Can Hamsters Swim? Or Should You Keep Them Away From Water?

can hamsters swim

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Hamsters are capable of swimming, but they do not enjoy it. Getting wet can even cause them serious distress and even hurt their health. In water, a hamster can keep itself afloat, but it will be in a state of desperation and fear. Getting a hamster wet is both unkind and a serious health risk. Instead, give your hamster a sand bath. Or, play a game to help them stay active. 

Can hamsters swim? Hamsters are not often seen swimming as they live in hot desert conditions. There is no need for them to swim in the wild and they don’t even clean themselves with water. So, to answer your question. Yes, Hamsters can swim but it’s not good for them.

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Why Shouldn’t Hamsters Get Wet?


Hamsters do not like drastic changes. They are very sensitive. As it turns out, for a hamster, getting wet is just plain unnatural. The emotional distress from it alone can send them into shock… a dangerous condition that on its own can prove fatal.

Even if your hamster does survive, they will not be happy, or calm. In truth, getting your hamster wet is fairly inhumane. 

Weakened Immune System

The emotional distress that a wet hamster undergoes will cause their immune system to weaken. This can affect hamsters long-term, and make them more prone to illness overall. 

Clearly, you should be helping strengthen their delicate immune system, not compromising it unnecessarily. 

Removes Good Natural Oils

In order to stay warm, hamsters produce oil in their fur. This helps the locks repel water and keeps them lush and thick. When a hamster gets wet, it removes this oil. This causes their hair to become thin and dull. Their coat will no longer properly retain warmth. Hamsters need their good natural hair oil. 

Your Hamster Can Develop a Cold or Even Pneumonia

When a tiny hamster becomes chilly, it can quickly become sick. Getting them wet will cause an effect similar to when we sweat: it will cause their body to cool. In no time, the hamster is sure to catch a cold or even pneumonia from the chill. 

Even once they are dry, the hamster will continue to suffer from the cold due to a decrease in fur oil as well. 

Hamsters Come From a Dry Climate

Did you know that hamsters originally come from the desert? The first of these pets came from Syria. This means that they are naturally accustomed to a dry, hot climate. They are quick to find shelter when there is a rare desert rainfall. 

Can Hamsters Swim? Or Should You Keep Them Away From Water? 1

So, you can probably see how dunking a hamster in water would be a bit unnatural. Hamsters have no innate instinct to enjoy getting wet or swimming, despite the fact that they can, technically, swim. The only time they get soaked is in a flood or another dangerous event in nature. 

This means that, in the mind of a hamster, when they are swimming, they are swimming for their life! This is not something they do for leisure. A dousing in water is a quick and sure way to induce a panic attack. 

Hamster Activities that are better than swimming:

● Create a hamster tunnel. In the wild, hamsters have little burrows, tunnels, and dens. Recreating this habitat in captivity is the perfect way to help your hamster feel at home, and keep them active. 

● The classic hamster wheel. You have no doubt heard of the classic hamster wheel. Indeed, these are something that hamsters love! Every hamster should have a good wheel. These are a form of exercise that is readily available. 

● Play a game. Did you know that some hamsters like to play? Give tug-of-war a try. Simply tie a treat (a small serving of fruit of the like) to a string and pull. Your hamster may decide to give chase. Should they capture the treat, continue to pull it away gently. Eventually, let them win. 

● Let your hamster explore. A hamster should not be kept in its cage all of the time! Carefully hamster-proof your room and let them free for a (closely-monitored) adventure. 

● Hide treats for your hamster to seek. In the wild, hamsters forage for their food. They find searching for food stimulating, and good fun. 

hamster bathing

Hamster Hygiene 

Like most rodents, hamsters are actually very tidy. The little critters groom both themselves and each other. They also keep their nest (or cage) clean as best as they can. Lots of hamsters are litter-trained, preferring to keep waste in one area. This is a lovely attribute for a pet to have! 

You will not have to do much for your hamster directly as far as hygiene. Spot-cleaning them is seldom necessary, and they will never require a bath (at least, not a water bath). In fact, most things of this sort that you do will simply interfere. 

The best way to help your hamster with hygiene is to create a clean environment, fresh food, clean bedding, and so on. You can also treat them to a sand bath, to further remove any odor and grime and leave them good-as-new. 

Give Your Hamster A Sand Bath!

Hamsters have many habits that are quite adorable. One of these is their love of bathing in the sand; they use the absorbant quality and abrasive nature of the material to eliminate odor and grime alike. 

What is A Sand Bath? 

A sand bath is a small area filled with special bathing sand, for a hamster (or another sandbath-loving animal) to use at their pleasure. Some people choose to have the sandbath constantly available. Others provide sand baths as a treat and remove the bath from the cage once their hamster is done. Otherwise, some hamsters will later mistake the sand bath for another litter box. 

How to Make Your Hamster a Sand Bath

Making your hamster a sand bath is quite simple and rather fun. First off, you will need a bowl. 

Sand Bath Bowl Click here for prices on Amazon

This bowl should be rounded, without corners in which a hamster could get stuck. The bowl should also be heavy enough not to get knocked over, and deep enough that the sand will not spill. The best choice is a sturdy, chew-proof ceramic bowl. 

Bathing Sand For the Bowl Click here for prices on Amazon

Next, you will need the bathing sand. You can purchase this online or at your local pet store. Purchase one of at least middling-quality, to prevent dust and the like. Be sure to pick bathing sand, and not bathing dust, as this is not the same. Bathing dust can otherwise cause respiratory problems in hamsters when they bathe. 

Bath hideout – Click here for prices on Amazon

Whilst taking a sand bath hamsters love to hide and play in little hideaways. We like soft ceramic types that will not hurt or harm them when they jump and run around inside them.

hamster hideout
Hamster Hideout Available
On Amazon Here!

Offer Your Hamster A Pleasant Bath 

Once you have picked out the proper bathing sand, you can fill up the bowl. Introduce this to your hamster, and they will likely catch on right away. Unlike water, for hamsters, bathing in the sand is intuitive. Rather than traumatizing them, as getting wet does, it will allow them to relax. 

Helping Your Hamster House Keep

Change Bedding Regularly 

Your hamster will need bedding both for comfort, and hygiene. Proper bedding will provide them with a cozy place to sleep and burrow. The bedding will also absorb accidental spills, such as water or urine, as well as odors in general. This means that you will need to change the bedding out frequently. Bedding should be changed out as much as every other day, and at least a few times a week. For quality bedding, consider wood shavings or straw. 

Remove Food That is No Longer Fresh 

Sometimes hamsters will hoard food in their bedding or den. They will not always eat all of the treats you offer them. This means there will be scraps, which can go rotten quickly. To prevent this, have a food cleanup after each hamster snack or meal. 

old hamster eating bananas
This old boy loves his Banana slices

Provide a Litter Box 

Many hamsters are happy to be litter-trained, and will gladly use a box. This will considerably reduce the amount of waste elsewhere. The most absorbent and allergen-free litter box options are aspen wood shavings and straw. 

Replace Old or Dirty Furniture 

As you probably know, hamsters love to chew! This results in damage to chewable items that is inevitable. The most important items in the cage should be chew-proof. You can, however, allow your hamster to chew special woodblocks, homemade hamster houses and tunnels, and the like. What with all of the chewing, these will require replacement over time. Reducing clutter like this will help keep the cage clean overall. 

Best Hamster & Gerbil Chew Toys here!

Conclusion: Can Hamsters Swim?

As you can see, having your hamster swim, or getting them wet to any degree, is not a good idea. As best, they will receive a nasty shock. At worst, they may become sick, and this can even prove fatal. 

Prevent your hamster from getting wet by giving them a water bottle rather than a bowl. Do not bathe them in water, even if they become dirty. Instead, opt for a sand bath. This is an alternative that they will enjoy and which is perfectly safe. 

There are also much better ways for your hamster to have fun. Play a game, hide some treats, or let them out to explore. There is no need for a swim when it comes to keeping your hamster clean and active

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