Tapeworms in Hamsters

PetMD Editorial
Jul 22, 2010
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Endoparasitic Worm Load in Hamsters

Tapeworms belong to a category of endoparasitic flatworms infecting several domestic animals, including hamsters. When compared to mice and rats, tapeworm infection in hamsters is quite common. Typically, the tapeworms are transmitted when the hamster comes in contact with contaminated water and/or feed.

It is worth noting that some tapeworms that infect hamsters can also infect humans. Hence, it is vital you handle a hamster suspected of tapeworm infection with utmost caution. Fortunately, this type of infection is treatable -- both in hamsters and humans.

Symptoms

Hamsters suffering with tapeworm infection usually show no characteristic external signs. However, if the infection becomes severe, the tapeworms can cause dehydration, diarrhea, and inflammation and blockage of the intestines. Non-specific symptoms associated with tapeworm infections include loss of appetite and weight loss.

Causes

Hamsters can be infected with several types of tapeworms, some of which can even infect humans. These endoparasites are usually transmitted when the hamster comes in contact with contaminated water and/or feed. However, contact with carriers of the endoparasites, such as cockroaches, beetles, and fleas, can also lead to infection.

Diagnosis

Since no characteristic symptoms are usually exhibited by an infected hamster, laboratory tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Your veterinarian will collect fecal samples and examine them under a microscope to locate and identify the type of tapeworm eggs.

Treatment

Endoparasitic infection is easily treatable and several specially formulated anthelminthic drugs are available to kill tapeworms. They can be administered to your hamster by either mixing it with feed or water.

Hamsters with a heavy endoparasitic infection or those that have gone undiagnosed for a long time may require fluid and electrolyte therapy. Your veterinarian may also recommend giving the hamster vitamin and mineral supplements to improve the animal's body condition.

Living and Management

Follow the supportive care regimen as set forth by your veterinarian to help your hamster overcome tapeworm infection quickly and completely. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the hamster's living area before reintroducing it into the environment. Tapeworm eggs, though invisible by the naked eye, may be laying on bedding material or in the water and feed.

Prevention

In addition to maintaining proper sanitation techniques, bringing the hamster to your veterinarian for regular deworming appointments is the best way of preventing incidences of tapeworm infections.

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