Thank you for your question.
Wet tail is a gastrointestinal disease of the hamster that is characterized by profuse diarrhea due to malabsorption within the compromised gut. (True wet tail is attributed to a bacteria called Lawsonia intracellularis which causes a thickened gut that can be appreciate on autopsy. That said, a lot of people tend to call any diarrhea bug of the hamster 'wet tail'). It can commonly be fatal due to delay in treatment and the severe dehydration that accompanies the diarrhea.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX we see with this condition, we can of course see a wet/soiled backside and watery diarrhea but also depression, lethargy, poor appetite,dehydration (which causes skin tenting, sunken eyes,etc), and hunching (due to GI discomfort). Occasionally, with heavy straining to pass feces, we may see blood in the diarrhea or the hamster can prolapse his rectum.
Now you didn't mention if Beans has diarrhea but if he has then this is not something you want to leave to linger. Hamsters do not have the body reserves that larger animals have and diarrhea can very quickly lead to dehydration and be fatal. Furthermore, we can see poorly hamsters go off their food and this can be an additional complication that you will need to address.
Just in case Beans is suffering here, I will just give you a wee bit of information on the supportive care you may need to start now for him until you can get him checked by his vet and potentially on treatment. (Otherwise, it will be good information for you to have on hand as a plan if he is ever poorly).
Now if he isn't keen to eat his food, then it would be worthwhile to try and tempt him to eat. Try hand feeding him his favorite foods but if he isn’t willing to eat, you may have to start syringe feeding. It is worth speaking to the vet about diets to syringe feed to your hamster. I tend to use Oxbow’s Critical Care feed for anorexic pocket pets. (HERE) or Supreme Recovery diet (LINK) . These are highly nutritious herbivore feeds that can be easily made into a slurry for syringe feeding. And it is much easier to use then trying to create a balanced critical care diet at home. While you are looking into procuring one, you can use veggie baby food in the meantime.
If he isn’t drinking and you are concerned that he might be becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage him to drink by offering fresh water, as you have. But I would consider seeing if he would take some pedialyte (low sugar fruit flavors work best) or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into his system if he hasn’t been eating. You can also give pedialyte via dropper of syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). This is just an average but will give you an idea of how much fluid he should be taking in over the course of a 24 hour period (you can add an equivalent amount for what he is losing in diarrhea on top of this).
Furthermore, we do want to make sure he isn’t getting chilly. By keeping them comfortably warm. you can make a safe warmer for your little one from a clean sock filled 2/3rd full with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Make sure to shake it before adding it to the cage, to allow the heat to distribute. Make sure its not too hot (as we don’t want to burn him. If it cools, you can re-warm as required). Alternatively, a heating pad under half the cage (so he can move away if he gets too warm) or a heat lamp can be used. Whichever you technique, you use monitor the temperature closely, since we don’t want to overheat him.
Overall, wet tail is a nasty diarrhea bacterial infection of the hamster that can lead to quick dehydration and without treatment, death. Therefore, if Beans does show these signs then you want to initiate the supportive care I have outlined above and follow up with his vet. They will be able to confirm your concern, provide fluids if he is dehydrated already, and treatment (antibiotics, hamster safe anti-diarrheal medication) to help him clear this infection and avoid its life threatening complications.
And just to note if you do want to have him seen tonight, I wanted to mention that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients. This means that if you ring the practice, they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their emergency service. And if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check RCVS register (LINK). or you can check here to find your local Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
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