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Why is My Hamster Not Drinking Water? What Should I Do?

Hamsters need water to survive and unfortunately, they can forget this from time to time. It’s up to you to make sure that your hamster is getting enough water. You need to check their water bottle daily to make sure there’s no blockage and that your hamster can access it.

Why Isn’t My Hamster Drinking Water?

There is a multitude of reasons your hamster might not be drinking.

  • Your hamster might be adjusting to new surroundings. If you recently brought it home, switched cages, or made some other drastic change to its environment, it might just need time to adjust.
  • Your hamster might be stressed. Check for a change in appetite, an increase in cage-biting, or an increase in aggression.
  • Your hamster might be sick. Check for other signs of illness, such as hair loss, wet tail, or nose/eye discharge. To learn about more signs of disease, consult this comprehensive list of symptoms from PetLifeToday.com.
  • The water bottle might be malfunctioning. You can check for this by pressing your finger against the nozzle and checking for a stream of water.

Now that we’ve covered the potential reasons behind your hamster not drinking water, we’ll talk about some ways you can check their hydration level and encourage them to start hydrating again.

READ MORE: How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?

Check How Dehydrated Your Hamster Is

Once you’ve noticed your hamster isn’t drinking, you need to determine how long this has been going on. If you just noticed it now, they may not have been drinking for a day or more.

Here are a few ways you can check how dehydrated your hamster is.

  • Look at your hamster’s eyes. If they are dull and listless, they’re probably dehydrated.
  • Gently pinch the scruff of your hamster’s neck. If the skin quickly snaps back into its normal position, everything is okay. If the skin holds its shape or moves back to its normal position very slowly, your hamster is dehydrated.
  • Check the water level of your hamster’s bottle or bowl. If it hasn’t changed much since the last time you filled it, your hamster hasn’t been drinking.

Train Your Hamster to Use the Bottle

Younger hamsters may simply be unaware that the bottle strapped to their cage contains an endless stream of refreshing water.

hamster drinking water, train if hamster not drinking water

To give them a little nudge in the right direction, you can place a dollop of peanut butter on the ball of the bottle.

Your hamster should eat the peanut butter, and get a mouthful of water in the process.

If they aren’t interested in the peanut butter, detach the bottle from the cage, pick up your hamster, and attempt to “nurse” them by gently pressing the bottle into their mouth. Then replace the bottle and nudge them over to the nozzle.

Most hamsters with an inkling of a brain should take the hint eventually.

READ MORE: Do Hamsters Have Periods?

Place a Water Bowl in Their Cage

Some hamsters simply don’t like using a bottle. That’s alright, you can accommodate them just fine with a bowl of water instead.

a water bowl in a hamster cage who is not drinking water

I suggest placing the bowl on a raised platform so your hamster doesn’t throw bedding into it as it goes about its day. You should also change the water every day, as there’s always a chance some dirty bedding, feces, or urine has made it inside.

This increased chance of contamination is the primary reason most people use bottles, but a bowl still works if your hamster is steadfastly refusing to use the preferred option.

Give Them Cucumbers and Skinned Apples

a hamster eating skinned apple

If straight water isn’t doing the trick, entice your hamster with some water-heavy fruits. Two of the juiciest options are cucumbers and apples.

Just make sure to skin the apple and remove the seeds before giving it to your friend — neither are good for a hamster to eat.

Wait It Out

Sometimes your hamster is just being weird for no particular reason. Maybe they’re still getting used to new surroundings.

Maybe they just don’t feel like drinking much today. Before you grow too concerned, give your hamster a day or so to come back to its senses before you start considering a veterinary appointment.

Don’t wait too long though. It can only take a few days for your hamster to die of severe dehydration. If your hamster is showing signs of dehydration, it’s best to skip waiting and take immediate action.

I’ve Tried Everything… Now What?

If your hamster still isn’t drinking after trying all of the aforementioned strategies, something is probably wrong. Hamsters, like every other animal, cannot survive without water for more than a few days.

If your hamster hasn’t drunk in over 24 hours, you need to start considering some more drastic measures.

The first thing you should do is nurse your hamster with an eyedropper or syringe. This option is a stopgap measure, but it should keep your hamster somewhat hydrated while you figure out your next move.

Here’s how you do it: every half hour, gently drop 2 drops of liquid into your hamster’s mouth. If you have an electrolyte-rich fluid-like Pedialyte or Gatorade around, use that instead of straight water.

Now that your hamster is receiving a bit of water, it’s time to see an exotic species veterinarian. If you don’t know one, you can ask your local veterinarian if they’re comfortable treating a hamster. If they aren’t, ask them to recommend someone who can help you.

READ MORE: Do Hamsters Swim?

FAQs

Why isn’t my hamster eating?

There are a number of reasons your hamster might not be eating. Your hamster could be too hot, bored of its diet, stressed, has dental issues, or is constipated.

How much does an exotic vet cost?

a hamster at checkup

It depends on the vet and the treatment your hamster will need. Ballpark estimates for a simple office visit can range from $50 to $150. That number will rise if it’s an after-hours emergency visit.

Can hamsters drink water from a bowl?

Yes, hamsters are able to drink from a bowl instead of a water bottle. However, Most people will find a water bottle more convenient.

a hamster drinking water from bottle

Did you ever train your hamster to drink water? Please let us know in the comments section below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

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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