Pseudotuberculosis in Hamsters: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

Pseudotuberculosis in hamsters is a common bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.  Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a food-borne pathogen that can be spread to hamsters when they eat food contaminated by feces from birds or other hamsters.

These are the areas we will focus on in this article;

Causes of pseudotuberculosis in hamsters

Pseudotuberculosis is a common foodborne illness in hamsters caused by cold-tolerant bacteria known as Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.  Hamsters can get the bacteria by ingesting it through the mouth or any other form of contact with the infected environment.

By ingesting the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis bacteria, a hamster could feed or drink water from a contaminated container. The contamination is mostly from feces from other pets.

The bacteria can also get into a hamster through an open wound when it comes into contact with an infested surface. This could be bedding, hamster toys, or direct contact with feces from an infected animal. 

Symptoms of pseudotuberculosis in hamsters

Pseudotuberculosis takes the longest time to show its symptoms in hamsters than in other pets. As a hamster owner, you must be vigilant to notice when Yersinia pseudotuberculosis attacks your pet.

Pseudotuberculosis in hamsters is mainly characterized by persistent diarrhea at the initial stages of the infection. Diarrhea continues for a few weeks and you start noticing a loss of weight in your hamster.

At this stage, the hamster may lack appetite making your pet even weak. The hamster eventually shows signs of emaciation when almost dying.

A hamster suffering from pseudotuberculosis will also have enlarged lymph nodes and a bloated stomach. 

Diagnosis of pseudotuberculosis in hamsters

You can diagnose pseudotuberculosis in your hamster at home by running your fingers around the neck. If you notice swollen lymph nodes, then there is a possibility your hamster has pseudotuberculosis.

The veterinarian may conduct fecal culture. Fecal culture is a lab test to find organisms in the stool of an infected animal.

How to help a hamster suffering from pseudotuberculosis

There is no permanent cure when a hamster gets a pseudotuberculosis attack. Even with antibiotics, the hamster has between 2 weeks to 3 months before it dies. The most you can do is to help the infected pet cope with the situation for a longer period.

Observing hygiene is the most recommended solution when your hamster has pseudotuberculosis. 

Since Yersinia pseudotuberculosis can be transferred from humans to hamsters, you should start by always keeping your hands clean.

You should also make sure that the hamster’s cage is kept clean. Wash the bedding, running wheel, and toys. You should also sanitize the cage to kill all the bacteria.

Make an effort to feed your hamster when you notice a drop in appetite. You can do this by blending and syringe-feeding your hamster.

If your hamster has been drinking from a water bowl, you should switch it to a water bottle. Drinking from a water bottle eliminates the chances of a hamster drinking contaminated water.

How to prevent the spread of pseudotuberculosis in hamsters

In most cases, hamsters get infected with pseudotuberculosis when they get in direct contact with or ingest the Yersinia pseudotuberculosis bacteria.

The most effective preventive measure will therefore be cleaning the hamster’s cage regularly. Clean and sanitize your hamster’s cage at least twice per week. Thorough cleaning of the hamster’s cage will include washing the bedding, toys, and feeding bowls. You should also disinfect the cage to be sure you kill all bacteria. You should also separate an infected pet from the rest when you notice symptoms of pseudotuberculosis in hamsters. Depopulation is an effective measure to prevent the spread of pseudotuberculosis from infected hamsters.