How Much Water Your Hamster Needs (Complete Guide)

Arguably the most important requirement of hamster care is free access to fresh water. Hamsters are small animals and can become dehydrated in surprisingly little time. If you are considering adding a hamster to your home, you will need to familiarize yourself with a rodent’s water needs.

How much water does your hamster need? The average hamster will drink between 10 and 30 mL per day, or between 2 and 6 teaspoons. This may seem like a very small amount, but hamsters are quite small and can become dehydrated in as little as a few hours without adequate access to water. For this reason, fresh water should always be available to your pet, so that he is able to self-regulate his water intake and stay hydrated. 

Read on to learn more about a hamster’s water needs, the best way to provide free access to water, and how to tell if your hamster is getting enough water.

How Much Water Do Hamsters Drink?

The amount of water that your hamster drinks will vary slightly depending on the size of your pet, but on average most hamsters will drink between 10 and 30 mL per day. To put this in perspective, 5 mL equals 1 teaspoon. Using this measurement, the typical hamster will drink between 2 and 6 teaspoons of water per day.

Dwarf hamsters, being much smaller in size than Syrian hamsters, will drink closer to 10 mL per day, and the smallest of dwarf hamster will drink half that amount. Larger Syrian hamsters will, understandably, fall on the higher range of this average. Interestingly, adult female hamsters will usually drink more water per day than adult male hamsters. This may be associated with their fertility cycle and hormonal changes. 

The Best Water Bottles To Use For Hamsters

There are many different rodent water bottles on the market. While the majority of them will use the same basic design, there are a few elements you should look for. 

The ideal hamster water bottle will be:

  • The right size
  • Leak-free
  • Transparent
  • Easily secured

If you are looking online for a water bottle, include the word “hamster” in your search bar. Many different kinds of animals use water bottles – pet owners even use them in their dog kennels. If you purchase a water bottle designed for larger animals, the nozzle may be too wide, drenching your poor hamster each time he tries to take a drink. Even within the category of water bottles designed specifically for hamsters, you will find a wide range of sizes. If you use a bottle that is too large, you may find yourself going too long between water changes – for sanitary reasons, your hamster’s water should be changed on a regular schedule. On the other hand, if you end up with a water bottle that is too small, you will not be able to leave your hamsters more than a day or so without refilling the bottle. An appropriately-sized water bottle will require frequent changes while also providing the flexibility for you to be gone for a long weekend without worrying about the your pet running out of water.

One of the most frequent complaints made by pet owners about their hamster’s water bottle is the tendency for them to leak. This is where product reviews are most helpful – some brands will be more likely to leak than others. If your water bottle leaks, you will find yourself not only having to refill the bottle more frequently, but also changing your hamster’s bedding more often. Water leaks create a mess and need to be addressed right away for both cleanliness and the health of your hamster. Choose a water bottle that gets excellent reviews in this area – and if your water bottle starts to leak, replace it immediately.

When using a water bottle for your hamster, you will need to be able to easily assess the water level. If you have a colored or opaque water bottle, transparency can become an issue and seeing the level of the water can be a challenge. Clear bottles are best, so that you can quickly see when you need to refill the water. Some water bottles are sold with small rubber ducks (or other similar floating apparatus) that sit on top of the water. As the water level lowers, you can easily see the rubber duck lowering as well. This is very helpful for quickly assessing the water level.

And of course, your water bottle will be of little use if you are unable to properly secure it to your enclosure. Almost all mountable water bottles will be sold with the hardware with which it is secured. Many water bottles are secured with a thin wire that wraps around the bottle and hooks onto the cage – these will fit almost any mesh or wired cage. These wires can be cumbersome however, and will need to be re-installed each time the water bottle is filled. There are other systems that mount a holster onto the cage – each time you remove and refill the water bottle, you simply snap it into the holster, which is usually easier and quicker than the wired assembly. If you do not have enclosure walls which will allow a mounted water bottle, there are many different free-standing water bottles on the market as well – just make sure these are well-secured so that they do not tip over (again, reviews are your friend!).

Can Hamsters Drink Water From A Bowl?

Water bottles are the way to go for both sanitation and convenience. But you may find yourself in a situation where a bottle is not available – for example, if you discover late at night that you have a badly leaking water bottle, you may be unable to obtain a replacement until the following day. In a pinch, you can certainly use a bowl for water. After all, hamsters in the wild do not have access to water bottles, and they get on just fine.

If you must use a bowl for water, try to find a heavy, shallow bowl that will be difficult to tip over. Hamsters can quickly become hypothermic if submerged into cold water, and care should be taken to protect your hamster from falling into the dish. To accomplish this, you may wish to fill the bottom of the dish with small rocks, especially if you are concerned about the depth of the bowl. If you can, try to elevate the dish slightly (assuring it is still easily accessible to your hamster) so that there will be less contamination from litter and food particles.

To learn more about what to do if your hamster gets wet, visit my article Can Hamsters Get Wet? Read Before Trying.

How Many Water Bottles Does Your Hamster Need?

If your hamster lives alone, one water bottle should be adequate, unless your enclosure is exceptionally large or has several different levels. Dwarf hamsters are sometimes kept in pairs, and in this situation, you may decide to keep two different water bottles. Hamsters, in general, are very territorial animals (which is why they are often kept alone, and why Syrian hamsters are always kept alone), and they may start to fight over resources. If you do not notice any fighting, that alone does not mean that two different water bottles are not needed – sometimes one hamster may dominate the water bottle, preventing the other hamster from accessing it. When keeping more than one hamster in an enclosure, it is usually recommended that each has his or her own accessories – this means multiple water bottles, multiple food dishes, and multiple dens and chew toys.

How To Determine If Your Hamster Is Drinking Enough Water

Like almost all animals, hamsters are able to self-regulate when it comes to staying hydrated. If your hamster is alert and active, it is unlikely she is dehydrated. Signs of dehydration in hamsters include lethargy and sunken eyes. You can also pinch the skin at the back of the neck – if your hamster is properly hydrated, the skin will bounce back into place when you let go. Your hamster may be dehydrated if the skin is slow to go back to its original form. 

If you would like to stay on top of the amount of water your hamster is drinking, you can look for a water bottle that will help you with measure that. Some hamster water bottles will measure the level of water in millileters. If your hamster is properly hydrating, the level of water should decrease by at least 5-10 millileters per day. 

A Hamster Should Always Be Able To Access Water

Every hamster requires constant access to fresh water. This is easiest to provide in a hamster water bottle, but in a pinch, can also be offered in an appropriately-sized dish. If your hamster is healthy and you are using an appropriately-sized water bottle, there is little reason to be concerned about your hamster’s level of hydration. After all, a hamster is better able to determine when he is in need of water than anyone else, and like you, will drink water when thirsty.

Are you in the process of researching for a pet hamster? If so, I have another article that may be a help! Check out my article Are Hamsters Easy to Take Care Of? What You Need to Know.

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