Do you have a pet hamster at your home? As a hamster owner, we all want to keep our little furry friend healthy all the time, right? We will try to provide them with fresh food, pellets, even some additional supplement just to keep them away from getting sick. Besides many types of illnesses in the hamster, have you ever heard about Salmonellosis?
Well, that sounds super serious and scary. What is it?
As you can tell from the name, Salmonellosis is an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Yup, that ‘salmonella’. The one that everyone has been talking about how harmful it is for humans. Turns out, Salmonella is not only contagious to humans but also to other animals, including rodents like a hamster!
Salmonellosis is actually rare in pet hamsters, but when it happens, it can lead to serious complications like miscarriages, diarrhea, and septicemia; all the nightmares that you can imagine. The infection can also harm the owner’s health if it does not handle properly.
The main potential source of transmission to your hamsters is from their ingestion system when they eat food or drink water that contaminated with infected urine or feces of the wild rodents. Hence, Salmonellosis is often associated with contaminated food, water, or bedding. Besides food, weak immune systems due to aging and immature gastrointestinal tract can also develop the risk of the infection.
That’s sounds bad. How can we tell if our hamster infected by Salmonella?
There are some symptoms and signs that commonly seen in hamster with salmonellosis, such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, rough body coat, abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal discharge in the female hamster, until miscarriage. However, the best way to confirm if your hamster infected by Salmonella or only has the usual tummy ache is by bringing your hamster to the experienced vet. If you find your hamster presents some of the symptoms, go to the vet immediately to have some medical check-up. Be careful, though! Keep yourself stay clean and hygiene since Salmonella is also contagious to us!
There are also more than a thousand types of Salmonella bacteria, so let the vet identify the type of bacteria and your hamster’s condition. Even after the recovery, your hamster will need extra treatment and medication. Consult to your vet for the proper diet plan and meds for your hamster and stay cautious whenever you handle the infected hamster.
None of these sounds fun, right? It will always better to prevent the illness before it happens. So here are some tips for you to prevent your hamster from getting infected by these deadly bacteria.
6 ways to Prevent Hamster from Contracting Salmonellosis
1. Store the food in a clean area
As we mentioned earlier, the main potential source of the Salmonella transmission is through the ingestion of contaminated food. The food or water that may put your hamster into the Salmonellosis risk is the one that infected with urine or feces of wild rodents. So store your hamster’s food bowl in a clean area where wild rodents cannot easily access it.
2. Avoid raw meat
Since hamster is omnivores, you may get the idea to feed your hamster with raw meat. Well, don’t. Don’t feed raw meat to your hamster since there is a chance that uncooked meat brings Salmonella with it. The is a long list of healthy food that you can feed to your hamster, anyway.
3. Clean up the cage regularly
It’s also important to keep your hamster’s cage clean and hygiene. Besides food, your hamster can also infect by Salmonella from the contaminated bedding. Hence, it is essential to change your hamster’s bedding material regularly from the urine and poo.
In addition, if you need to wash the cage in your kitchen sink, clean up the kitchen sink too afterward! If you need to, you can use bleach water to disinfect the counter and surrounding area so your dishes will not be contaminated.
4. Prevent the outbreak
If you have more than one hamster in one cage and you suspect one of them being infected by the bacteria, remove it from the cage immediately to avoid an outbreak. What a disaster to have more than one infected hamster, right? Also, try to identify the potential source of the bacteria.
5. Don’t be lazy to wash your hand
This one is not only to save your hamster but also to save you: always wash your hands and completely dry them before and after you handle your hamsters. And when it says ‘wash your hand’, it doesn’t mean splashing your hands with a little water and you are done! Use soap and warm water to kill the bacteria. Then, dry it completely so your hand doesn’t get your hamster wet when you handle it.
6. Consult to your vet
Again, Salmonellosis can be a serious problem. The best way to handle it is to go to the vet immediately if you suspect one of your hamsters shows some signs of the symptoms. Tell the condition of your hamster to the vet so they can diagnose your hamster affectively. Also, identify the source of the Salmonella to avoid a larger outbreak.
Salmonellosis can be life-threatening not only for the hamster but also for the owners. Salmonellosis cases in the hamster might be small. However, in 2005 there are 2 cases of Salmonella in children that were traced to rodents: one of them is a pet hamster. So, it will always better to be careful and do something to prevent and reduce the risk of infection.
After all, all those steps on how to prevent your hamster from Salmonellosis are not that hard. Those are actually some of the basic steps to have your hamster stay healthy and clean! We all want our little furry friend to have a long life span without any health issues. A healthy hamster is a happy hamster!