Do Hamsters Have Tails or Are They Tailless?

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hamster with a tail

Hamsters look tailless. If you’ve never owned or held one you’d be easily forgiven for assuming they don’t have tails at all. But actually they do have a cute little hamster tail on their rear end, and it is the source of one of their biggest problems! Today we are going to get to know the type of tail that hamsters have, find out about the common condition ‘wet tail’, and what you can do to stop your hamster getting sick.

Are Hamsters Good Pets?

Small, soft, and undeniably adorable, hamsters make sweet, docile, and interesting companions for all types of people throughout the world. Of course, hamsters were not always domesticated, and there are plenty of wild hamsters still roaming about in the wilds of Syria, Northern China, Belgium and Greece.

Today these adorable little rodents make wonderful companions for first-time pet owners and have been helping teach responsibility to school-aged children for generations. Hamsters have long been a classroom favorite as well, especially in elementary school rooms where they entertain youngsters by burrowing into their woodchips and running erratically their little exercise wheels for stimulation.

With a lifespan of between two and three years, hamsters can serve as both sweet-natured companions as well as topics of conversation and education for the entire family. One of the most curious things about hamsters, who are members of the rodent family, is that most hamsters don’t have that signature long tail. What gives? Do hamsters have tails? And if they do have tails, what do hamsters use their tails for?

Types Of Hamster

The most common hamsters sold as pets include Syrian hamsters, Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamsters, White Russian Hamsters, and Roborvski Dwarf hamsters. They are all members of the rodent family. However, unlike common rodents like mice or rats, hamsters don’t typically climb or live in trees. Instead, hamsters burrow, spending most of their time below ground.

Closely related to lemmings, mice and voles, there are around 20 species of hamsters throughout the world. While we generally think of hamsters as domesticated pets, these animals are primarily wild. In fact, only about five species of hamsters have become domesticated over the years. Every hamster breed has a tail, but one of them has a longer tail than the others, the Chinese hamster.

Hamsters also have a short lifespan of just two to three years. And a common health issue hamsters can suffer from is known as wet tail. But if a hamster suffers from wet tail, doesn’t that mean that a hamster would have to have a tail?

Do Hamsters Have Tails?

Yes! Like most rodents, hamsters do indeed have tails. However, unlike many rodents, hamsters don’t rely on their tails for balance when climbing.

What Are Hamster Tails Used For?

Hamsters are ground-dwelling creatures, and their tails are generally designed to stay out of their way when digging and burrowing. Of course, hamsters can use their tails for a variety of other tasks. Hamsters use their tails for communicating and protection of their sensitive bottom.

Female hamsters are also known to raise their tails around male hamsters when they are ready to mate. Your hamster’s tail is an extension of your hamster’s spine. For this reason, it’s important to be gentle with your hamster’s tail. Never pick your hamster up by her tail or attempt to clip or trim her tail, as this could be deadly for the animal.

How Long Can A Hamster’s Tail Be?

For most hamsters, their tail is a small stub that is often no longer than a grain of rice. However, one species of hamster does have a long tail. This species of hamster is the Chinese Hamster, also known as the Chinese Dwarf Hamster, who has the longest tail out of all the Hamster species.

The average length of a typical hamster tail is between five to six centimeters. Syrian hamsters have shorter, more stubby tails while the Chinese hamster can have a tail that grows to be as long as his body length. However, this is the only hamster with a longer tail.

The shorter length of an average hamster’s tail does tell us quite a bit about the animal and its evolution. Remember, hamsters are burrowing rodents. Their shorter tails help to ensure they can burrow more quickly while also helping protect them from predators by not dragging behind when they are escaping.

A hamster’s shorter tail is also designed to protect their sensitive nether regions, as we mentioned above. Of course, there are still mysteries behind a hamster’s short tail, and there are also pros and cons to your hamster’s tail you should know about. A serious health issue in hamsters, which we briefly discussed above, is known as wet tail.

Wet Tail in Hamsters

Though known as wet tail, this ailment really has very little to do with your hamster’s tail. In fact, wet tail is actually a term used to describe a symptom of watery diarrhea that can occur in a hamster that has contracted a type of intestinal bacteria that is making them ill.

Wet tail can be caused by Lawsonia Intracellularis or Campylobacter, but other causes of wet tail can also be due to stress. Stress to hamsters can be caused by too much handling, environmental changes, an unclean environment and more.

Wet Tail Symptoms

The most common signs of wet tail in a sick hamster that you should be aware of include:

  • A wet looking backend or tail
  • A foul odor coming from your hamster or his habitat
  • Loss of appetite or disinterest in food or treats
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Unusual behaviors including biting, nipping or aggression
  • Folded ears
  • A hunched back
  • Diarrhea

Treatment and Prevention

Wet tail is a very serious ailment in hamsters and can only be treated with an antibiotic treatment available through your veterinarian. Without treatment, hamsters can succumb to wet tail in as little as 48 hours. For this reason, it is recommended that you bring your hamster in to see your veterinarian at the first sign of wet tail.

As stress is the main cause of wet tail, to prevent this condition you should avoid stressing them out. When they first come home let them settle for a few days before you begin handling. Don’t let your cat sleep on the hamster’s cage, or any other predator linger nearby. And avoid startling them by moving slowly and carefully.

Hamsters And Hamster Tails

Although most hamsters do have short, stubby tails, their tails are an important part of their anatomy. Remember, your hamster’s tail helps her to communicate and may also help protect her sensitive bottom. vOther hamster tail uses remain somewhat of a mystery, though for the most part experts agree that their tails are important to their overall existence.

Your hamster’s tail can also be a good indication of your hamster’s health, especially when it comes to wet tail. Remember, if you notice any symptoms or signs of wet tail in your hamster, it’s important to get your hamster to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on hamsters and that we have helped answer your question do hamsters have tails! Now we want to hear from you. Did you realize that hamsters were burrowing creatures related to mice, voles, and lemmings? Tell us what you think about hamsters and their cute little tails in the comment section below.

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