If your hamster is looking a little grubby, then you might want to give them the opportunity to clean themselves with a sand bath. Sand baths are the method by which hamsters would clean themselves in the wild - they don’t tend to enjoy water baths like we do! Water and liquids wash away lots of the special oils on their coat that are important to their health, and so removing these substances can cause your pet some skin problems. It’s best not to water-bathe your hamster unless it has got something harmful on its coat, such as human food that it shouldn’t digest.
Before you give your hamster a sand bath, you might want to question why your hamster is dirty. Are they not grooming themselves properly? Is their skin scabby? Are they losing hair? Is the place that looks unclean around their rear end and genitals? If any of these are the case, then bath might not be what’s needed. The root cause of the grubbiness may be a health problem.
Hamsters do lots of their grooming themselves, but they might benefit from a sand bath from time to time
Watch your hamster for a while to see if it’s carrying out normal grooming behaviours.
- If it’s not cleaning its face with its paws, then it may have a leg injury that needs attention.
- If it’s not licking itself or reaching round to groom its back legs then it may have overgrown teeth.
- If your hamster is grooming itself as normal but is still looking grubby, then it may have a skin condition.
- Matted hair and balding could mean that your pet has a problem like skin mites or sarcoptic mange.
- An unclean rear end is a symptom of the life-threatening condition known as wet tail.
Identify what’s making your pet untidy, and then see if you can use this symptom to figure out what your hamster is suffering from in our hamster illness section. If there are any worrying symptoms then we recommend you take your pet to see a vet.
If you’re sure that your pet is in good health, then feel free to go ahead with the sand bath. Find a small container that your hamster can fit in, and fill it halfway to the top with sand - chinchilla sand is a good option if you can’t find one specifically for hamsters. Put your hamster in the little container, and it may then have a little bath of its own accord by squirming around in the sand. Some hamsters like these baths, and other’s don’t, so be prepared for your hamster not to take to it.