Protozoal Infections in Hamsters

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 9, 2010

Protozoal Gastroenteritis in Hamsters

Protozoa are single-celled organisms that are capable of causing disease in hamsters, the most common of which is protozoal gastroenteritis. Although healthy hamsters often carry protozoa in their digestive tracts without adverse reactions, hamsters that are young or stressed may develop intestinal infections and diarrhea as a result of a weakened immune system.

Protozoal infections are treatable with the aid of anti-protozoal drugs. However, preventing the infection from occurring in the first place is more practical than treating to cure it.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Restlessness
  • Dull and depressed appearance
  • Profuse watery diarrhea, which may or may not be foul smelling
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)


This infection is transmitted via the ingestion of contaminated feed and water. Contaminated bedding material may also act as a source of protozoal infection.


In addition to observing your hamster's symptoms, the veterinarian can diagnose a protozoal infection by examining the hamster's feces.


There are certain anti-protozoal drugs like metronidazole that can be given orally, dissolved in the drinking water, or through injection to control the protozoal infection. If your hamster is dehydrated, a veterinarian may also recommend providing fluids and electrolytes to the animal.

Living and Management

Separate the infected hamsters from the normal hamsters. Take steps to clean and disinfect all the cages and dispose off any used bedding matter. Follow the veterinarian’s advice for helping your hamster make full recovery from protozoal infection.


Protozoal infections can be prevented to a great extent by maintaining good sanitary cage conditions. Dispose of used bedding material and routinely clean the cage using recommended disinfecting solutions. Also, separate hamsters that appear infected from those that are healthy, and young hamsters from older ones.

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