled hair, dehydration, weight loss, and death. The mortality rate is often highest in . . .


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References

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Barron HW, Richey L, Hernandez-Divers S, Ritchie B. Etiology, pathology, and control of enterocolitis in a group of hamsters. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Exotic Mammal Vet 2007. Pp. 123-126.

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Dillehay DL, Paul KS, Boosinger TR, Fox JG. Enterocecocolitis associated withEscherichia coli and Campylobacter-like organisms in a hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) colony. Lab Anim Sc 44(1):12-15, 1994.

Donnelly TM. Disease problems of small rodents. In: Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 2nd ed. 2003.

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Lesher RJ, Jeszenka EV, Swan ME. Enteritis caused by Pasteurella pneumotropica infection in hamsters. J Clin Microbiol 23(3):448, 1985.

Motzel SL, Gibson SV. Tyzzer’s disease in hamsters and gerbils from a pet store supplier. J Am Vet Med Assoc 197:1776-1778, 1990.

Patterson MM, Schrenzel MD, Feng Y, Fox JG. Gastritis and intestinal metaplasia in Syrian hamsters infected with Helicobacter aurati and two other microaerobes. Vet Pathol 37(6):589-596, 2000.

Percy DH, Barthold SW. Hamster. In: Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits, 2nd ed. Ames, Iowa. Iowa State University Press; 2001.

To cite this page:

Barron H. Enterocolitis in hamsters. February 25, 2010. LafeberVet Web site. Available at https://lafeber.com/vet/enterocolitis-in-hamsters/