Are Hamsters Clean Animals? What You Need To Know

Are Hamsters Clean Animals To Own

Are Hamsters Clean Animals?

If you are a first-time hamster parent, you may be wondering what your responsibility is in terms of grooming. Does your hamster need regular spa days, or is he or she self-sufficient when it comes to hygiene? It’s important to understand your hamster’s care requirements to ensure your pet will thrive.

Are hamsters clean animals? Hamsters are remarkably clean animals and are able to groom themselves effectively. You can even litter-train your hamster to eliminate in the same spot, which will ensure a cleaner environment. If your hamster soils himself or has something stuck to his fur, you can gently spot-clean or clip your hamster’s hair.

Read on for important information on hamster hygiene, including whether or not you should bathe your hamster and what to do if you need to intervene in your pet’s grooming. 

Why Hamsters Are Clean Animals

If you have spent any amount of time watching a hamster during waking hours, you will have noticed how frequently these animals groom themselves.

Hamsters are meticulous about hygiene. They take care of their own grooming by spreading the oils from the glands near their hips to the rest of the body.

Their grooming requirements are similar to those of a cat – simply keep an eye on them and ensure they are doing a good job; if you have to interfere, the most that should be required of you is the occasional spot cleaning.

One of the reasons that hamsters pay such close attention to their hygiene is to help them evade predators. Most land predators use their advanced senses of smell to sniff out potential prey.

Hamsters groom themselves to mask their own scent from those who would cause them harm. This consistent grooming is instinctual, and even a tame hamster who feels safe in his home will still take part in this diligent behavior.

Can You Clean A Hamster With A Bath?

Not only is bathing a hamster unnecessary, but it is also potentially harmful. Being immersed in water can interfere with a hamster’s ability to regulate his body temperature, which can quickly turn dangerous should the hamster develop hypothermia.

Hamsters are native to dry, arid climates and therefore do not have the body composition and fur qualities that would allow them to insulate themselves from the wet and cold. A wet hamster can become dangerously cold in a relatively short period of time.

Another reason hamsters should not be immersed in water is their susceptibility to stress. Since having their entire bodies in water is not natural to them, doing so will cause them immense stress and fear.

Hamsters do not handle stress well, and this alone can have disastrous consequences for your small pet. While stress can have detrimental effects on a hamster’s physical health, it can also damage the fragile bond of trust that he has developed with you, and this may alter his behavior around you.  

There is, therefore, no reason you should ever need to give your hamster a water bath. If you have seen “cute” videos online of swimming hamsters, know that this is not only advised against but can be dangerous to the health of the animal. 

Hamsters Can Stay Clean With Sand Baths

There is one type of bath that hamsters enjoy regularly, and that is the sand bath. Hamsters love to roll around in their sand baths – not only does the sand feel good against their skin, but it actually helps them stay clean as it soaks up any excess oil that may be in the hamster’s fur.

To provide your hamster with a sand bath, you only need a shallow and heavy-bottomed container (like a small ceramic dish) and some reptile sand. Make sure the reptile sand does not have any added calcium. You can keep the sand bath in your hamster’s enclosure, allowing her to use it as often as she feels it is necessary, making sure to replace the sand as it becomes soiled or dirty. 

When To Help Clean A Hamster

In an ideal world, you will not need to intervene in your hamster’s hygiene – he will address his grooming needs himself. But we live in reality, not in an ideal world, so the fact is that there may be a time or two when you will need to address a hygiene issue with your pet.

Hamsters with long hair will be more likely to need grooming help now and again than hamsters with short hair. This is especially true for long-haired Syrian hamsters – the males, in particular, often have long and thick “skirts” around their hips and the bottom third of their bodies.

These skirts may become soiled if they are dragged across their own waste, especially if the hamster has softer stool due to a few too many watery treats like grapes or bites of watermelon. If this should happen, your hamster may not be able to clean himself adequately.

The best thing to do in this situation is to carefully clip the skirt hair so that it is shorter. You can do this as a preventative measure, or you can use this method as needed when you notice a soiled skirt. 

Another solution is to simply spot-clean your hamster’s fur. If your hamster has waste or food particles stuck on his fur, you can soften the debris with the corner of a damp washcloth and gently wipe it away. This will be much easier on your hamster than a full bath and, in most situations, can be an effective solution. 

Keeping A Hamster’s Environment Clean

One of the many benefits of keeping a hamster’s environment clean is that it will help him with his own hygiene. A large amount of soiled bedding will make it impossible for your hamster to keep himself clean, in addition to causing a variety of other health and respiratory problems.

And, of course, hamsters prefer to be in a clean environment, so being kept in a chronically soiled cage will affect a hamster’s mental health as well. 

Fortunately, because hamsters naturally tend toward cleanliness, keeping a tidy home is pretty easy. It’s possible to litter train a hamster, and if you have both the time and a relatively young hamster, it is worth giving it a try.

Buy (or re-purpose) a litter container large enough for your hamster to climb in and move around. If you watch your hamster’s behavior and patterns, you may notice that she eliminates in a specific spot or corner each time.

In this situation, you will want to place the litter box in this area. Place some of the soiled bedding inside of the box so that she smells her own scent and knows what to do. If you have a large cage, you may want to invest in multiple boxes so that she is more apt to use them. 

How often should you clean your hamster’s cage?

How often you need to clean your hamster’s cage will be dependent upon a few factors. Firstly, if you have an especially large cage, you can get away with leaving most of the bedding for a longer period of time than if you had a smaller cage.

If you have a very large cage, you can spot-clean the bedding in between full cleanings – remove just the soiled bedding and replace it with clean bedding. In this situation, you may only need to do a full cleaning once every two or three weeks. If you have a smaller or average-sized cage, you should be replacing the bedding each week.

Secondly, how often you clean your cage will differ for hamsters who are litter-trained. If your hamster is litter-trained, you may be able to go a few weeks in between cleanings, so long as you replace the litter in the box regularly. Of course, this will depend on how well-trained your hamster is, and you will need to use your best judgment here.

And lastly, if you have multiple dwarf hamsters in the same enclosure, you will need to replace the bedding more often than if you had only a single hamster. More hamsters equal more waste, and the bedding of a multi-hamster enclosure will become soiled much faster than that of a lone pet.

Keeping Your Hamster Clean

Being a pet owner comes with a lot of responsibility, and it is a rare treat when one of those responsibilities can be crossed off of your list. Fortunately, when it comes to hamster grooming and bathing, you can eliminate that from your necessary chores.

Hamsters are quite self-sufficient when it comes to staying tidy, and in fact, they prefer to do this job without interference from you. Just make sure to check your hamster regularly for the occasional mess, and keep your hamster in a clean environment. Aside from this, all you need to worry about is enjoying your pet.

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