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Home > Hamsters > Can Hamsters Swim? Vet-Reviewed Grooming Facts & Info

Can Hamsters Swim? Vet-Reviewed Grooming Facts & Info

Hamster in the bath tub

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

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

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Hamsters make great pets, and they are often the first pet of a child. Many species of hamsters kept as pets are native to dry, arid environments. This may make one wonder if these pets can swim.

The short answer is yes, hamsters can swim; however, it isn’t something you should encourage, and you shouldn’t offer your pet water baths. In the wild, a hamster will be able to swim at the water’s edge if they have to. But this is not something that this small mammal will seek out to do for enrichment.

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.


Can Hamsters Swim?

All hamsters can swim; however, not all hamsters are equally adept at swimming. Many of the breeds of pet hamsters that are known for their long fur coats are relatively poor swimmers, as their coat may weigh them down excessively when they’re in water.

In the wild, some hamsters (particularly the European hamster, Cricetus cricetus) are considered relatively good swimmers, and they even inflate their massive cheek pouches with air to use as a makeshift raft of sorts when they cross bodies of water.

As pets, there’s no need to bathe your hamster with water or to offer them a swim. It’s a vital skill they possess, but there are some risks with water baths that can adversely affect the health of your pet hamster.

Do Hamsters Like Swimming?

Djungarian dwarf hamster is in the bathing sand in its cage
Image Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

Your hamster is a type of rodent, and as a general rule, they don’t like to be submerged in water. Therefore, there’s no reason to incorporate water baths into your pet hamster’s routine. Though hamsters can swim, it likely isn’t something that they enjoy.

Do Hamsters Take Baths?

Hamsters enjoy dry baths in bathing sand, and there are many brands of commercial bathing sand available that you can use. This is safe for pet hamsters and something you should incorporate into your hamster’s routine.

Reasons Why You Should Bathe Your Hamster With Water

The reason you shouldn’t get your hamster wet is because of their small body surface area, which means that they quickly lose heat if they are wet. This leads to a hamster that’s too cold, and if a hamster is not quickly dried off after an incident of submerging, they struggle to regulate their core body temperature. Therefore, you should only bathe your pet hamster with water if you are instructed to do so by a veterinarian.

In extreme situations, a wet hamster left to their own devices can become extremely sick and perish. A wet hamster will also pick up pieces of their substrate or food onto their fur, making matters worse. If your hamster inadvertently gets wet, you should wrap them in a towel, keep them free of drafts, and gently dry them with the towel until they are no longer wet.


Final Thoughts

Although hamsters can swim to the water’s edge if they had to, it is not an activity they should be doing or be encouraged to do because of the way it can disrupt their thermoregulation.

While your hamster is likely able to swim short distances, there’s no reason to make them swim. This is an instinctive survival skill hamsters possess but nothing that they should be forced to do. There are safer forms of exercise (hamster-safe wheels) and grooming (sand or dust baths) that you can incorporate into your pet’s routine.

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Featured Image Credit: Vladfotograf, Shutterstock

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