Dogs and cats get showers from their owners when they start to stink or when they need a shower. Can we assume the same for our hamster buddies, though?
To put it simply, no. When compared to canine and feline companions, hamsters have very distinct grooming requirements.
How and when to bathe your hamster, as well as some alternatives to bathing, are discussed in this article.
- Can I Bath My Hamster?
- When Should I Bathe My Hamster?
- What Are the Risks Associated with Bathing Your Hamster?
- How To Bath A Hamster
- Alternatives to Bathing a Hamster
- Products You Should Avoid Using
- How to Safely Bathe Your Hamster
- How to Keep Your Hamster Clean
Can I Bath My Hamster?
Most of the time, you don’t need to give your hamster a bath unless it’s really, really dirty. This is why.
Hamsters know when they’re dirty and will clean themselves up on their own. When you put your hamster back in its cage or enclosure the next time you hold it, watch what it does.
They will probably start cleaning up.
No offense, but you don’t want your hamster to smell like you. The hamster’s scent glands are in its hips. By rubbing their hips and then cleaning the rest of their bodies, they spread that smell and get rid of yours. Then, in their eyes, they are clean.
There are many ways for hamsters to get dirty. If you don’t clean up their waste right away after they do it in their cage, it could get stuck in their fur.
There can also be old nesting materials, food pellets that have been thrown away, dirt, and other messes.
If you see something stuck in your hamster’s fur, you’ll probably want to wash it right away. Most of the time, this is the wrong way to think.
When Should I Bathe My Hamster?
The only time a normal hamster needs a bath is when something dangerous or poisonous has gotten stuck in its fur and can’t be brushed out (like brushing or combing).
Due to how easy it is for them to catch colds, there are some things to think about when giving your pet a bath.
- Make sure the room is warm and so is the water. They are more likely to get sick when they drink cold water.
- Right after they take a bath, dry their fur as close to dry as you can get it.
- Because hamsters’ ears are sensitive, you shouldn’t use a loud blow dryer to dry their fur.
- When hamsters are completely dry to the touch, they should be put back in their cages.
What Are the Risks Associated with Bathing Your Hamster?
Most of the time, bathing your hamster will hurt it more than help it. Hamsters are already more likely to get colds than other pets.
If you don’t treat these colds, they can kill you. Putting your hamster in a sink and soaking it in water makes it even more likely to get sick.
The health of your hamster’s coat is another major risk that comes with bathing it. Your hamster’s fur not only has scent glands but also has oils that protect it.
Your hamster stays healthy because of these oils. They are much more likely to catch a cold without them.
How To Bath A Hamster
If you need to give your hamster a bath, do it safely by following these steps:
Step 1: Wet a toothbrush
Get a toothbrush and put some water on it.
Step 2: Place your hamster on your palm
Put your hamster on your palm and try to keep him as still as you can. You could also put him down on a flat surface.
Step 3: Brush your hamster gently
Brush your hamster’s fur gently with a wet toothbrush to get rid of the sticky or dangerous substance that got caught in his fur.
Step 4: Let your hamster dry in a warm space
Once you’re done cleaning your hamster, put him somewhere warm and airy to dry off before putting him back in his cage. He won’t catch a cold because of this.
Alternatives to Bathing a Hamster
Since hamsters shouldn’t take baths in water, here are some other ways to clean your little furry friend!
If your hamster is dirty or has something stuck in its fur, you can safely clean it by brushing or combing it.
You can do this with hamster brushes and combs or a normal toothbrush. If a hamster’s fur is longer, it should be brushed more often.
How to brush the fur on your hamster
Step 1: Pick up your hamster by the back of his neck
The skin on the back of your hamster’s neck would make it easy to pick him up. Most of the time, this keeps him calm and stops him from trying to get away.
Step 2: Brush his fur
Once he’s calmed down, take the brush or comb and brush his hair in a forward motion, then in a backward motion.
Step 3: Observe for tumors and skin conditions
Look for signs of tumors and other skin conditions as you brush.
If you handle a Syrian hamster and notice a damp spot on its back, you should take it to the vet because it is likely to have a Wet Tail.
2. Trim their fur
Some things that get stuck in their fur might not come out even if you brush them gently. So, a small pair of scissors for grooming might come in handy for cutting their fur.
For this, it’s best to use scissors for grooming dogs that are made for sensitive areas like the back of their ears. They are precise, have rounded edges, and don’t pull.
How to cut the hair on your hamster
Step 1: Gather the fur between your fingers
Start by grabbing the fur you want to cut with your fingers and making sure your hamster is as still as possible.
Step 2: Trim the fur
Cut your hamster’s fur quickly and carefully with the scissors in your hands.
3. Sand bath
This is the best way to keep your hamster clean because it’s safe and you can do it often. In fact, hamsters like to take sand baths because it cleans their fur and gets rid of grease.
When buying bath sand, it’s important to make sure that it’s really sand and not just dust. When hamsters breathe in dust, it can cause problems with their lungs.
How to give a hamster a sand bath
Step 1: Prepare a container or bathhouse
Get a box or bathhouse for your hamster that is big enough for it to roll around in.
Step 2: Fill the container or bath house with bath sand
Fill it with a special bath powder for small animals, like a hamster, and watch it roll around in the sand.
Step 3: Dust the sand off your hamster
Once your hamster is done bathing, you can either brush the sand off of him or let him do it himself. With the help of the sand bath, the dirt and poop that got stuck in his fur will come off easily.
4. Spot cleaning
Spot cleaning is used for cleaning specific spots on your hamster. However, as it involves water, it should only be used as a last resort.
How to clean your hamster in spots
Step 1: Find a warm room
Bring your hamster into a warm room where his fur can dry quickly.
Step 2: Get a wet cloth
Take some hamster wipes or wet a piece of a soft cloth or washcloth.
Step 3: Gently clean the hamster
Clean the spot on your hamster gently with the damp cloth or hamster wipe.
Step 4: Let your hamster’s fur air dry
After you are done cleaning your hamster, let his fur dry completely in the air before putting him back in his cage. This will make it less likely that he will catch a cold.
Products You Should Avoid Using
Some people wonder if they can clean their hamsters with dry shampoo or baby wipes. Both of these are not safe ways to groom these pets.
Both of them have chemicals in them that are safe for people but not for hamsters.
They can irritate the skin and even cause rashes, which can make the hamster scratch at the spots that hurt. If your hamster has long fur, it might be hard to tell at first glance if this is bothering it.
How to Safely Bathe Your Hamster
There are times when you have no choice but to give your hamster a bath. If your hamster got into something poisonous, giving it a bath is the best way to manage the risk.
When you take a bath, you don’t fill up your sink and throw your hamster in. Even though most hamsters can swim, they don’t like to.
You can either wrap your hamster in a wet cloth or brush it with a wet toothbrush to give it a bath.
If you use a wet cloth, you should make sure to rub it over the hamster’s fur. This should move any messes out of the way. With a toothbrush, you can focus on the dirty spots you can see.
If you have to wash your hamster, try to keep it as dry as possible. This keeps the natural oils that protect them. To clean them, you only need water. Don’t use dish soap, shampoo, or conditioner.
The same goes for making sure your hamster is dry. Before they can go back into their cage, they have to be completely dry.
If they get even a little bit wet, they could get sick and even die. As we’ve already said, you can either let your hamster dry naturally or use a dry cloth.
Never put them near a heater or other heat source or use a hairdryer on them.
How to Keep Your Hamster Clean
In spite of what most people think, hamsters are very clean animals. They like to be clean and live in a clean place where they can burrow, roll around, and play.
Almost all of the responsibility for keeping the pet and its environment clean falls on the owner. Routine Care and maintenance of the cage is the most important thing to do to keep hamsters clean and healthy for their whole lives.
Most of the time, your hamster will clean itself, but you can help in the following ways:
- Every week, clean your hamster’s cage. Find out how often to clean a hamster’s cage in our guide.
- Every day, you should throw out the trash.
- Keep an eye on your hamster’s cage at all times. If you see them making trash and you’re too close to it, you might decide to clean it up yourself.
- Keep your hamster away from anything that could hurt it. Some examples are gum, paint, nail polish, and some foods. This will mean that you won’t have to bathe your hamster as often.
- Unless it’s necessary, reduce handling.
While you can bathe your hamster in water, as we’ve mentioned, this is reserved for worst-case scenarios only.
If your hamster has not gotten into toxic substances, then try a sand bath, brushing, trimming, or even spot cleaning first.
Above all else, don’t forget that your hamster knows how to keep themselves clean. Leaving your pet to their natural grooming process and keeping them dry is best for their health.