How do hamsters keep clean, and should you give them a bath every so often? My hamster is normally quite clean but every so often she seems to make a real mess of herself. Just like me, you might be wondering how you can best clean your hamster, or if she would do this herself. Let’s investigate the cleaning habits of hamsters and see what the best course of action is regarding your hamster’s personal hygiene.
How often should you give a hamster a bath? You shouldn’t bathe your hamster at all, especially not in water. Hamsters are very capable of cleaning themselves and stay clean easily as long as their living space is kept clean. But should your hamster be dirty, for example it has poop on him, use a cloth with dry pet shampoo and wipe your hamster down. Provide a sand bath in their cage so your hamster has an additional way to stay clean. Never use a water bath for your hamster or let him swim. The only exception is if your hamster has a substance on their fur which would be dangerous to be licked off by your hamster, like paint for example.
How often should you give a hamster a bath?
How do hamsters clean themselves?
Hamsters clean themselves by licking and grooming their fur. They are quite agile and keep most of their body clean. Problems arise when their living space is not kept clean and dry. In an ideal world, wet bedding and paper strips are removed from the cage every day and the complete cage cleaned weekly. This means clean bedding once a week as well.
While this might seem like a big job, it keeps your hamster clean and healthy.
You can help your hamster by putting a bowl with sand in your hamster’s cage. Some use play sand mixed with bird cage sand. You can also use chinchilla sand. Either way, your hamster will love it and the sand will keep all the hard to get to places nice and clean.
Is it safe to give my hamster a water bath?
No, it’s not safe at all to give your hamster a water bath. This is for several reasons. Your hamster
- will get soaking wet which can lower their body temperature
- will have the oil in their coat removed by the water
- gets stressed as hamsters have a natural fear of water (they are hydrophobic)
All of this can lead to disease in your hamster. Immediate problems could be a simple cold, hypothermia or even pneumonia. This is because of the change in body temperature. It can be hard to warm up a wet hamster quickly.
Stressed hamsters also have a reduced immune system which can in turn lead to other diseases like wet tail which is diarrhea in hamsters.
How often do you need to give a hamster a bath?
You don’t need to give your hamster a bath at all, especially not a water bath. Your hamster will groom himself, which keeps your hamster clean overall. However, you can put a bowl of sand in your hamster’s cage so he can bath himself in the sand.
It might become a bit messy in the cage, but weekly cage cleaning will sort that. Just place a shallow bowl of sand in your hamsters’ cage and keep an eye out that it’s clean. You can top up the sand during the week and replace it when you clean out the cage.
The sand will give your hamster an extra way to clean themselves and most hamsters are very happy in sand baths.
How do I know if my hamster needs a bath?
If your hamster is very dirty, for example, after an illness, like wet tail (diarrhea) or when you have left your hamsters cage dirty for a long time, your hamster might need some additional cleaning. In that case it’s best to clean your hamster with a cloth and some dry pet shampoo if you have it, or otherwise with a very small amount of water.
You can also put a bowl of sand in your hamster’s cage so she can have a bath whenever she feels like it. The sand will go between her hairs and will really clean her well. You will find that your hamster will very much enjoy her sand bath.
How do you give a hamster a bath?
The only way to give your hamster a bath safely is by putting a sand bath in her cage to use whenever she wants to. Water baths are not an option for hydrophobic creatures (fear of water). While hamsters can swim, they don’t like it and it stresses them out, so don’t put your hamster in the sink or in a bathtub to clean them. Instead keep their cage clean and offer sand.
How often do hamsters clean themselves?
Hamsters don’t have a set routine where they wake up and clean themselves every morning for example. They clean when they feel they need to. Hamsters are normally very clean and keep themselves groomed well. If your hamster stinks, it could be that he is marking territory excessively. It’s important what treat your hamster sees which makes them territorial. Or it could be that the cage is not being kept clean enough and dirty bedding is making your hamster stink.
Do hamsters need sand baths?
Yes, but not necessary for the reason you would expect. Hamsters are very good at keeping clean, but you should still put a sand bath in your hamster’s cage because you hamster will love it. It’s not just a great way to keep your hamster clean, it’s because most hamsters also love to roll around and play in their sand bath. And it’s important for your hamster to have a stimulating environment to prevent boredom, stress and cage rage.
Can I leave a sand bath in my hamsters’ cage?
Yes, you can leave a sand bath in your hamster’s cage. Just put a shallow bowl in your hamster’s cage and fill it with chinchilla sand or mix some play sand with bird sand. Keep the sand clean and remove any dirt from it daily. You can fill it up with new sand, but you should replace all the sand and wash the bowl once a week.
Can you bathe hamsters in water?
No, you should never bathe hamsters in water because:
- They have a natural fear of water
- You’ll remove the natural oil from their fur
- You will unnecessarily stress out your hamster.
You hamster is very good at grooming and keeping himself nice and clean. If your hamster does get very dirty and doesn’t manage to clean himself, then give him a hand with a damp cloth (not one that’s soaking wet) and wipe the dirt off.
Why do hamsters stink?
Hamsters normally stink because of two reasons:
- You don’t keep the cage clean properly
- Your hamster is stressed or ill and doesn’t clean themselves properly
- Your hamster is overly marking his territory which makes him and the cage stink
Solutions to these problems are:
- Keeping the cage clean by removing any poop or soiled bedding daily and completely cleaning the cage weekly will prevent your hamster from stinking.
- If your hamster is stressed, you will need to find the stress factors (read more about stress in hamsters here) and eliminate these.
- If you suspect your hamster to be ill, you will need to take him to the vet at once.
- If your hamster is marking his territory excessively, then this could be because another hamster near or in his cage is making him territorial or because your hamster is developing (or has developed) cage rage.
Can hamsters shower with water?
No, don’t ever shower your hamster with water as this is just as bad as bathing them. Leave your hamster to clean themselves or provide a sand bath so your hamster can do an even better job. There is no need to shower your hamster as it will cause stress, because your hamster has a natural fear of water and because you’ll wash of oil in his fur. Your hamster will also have a chance of getting too cold too quickly when he’s wet. So please don’t shower your hamster, ever.
Can hamsters swim in water?
Yes, hamsters can swim, however they should not be put into water to swim or to be cleaned, ever. As hamsters have a natural fear of water, ‘swimming’ will be extremely stressful for your little pet. Containers, baths and sinks also have high edges, which means your hamster can’t get out by himself. Read more about swimming hamsters here.
How do hamsters clean their teeth?
The teeth of hamsters continue to grow their entire life. But don’t worry, they won’t be so long that you will have to file them down. You also don’t need to brush them for them. Hamsters gnaw at wood and sometimes their cage bars to keep their teeth in check. And eating a good diet low in sugar will keep their teeth healthy. Problems occur when hamsters are stressed or have cage rage and start to gnaw excessively, to the point of damaging their teeth badly and leaving them with a sore and possibly infected mouth.
How often to sand bath?
If you leave a bowl with sand in your hamster’s cage, your hamster will decide if and when they want to go in it. Sometimes they just like to roll and play in the sand every so often, other times they spend a lot of time in their sand. Just keep the sand clean and replace it weekly and your hamster will do the rest.
How often do I need to clean my hamster’s sand bath?
Remove any dirt from the sand bath daily, so there is always clean sand available. You should clean the dish and replace the sand on a weekly basis.
Can I give my dwarf hamster a water bath?
Dwarf hamsters also don’t like water and will get just as stressed as other hamster breeds. As a rule, only give hamsters water to drink and that’s it.
When should I give my hamster a bath?
There will be circumstances where you will need to bathe your hamster. Only give your hamster a bath if there is no other choice available and your hamster will die if he grooms himself and licks of the substance on his fur.
For example, my friend’s hamster once fell through the open stairs into an open pot of paint. Luckily, she saw it happen and he was quickly scooped out. But of course, he was covered in paint. This was an awful accident but luckily the paint was water based so her hamster had a good chance of survival. After careful washing in lukewarm water and after being dried thoroughly, her hamster recovered and lived out her live into old age.
How often do I need to clean my hamsters cage?
Ideally you should clean your hamster’s cage once a week, this includes replacing sand and bedding. If your hamster is storing fresh food, then this should be removed on a weekly basis as well. On top of that you want to remove any dirt, poop or fresh leftover food on a daily basis.
Conclusion: How often should you give a hamster a bath?
- You shouldn’t give your hamster a water bath
- but you can give your hamster a sand bath
- Only use damp cloths with dry pet shampoo if your hamster is really dirty
- Only put your hamster in water in emergency situations when the substance on your hamster’s fur is too dangerous for your hamster to lick off and impossible to remove with just a cloth. Water based paint would be an example.
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