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Can Hamsters Swim (and Do They Enjoy It?)

Ed Malaker

Hamsters make great pets, and they are often the first pet of a child. These small animals usually grow to about 6 inches and are native to a small area in Syria. Since these animals live in such a warm and dry environment, many people wonder if they know how to swim. The short answer is yes. Your hamster will be able to swim if it encounters water. However, there are several considerations before you should add a small swimming area in your hamster’s cage. Keep reading while we discuss the safety risks of swimming as well as try to determine if they like it to help you learn more about your pet.

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Can Hamsters Swim?

As we mentioned, pet hamsters are a captive-bred version of Syrian hamsters caught in the wild. Their habitat is quite dry, and the average hamster will not see much water in the wild, especially large bodies of water they can swim in. It’s likely that if the hamster did find water, it would avoid it except to take a drink. However, if it were to fall into the water from a tree branch or something similar, it should be able to swim to shore if it’s not far. They don’t have webbed feet or any specializations for swimming, so they may struggle to tread water, especially at first.

Do Hamsters Like Swimming?

a hamster on countertop
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Your hamster is a type of rodent, and as a general rule, they don’t like water. However, each hamster is unique, and it is not uncommon to find a hamster that seems to enjoy the water. There is no sure way to tell if your pet likes being in the water. All you can do is observe it closely to see if it shows any signs of distress. We recommend learning your pet’s behavior for several weeks until you can tell when your pet feels anxious and upset before attempting to let it go swimming.

Where Should I Let My Pet Swim?

The best way to introduce your hamster to swimming is to use the bathtub. Most tubs allow the water to get shallower toward the back so your pet can safely ease into deeper waters if it feels comfortable, and the water will need to be quite warm but not hot. You will need to watch your pet closely for signs of distress and to make sure it doesn’t get into water that is too deep. Try to keep it away from the sides because it can fall, landing the hamster in the water if it tries to climb the slippery surface.

Do Hamsters Take Baths?

hamster_IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock
Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

Since we were talking about the bathtub, you might be wondering if swimming is a good time to bathe your pet. The short answer is no. Most hamsters take a dry sand bath, and there are many brands of commercial bathing sand available that you can use. If you don’t want to use sand, holding the hamster in your hand and using a damp rag and soapy water is a good way to get your pet clean.

Reasons Why You Should Not Get Your Hamster Wet

  • If your hamster gets wet, it can cause extreme anxiety, leading to other health problems.
  • Putting your hamster in water, especially warm water, can strip the skin and coat of important oils. The lack of oils can make it harder for your pet to regulate its body temperature, and it will leave the skin dry and itchy, leading to rashes and other problems.
  • Putting your hamster in water, especially cold water, can cause its body temperature to drop, leading to hypothermia. Coldwater can also cause your hamster to catch a cold or other illness that can be potentially life-threatening.

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Summary

While your hamster is likely able to swim short distances, only a few of them like it, and there are some potential risks to getting your pet wet. Unless your pet is begging to go for a swim, we recommend more traditional hamster activities like tunnels, toys, and the exercise wheel. Allowing your pet some time out of the cage to explore your home is one of its favorite activities, and it will help them get the exercise they need, so they are less likely to keep you up at night running on the wheel or digging in their cage.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has answered your questions. If you like exploring new activities to do with your pet, please share our look into if hamsters can swim and if they enjoy it on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Marcela Arrubla, Pixabay

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.