Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Hamsters > Can Hamsters Drink Out of a Bowl? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Tips

Can Hamsters Drink Out of a Bowl? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Tips

hamster drinking from water bowl

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Hamsters, those adorable and tiny creatures that bring joy to countless households, require proper care to thrive. Among the various aspects of their care routine, providing water is a top priority.

While many hamster owners are familiar with using water bottles, you might wonder if hamsters can drink out of a bowl, too. Well, the answer is that a water bottle is a much better option. While hamsters can physically drink from a bowl, it is too easily contaminated and spilled. In some cases, a water bowl could even be unhealthy or dangerous.


Why Water Bowls Are Not the Best Choice for Hamsters

While water bowls replicate the way hamsters would drink in the wild, they are not the best choice for domestic hamsters.

First, water bowls tend to get dirty more quickly due to bedding and debris, increasing the risk of bacterial growth and potential health issues for your hamster.

Secondly, your pet may accidentally fall in or may choose to sit in and poop in the bowl. If the water is too deep, they could drown.

Lastly, if they are drinking water that is contaminated with bedding and other debris, they are at risk of cheek pouch disease because the debris gets stuck in there and causes infection. Debris in the mouth can irritate your hamster so much that they flip their cheek pouches inside out through the mouth, leading to a painful condition known as everted cheek pouches.

Water Bottle Pros and Cons

hamster drinking
Image Credit: JessicaGirvan, Shutterstock

Water bottles are a common choice for hamster owners and are recommended by veterinarians and the ASPCA. They are convenient and help keep the water clean and free from bedding and debris. One of the major advantages of water bottles is that they reduce the risk of contamination, ensuring your hamster drinks clean water every time.

However, some hamsters might take time to get used to using a water bottle, and there have been cases of bottles malfunctioning or leaking. Sometimes, hamsters will develop overgrown incisor teeth, which makes it difficult for them to use their water bottles; in this case, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.

Check the nozzle of the water bottle daily for any blockages. Make sure the bottle is full and not leaking. Cleaning once a week with soap and water is sufficient.


The 5 Safety Tips for Using a Water Bowl

There may be some circumstances where you need to use a water bowl in a pinch. Your bottle may be malfunctioning, or maybe your pet has not yet been trained to use a water bottle, so we’ll give you some tips on the best way to use water bowls for hamsters anyway.

Clean hamster cage with water and food bowls
Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

1. Choose the Right Bowl

Opt for a heavy, sturdy bowl that is difficult for your hamster to tip over. Ceramic bowls are best. You also want to choose the best size of bowl for your hamster to avoid any mess in their area. It should be shallow in case your hamster decides to climb in.

2. Regular Cleaning

Unlike water bottles, water in water bowls is exposed, leading to contamination. Clean the bowl and change the water daily to avoid ingestion of bedding and poop. Check it as often as possible and remove any debris in the bowl.

3. Placement

Position the water bowl away from the hamster’s bedding and food to minimize the chances of it getting soiled quickly. This also reduces the amount of bedding contaminating the water.

4. Observe Your Hamster

Pay attention to how your hamster interacts with the bowl. If they tip it over excessively or use it to store food or bathe, replace it with a water bottle as soon as possible.

5. Offer Multiple Water Sources

Multiple bowls will give your hamster a source of fresh clean water if one becomes contaminated.

hamster drinking water in a cage
Image Credit: Sukpaiboonwat, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Providing proper hydration is crucial for your hamster’s well-being. Water bottles are preferable over water bowls because hamsters easily contaminate water bowls. Their cheek pouches are susceptible to accumulating debris, which can lead to painful infection or cheek pouch eversion. Hamsters need to be trained to use the water bottle, and dental problems may make it difficult for them to drink. Sometimes bowls do need to be used short term, but make sure the water offered is clean and fresh.

Featured Image Credit: Kinga P, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets