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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