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Do Hamsters Need Baths?

No - at least, not a water bath. Unlike many other pets, hamsters don’t need a regular or even an occasional water bath. This is because most hamster species have evolved ways of cleaning themselves without water, and so by washing your hamster you’ll remove a lot of important molecules from your hamster’s coat. This could cause problems with her or his skin.

Most experts advise that you should only give your hamster a liquid bath if there’s something stuck in its hair, or if there’s something on its coat that could be harmful. If you’re concerned that what is on your hamster’s coat could cause problems when they try to groom themselves, then you should bathe or partially bathe your hamster to eliminate this hazard. We advise that only adults bathe hamsters, as these animals are very small and will try to wriggle out of your hands. Try to use as little water as possible, and make sure to never submerge your hamster’s head in case they drown.

hamsters like sand baths
Whilst hamsters can have negative reactions to water baths, many really enjoy sand baths

If you want to clean your hamster because the odour from its cage is troubling you, then instead of bathing them you can experiment with cleaning out your hamster’s cage more often. Another option is to enable your hamster to clean itself with a sand bath.

Sand bathing is a natural way for your pet to clean itself. You can purchase special sand for this, but if you can’t find hamster bathing sand, then chinchilla sand will do just as well. It’s a good idea to be sure that you’re not buying dust, as dust particles are finer than sand and can get stuck in your pet’s nose and mouth, potentially causing problems. Once you’ve got the material home, simply spoon a bit of the sand into a small bowl, one that is big enough for your pet to fit in comfortably. Place your hamster gently into the bowl of sand, and it will take a sand bath by squirming about. Like humans, hamsters have their own individual tastes, and some hamsters may love these baths, but some may not.

If you have noticed that a certain part of your hamster is dirty, then instead of cleaning it yourself you might want to question whether or not there’s a health problem that’s causing the hygiene issue. For example, if your hamster has blood on its hair or on its behind, then it could be suffering from overgrown teeth, or a problem with its bowels or genitals. It’s good to be aware of certain health conditions, and to keep an eye out for them. Symptoms of one particularly nasty condition are moisture or faecal matter on the bottom. This could mean that your hamster is suffering from Wet Tail, a potentially fatal condition that requires veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Customer Images

a small grey dwarf hamster in a dust bath in a cage with sawdust


Kemi, 2 February 2022

This is a great article. My hamster sleeps from 10:00am to ten this normal in the winter? She is almost one years old, and I worry she only drinks about a tblspoon of water a day . Can some one write me an answer? Thanks, from kemi.