Can hamsters swim?
A hamster’s ability to swim or need for a bath is most likely not on your mind when you get one.
Nonetheless, it’s definitely something you’ll need to learn more about at some point during your furry friend’s life.
So, read on to find out everything you need to know about hamsters and exactly how they feel about water.
READ MORE: Do Hamsters Go Into Heat?
Table of Contents
Can Hamsters Swim?
The short answer is yes, they are physically able to do so, but they don’t necessarily like it. Now let’s look at the long answer.
Given the sheer popularity of these pets, it makes sense that there are a ton of hamster-and-water-related queries flooding the internet.
These include “do hamsters need baths?”, “Can hamsters take baths in water? If not, how can I give my hamster a bath?” and more. But what seems to be the most prevalent query is simply “Can Hamsters Swim?”
How you care for hamsters depends heavily on what breed you choose to adopt.
Be it wild hamsters, Syrian hamsters, or even dwarf hamsters, water isn’t really their forte. It simply doesn’t appeal to them that much.
Similar to other mammals, on paper, hamsters can swim. But that might turn out to be very detrimental for your pet.
First, hamsters aren’t a fan of water. Secondly, being in water messes with their mental health since it can result in stress.
So if you’re asking because you’re thinking about buying a pint-sized pool for your furry friend, the answer is really a solid “no.” What about baths, though? Let’s discuss that next.
READ MORE: Why Do Hamsters Run on Wheels?
Can Hamsters Take Baths in Water?
Hamsters, in general, do not really require water baths regularly, as opposed to other types of pets.
Like cats, these intelligent animals are clean animals that are perfectly capable of grooming themselves without water.
In fact, giving your hamster a water bath may do more harm than good. By doing so, you may remove vital molecules that your hamster’s coat requires.
Experts suggest that you should only bathe hamsters with water only under two circumstances.
- If something is preventing them from grooming themselves at all or doing so safely. Illness or injury, for example, or getting something on their coat that could harm them if they clean it off themselves.
- To remove something that is stuck on their coat that they cannot remove on their own.
In such cases, a water bath is crucial to get rid of the hazardous substance. Beyond that, though, there’s really no good reason to bathe your furry friend. Let’s talk more about why.
Check: Hamster Teeth Care
Why Don’t Hamsters Like to Get Wet?
There are a variety of reasons why your hamster should probably stay clear of bodies of water. We’ve listed a few of those reasons down below.
Mental and Emotional Stress
Forget hamsters; even we humans do not like monumental changes. We love to stay in our little bubble of comfort.
The same holds true for hamsters. They don’t really appreciate changes that are forceful and drastic in nature (who does?).
Believe it or not, it’s quite unnatural for hamsters to get wet. It can cause them immense stress.
So much so that the incident can result in a state of mental and emotional shock. And that can very well prove detrimental for your cute hamster.
Removes Essential Natural Oils
In your quest to keep your hamster clean, you may end up causing harm to your pet’s coat.
In their fur, these rodents are capable of producing essential oils to keep themselves warm during the cold seasons. These oils that assist hamsters in keeping their locks thick and lush also help them repel water.
Thus, wetting your hamster’s coat gets rid of essential oils. Besides that, the fur becomes dull and thin.
Most importantly, the coat will no longer be able to keep the hamster warm. Moreover, these rodents require the oils they produce naturally.
Negatively Impacts the Immune System
As mentioned earlier, getting wet can cause your hamster to undergo immense emotional stress. As we know, stress wreaks havoc on the immune system.
By bathing your pal, you could actually make him more susceptible to a variety of diseases. Overall, it’s bad news for your hamster in the long run.
Okay, so now that I’ve drilled in all of the reasons to keep your rodent pal out of the water, you’re probably left wondering “well, then, how do I give him a bath if he REALLY needs it???” Let’s discuss.
How to Give a Hamster a Bath
There are two ways to give a hamster a bath without water. Let’s start with the easiest.
Over time, since your hamster uses shredded paper and other such items to make their bed, its coat will get dirty. So cleaning is necessary if you don’t want feces and dirt particles calling your hamster their home.
For spots where the hamster cannot reach by itself, use waterless shampoo and wipe your pet using soft clothing items. Also, make sure that the shampoo doesn’t get into its mouth or eyes.
Dust or Sand Baths
If you’re someone who’s owned chinchillas in the past, you might already be familiar with dust or sand baths. But among pet owners who have hamsters, it’s pretty unheard of.
The dust or sand is able to absorb dirt from a chinchilla’s fur. In this way, this type of bath helps in the healthy maintenance of their coat.
Besides that, the experience of taking a dust or sand bath is itself quite enjoyable for them.
In a similar fashion, it’s essential that you provide a dust or sand bath to your hamster. A dust or sand bath offers an alternate method to keep your hamster clean. It’s efficient and safe.
At the same time, experts recommend sand baths. That’s because there are cases of hamsters developing issues with their respiratory system in the case of dust baths.
Take a look at this video:
Alternative Activities to Swimming for Hamsters
There are many other activities that you can offer your hamsters instead of swimming. Below are a few of them that we recommend:
1. Create a hamster tunnel.
In the wild, hamsters will spend a lot of their time in the ground burrowing and making tunnels. You can do the same and recreate the environment so they’ll feel at home and will keep them active.
2. Use a hamster wheel.
This is a classic and all hamsters will love it. Place one in their cage and they will start exercising on. This will keep them busy for hours.
3. Allow the hamster to explore.
Hamsters that get locked in their cage for a long time will start to get stressed. Every day, for a few hours, you should let the hamster out and explore. Make sure the area that they’ll be allowed to roam is hamster-proof.
Also, if you have a cat in the house, be sure to keep them away from the hamster. Even though cats are domesticated, the hamster is still a tasty treat for them.
4. Play a game with your hamster.
A hamster is a curious creature that likes to roam and discover new things. You can play a game by hiding a treat from them. In the wild, hamsters forage for food all day long.
Playing this game of hiding the treat from them, will help stimulate their mind and keep them active.
Hamsters express themselves through various vocalizations and noises. To better understand and respond to your pet’s needs, it’s important to know what these noises mean. Get the answers you seek by reading ‘why is my hamster making noises‘ and deepen your bond with your furry friend.
Should I let my hamster swim?
The answer is no; you shouldn’t. The natural habitat for hamsters is dry places.
When placed in water, your hamster will become stressed and will try to escape. Making them swim can put your hamster in a stressful situation, and they may drown as a result.
Will a hamster die if you get it wet?
While it’s unlikely that a little water will kill your hamster, yes, it could still happen. Hamsters are extremely sensitive to sudden fluctuations in body temperature. If your hamster’s fur gets wet, the thermal shock might cause hypothermia.
Are hamsters scared of water?
When it comes to water, hamsters have a natural aversion. Both wild hamsters and pet hamsters are clean animals that have the innate ability to clean themselves. By forcing hamsters in water, it places your hamster under a great deal of strain.
So, do hamsters swim? Yes, they certainly can! However, it’s also not something they’re very fond of doing either.
They might get away with just an unpleasant shock. But it might also lead to serious illness and even death.
But aside from that, there are plenty of different ways for your pet hamster to enjoy itself.
If you wish to keep your hamster active and clean, it doesn’t require a swim. Try playing a game, hiding a few snacks, or letting it roam around the house.
Did you ever give your hamster a bath? Does he like the bath or not? Please tell us in the comments below!
- Petco. 2021. “How to Properly Clean Your Hamster and Hamster Cage.” Petco.com. Petco. September 8, 2021. https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/home-habitat/how-to-clean-your-hamster-and-her-habitat.html?irgwc=1&irclickid=SQKxpIxMrxyIRh%3AyY4X8ZS%3AyUkBQ%3AKVx0wXU280&cm_mmc=AFF%7CIMP%7CCCY%7CCCO%7CPM%7C0%7CrBfYNcTb52ivxnPcri3CBm%7C2003851%7C657755%7C0%7C0.
- PetMD Editorial. 2016. “How to Give Your Hamster a Bath.” Petmd.com. PetMD. February 16, 2016. https://www.petmd.com/exotic/care/evr_ex_hm_how-to-give-your-hamster-a-bath.
Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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