Everyone knows about the little hamster water bottle attached to the sides of cages. At this point, it’s almost a pop culture entity. However, there’s a lot more to know about hamsters and their water drinking habits that are going to be covered throughout this article.
For every 8 ounces of body weight, which is approximately the average size of a hamster, they should typically consume 0.6 ounces of water every day. Therefore, you should expect your hamster to drink approximately half a fluid ounce of water regularly.
However, it’s important to note here that the consumption of water varies from one hamster to another. The water they drink is usually 10 percent of their body weight. Factors like size, sex, activity, stress level, and age may also play a vital role in determining how much water a hamster will drink per day.
Now, of course, you don’t need to measure the exact volume of water your hamster is consuming, but you should be cognizant if they are drinking far too much or far too little each day. And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article and more.
Why is My Hamster Drinking So Much Water?
You may notice your hamster drinking more water during certain periods of time, most likely the warmer summer months. The quick and obvious answer is that they may be trying to keep themselves cool. Their thirst may also increase as a result of any alteration in their diet.
Other than those 2 most common reasons, other health concerns such as diabetes, dental complications, and urinary tract infections can also be the reason why your hamster is drinking so much water. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Dehydration in Hamsters
Hamster owners often overlook dehydration in their furry friends because it is common to leave them unsupervised in their cages. If you’re not looking at them constantly, you may miss the signs. Various factors can prompt your hamsters to get dehydrated. Here are some of the common indications of dehydration in hamsters:
- Swollen tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Dark-colored and foul-smelling urine
- Weight loss
To check if your hamster is dehydrated, you can gently pinch their skin, ensuring you are not hurting them. If it takes longer for the skin to return to its normal position, it is more likely that they are dehydrated.
If you notice any of these signs, you should take your hamster to the vet to get a professional diagnosis and solution.
Overheating in Hamsters
Temperature is one of the primary reasons for your hamster to drink too much or too little water. 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for the comfort of your hamster. If your home is hotter than this, your hamster will try to lower their internal body temperature by drinking more water because due to their thick fur, the heat can cause them to overheat.
If you live in a place with extreme weather conditions, you need to find an alternative way to balance the temperature around their cage. A stable environment is necessary for hamsters to live a healthy life.
Here are some ways to provide relief to your hamsters:
- Warp a chilled bottle with some fleece or towel and place it inside their cage
- Mist cold water onto them
You may find other ways to keep the temperature cooler in the warm months, but just remember that hamsters need a steady temperature to stay healthy.
Change in Hamster’s Diet
Excessive thirst in hamsters can be a result of a change in their diet. Diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration, is often triggered in hamsters by introducing new foods into their diet. And diarrhea can lead to the loss of important electrolytes from their body.
Regardless of the breed and age of your hamster, food plays a vital role in its life. So, make sure to supply them with adequate amounts of the correct nutrition. Here are some healthy foods to be included in your hamster’s diet:
- Fruits: Pears, strawberries, bananas, apples without seeds
- Vegetables: Cucumber, spinach, carrot, broccoli
- Small pieces of only scrambled and boiled eggs
- Commercially produced hamster pellets
- Fresh hay
One other thing to note is the salt in their diet. Are you adding extra salt to your hamster’s diet? Are you aware of the salt content in their food, treats, or other areas they may be licking? Salt can be a major cause of dehydration because it drains the water from the cells. This might also be why you find them drinking so much water.
And finally, have they been eating foods they shouldn’t have, such as chocolate? Hamsters shouldn’t eat chocolate and you can read more in this article of what you should do if your hamster ate chocolate.
Why is My Hamster Not Drinking Water?
There are many potential issues why your hamster may not be drinking water. However, this section is purely information and not meant as a diagnosis. You should absolutely get a vet’s professional advice for any of the following issues.
Common Medical Issues for Your Hamster
Not drinking water can imply medical problems for your little friend and it’s important to be aware of the following issues. Let’s cover some of the medical conditions that can influence the water-drinking and eating habits of your hamster.
- Intestinal Problems: If your hamster has trouble digesting water and food, they may find it difficult to drink water without feeling uncomfortable. This can be why they have stopped drinking water and warrants a trip to the vet.
- Pain: Your hamster will abstain from eating and drinking if an underlying illness or sickness is causing them severe pain. Some illnesses make the pain worse when they drink water. In such circumstances, your pet hamster will avoid drinking water.
- Temperature or Hibernation: Hamsters often withdraw into a mini hibernation if the temperature in their residential enclosure drops below their preferred temperature of 70 – 75 degrees. When they wake up, pet owners should immediately get their hamsters hydrated and try to restore the temperature to comfortable levels.
- Respiratory Illness: Difficulty breathing induced by respiratory illnesses often leads hamsters to stop consuming water and food.
- Dental Problems: Due to some dental problems like ingrown teeth or a sore in the mouth, hamsters will stop eating and drinking due to the pain.
- Wet Tail: Wet tail is an aptly named condition that can lead to diarrhea as a result of stress and bacterial issues. With diarrhea or other stress issues, your hamster may stop drinking water.
Stress Levels in a Hamster
Did you bring home a new hamster recently? Chances they may be experiencing any or all of the following:
- They are frightened
- They have an underlying medical problem
- Their cage is not suitable for comfortable and healthy living (here is the best place to keep a hamster cage)
- They are put in the same cage as your other pets
All of these and more can lead to stress and stress can lead to not drinking enough water. If you notice them pulling their fur, biting, or running around anxiously they may be stressed.
As a hamster owner, it is your responsibility to find out what is causing your furry friend anxiety and try to resolve the situation. Once they have settled in, they will feel comfortable and safe in their new home and ideally you will start to see their eating and drinking habits return to normal.
And as a final note, make sure that the room you have arranged for them does not have any other stressors, such as other pets or large fans because it often leads to anxiety.
An Unstable Environment and Routine for Your Hamster
A constantly changing environment will cause any hamster to have anxiety and be stressed out. It’s a fine balance between providing enough change to engage healthy stimulation and avoid boredom, but not too much change that it stresses them out. Keep note of this as you and your furry friend bond over time.
A rule of thumb to follow is that having a standard routine with minor changes here and there is a good balance. You don’t want to completely change out their toys or the structure of their cage, but instead you can add a single new toy, in addition to everything else they had before. That should keep them engaged without causing stress.
And once again, an anxious hamster will stop drinking water and likely won’t eat properly either. Until you put everything back in place to reduce that new anxiety, their water-drinking habits will be adversely affected.
Also related to your hamster’s environment is that they need clean cages. You should be changing out the bedding, water, and food daily. You also need to be mindful of your feeding routine. To create a standard routine, you should be feeding them at the same time of day with similar proportions.
How to Make Your Hamster Drink Water
Want to make sure your pet hamster drinks enough water? Read these handy tips below that can help increase their water consumption and decrease any factors that may be causing them to drink less.
- Try reducing the fresh vegetables and fruits for a day and put out dry pellets. Since the pellets will make your furry friend thirsty, they will be motivated to consume more water.
- Try putting multiple water bottles at different heights in their cage or use a ceramic water bowl. In some cases, the hamster may be thirsty but find it difficult to reach the water bottle.
- Put a drop of honey or some peanut butter on the tip of the bottle. Your pet hamster will go for the treat and end up drinking water. However, only do this occasionally since honey and peanut butter are not the healthiest hamster treat.
- Encourage your hamster to play with bigger toys and make more floor space for them to play around. Playing more will lead to more exercise. More activities mean your hamster will get thirsty and drink more water.
- At times, the hamster’s water bottle has a bad smell or taste. Try changing out the water every day if they haven’t been drinking enough water.
- Use a mild detergent to regularly clean the hamster’s water bottle and ensure it is completely free from cleaning products before you put it back.
- Some hamsters don’t like the taste of tap water. Try switching from tap water to bottled or distilled water and see if that helps.
- You can use an eyedropper every 60 minutes to give a few drops of water to your hamster if you need to manually give them water.
Can a Hamster Drink Water Out of a Bowl?
Yes, hamsters are very capable of drinking water out of a bowl. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when thinking of a bowl instead of a water bottle:
- Make sure that the bowl is shallow enough to drink out of
- Make sure that the bowl you are using has no sharp edges
- Ensure the hamster can’t break the bowl (no delicate glass)
If you do switch to a water bowl, you will always want to make sure it’s regularly clean and free of debris, like bedding. That may mean checking their cage and water bowl more often than the bottle, but if it helps your furry friend drink a little bit more water then you should go for it.
But before we get too far, let’s talk about whether a hamster will even drink out of a bowl and what you need to know.
Will a Hamster Drink Water Out of a Bowl?
Like most animals, hamsters have evolved to search for water. If you place a hamster’s bowl inside the cage, your hamster will easily learn to drink water out of a bowl. Over time they will associate the bowl with a place to find water.
If you switch from a bottle to a bowl, they may initially find it difficult to find or understand the water bowl. However, it shouldn’t take long for them to figure it out. You can always lure them to the bowl with treats or make the bowl more prominent in the cage to make it clear.
Also, if they aren’t drinking out of the bowl, make sure they can easily reach the water. Some bowls have larger lips and make it difficult for the hamster to get to the water.
The ultimate goal is to make it as easy as possible for the hamster to access the water available to them.
How Do I Set Up a Hamster Bowl?
When you make the switch to a bowl, you should be aware of a few things to set it up correctly:
- Find the right location to put the water bowl. Make sure that you put it on a flat surface and try to keep it away from the hamster bedding since you don’t want the bedding to get in the bowl. You can use a tub or a small box to raise the water bowl and keep it separate from the bedding.
- Ensure it’s sturdy and won’t fall or be pushed over. The easiest way to do this is to put some pebbles in the hamster’s water bowl to make it heavier and prevent it from tipping over.
- Make sure that you constantly refill the hamster’s water bowl with fresh water. You need to clean and refill the bowl every day because using a bowl is a lot less sanitary than a water bottle. Bedding, bugs, and other things you don’t want to drink can get in the water and cause issues. So it’s best to be diligent and clean and refill every single day, generally at the same time each day.
If you’ve made it this far, you clearly care about your hamster and their health. Drinking water is such an important part of a healthy life for any animal, but hamsters especially. If your hamster has suddenly or gradually stopped drinking water, it’s important to know why. And hopefully this article has provided the relevant answer.
And as always, if you believe there is even the slightest chance of a medical issue, please see a vet immediately. No website or article can diagnose your hamster over the Internet.
But you can take steps to create a more comfortable and healthy environment that will encourage your furry friend to drink water, be healthy, and enjoy a long life.