How do hamsters use their tail? Do they actually have tails? You might be reviewing how on earth this tiny pet manages its tail. Just like in humans, science tells us that all body parts in animals have a purpose. Some of the body parts are necessary for survival, while others may not be that much significant.

In a standard anatomical structure, an animal body is comprised of different parts, each assigned to a specific system. Studies and research commonly discuss the structure and functions of an animal’s heart, lungs, skin, kidneys, and a lot more of those seemingly more essential components of an animal’s anatomy.

That is why this article will be focusing on an animal body part which is less discussed, but equally significant. The hamster’s tail!


What Is a Tail?

A tail is the flexible extension of an animal’s vertebrae, which extends beyond and sectioned at the rear end of an animal’s body. In mammals (including humans), reptiles, and birds, the tail corresponds to the sacrum and the coccyx.

Tails of animals provide numerous purposes which can include being a source of balance and locomotion, for brushing away insects and flies, and some species also have “prehensile tails” which allow them to quickly grasp on tree branches, as in the case of monkeys and possums.

Tails are also used as an essential means of communication. Animals frequently use this part of their body to signal danger. Some species use their tail for protection and self-defense, like scorpions that contain poison at the end of their tails. Tails also indicate emotion, like dogs who wag their tails whenever they are happy or excited.

In the case of humans, we too have tails. In utero, the tail usually is about 1/6 in proportion to the actual length of the embryo. As the fetus grows, this tail is slowly absorbed by the developing body, and there are rare instances of babies who are born with a “soft tail.” All humans have tails which generally doesn’t display. This tail is called coccyx, which you can typically locate at the bottom of the spine.


Hamster Tail

We all know that hamsters are cute little animals. Mice are also small animals with long tails that help them keep balance.

Both hamsters and mice belong to the same kingdom of rodents. But this does not indicate that they have the same physical attributes. To answer whether a hamster has a tail or not, yes they do have a tail. But unlike mice, the tails of hamsters are short and stubby.

It is probably the biggest and the most noticeable difference between hamsters and mice. In fact, a normal hamster’s tail is only about 1/16 part as compared to its actual body size. The only hamster breed which has a longer tail length is the Chinese hamster, whose tail usually is as long as it’s body.


What Is the Actual Purpose of a Hamster’s Tail?

Along with adding up to its cuteness, a hamster’s tail also serves several other purposes. Just like any other member of the rodent kingdom, hamsters use their tails as a tool to help keep balance and stability.
It mainly applies to the Chinese hamster breed which has longer tails. Their tail also helps them regulate the body temperature.

Lastly, you can quickly determine the hamster’s gender by using the tail anatomy and checking the hamster’s tail line, with females having trim and narrow tail lines and the male hamsters having bulges on both sides.


Tail Problems

The most common grinding disease affecting hamsters is what we call “wet tail.“ It is a drastic and life-threatening condition that can be fatal if not identified immediately.

Wet tail is a rigid bacterial infection that is very contagious especially for hamsters who share the same cage and dwelling places. If not treated immediately, a hamster suffering from wet tail can die within 24-48 hours.
Other less critical conditions that may affect a hamster’s tail may include ringworms, mange, splinters, or a bite or scratch that has become abscessed.


What Causes Wet Tail?

Wet tail is a serious condition among hamsters that is primarily caused by the bacteria known as Lawsonia intracellularis. It happens when a hamster comes in contact with contaminated food and water.

It often affects hamsters that are around 3 to 6 weeks old but can occur anytime during a hamster’s lifetime. Another major contributing factor is stress, which can occur because of various reasons such as surgery, dietary changes, most recent transport, weaning, or abnormal and poor cage conditions.

Aside from the “wet” tail, or a soiled and moist area around the anus, symptoms may also present in varied forms such as excessive and watery stool, dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, dull sunken eyes, failure to groom, irritability, hunched posture when sitting and walking, and protruding rectum caused by constant straining. In critical cases, blood is also present in stools.

Once suspected of having a wet tail, a hamster needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Failure to do so can significantly decrease the hamster’s chances of survival. Once diagnosed, the treatment may include rehydration using oral or subcutaneous fluids, anti-diarrheal medications, and antibiotics.


How to Avoid Wet Tail in Hamsters?

Although it is not entirely possible to ensure that your hamsters will never get wet tail during their lifetime, there are specific guidelines that you can follow and precautions you can take to minimize the chances of your hamster acquiring the disease significantly.

  1. Regular cleaning of your hamster’s cage is essential. It means removing and replacing soiled beddings on a daily basis and weekly cleaning and scrubbing of the enclosure using soap and water.
  2. Ask and examine the tail and carefully observe the behavior while purchasing a new hamster.
  3. When looking to buy a new hamster, make several trips to the pet shop and determine whether the hamsters are living in the right cage conditions. It may also lessen the possibility of bringing an infected hamster at home.
  4. Remember that wet tail is a stress-related condition. Therefore, it is best to minimize the stress causing factors such as rough and sudden handling, or a loud noise. Limit your contact to new hamsters until they get comfortable with their new home.



Hamsters have small, barely noticeable tails, but yes, they do have tails. They are born with it. It serves a handful of purpose, and it is probably an essential part of a hamster’s physical anatomy.


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