What is that on your hamster? Likely, it is a clump of poop, old food, or shavings that have gotten stuck in its fur. These sights are quite common for hamster owners. Seeing your hamster with grossness stuck to it might leave you tempted to try and give it a bath. But hamsters do not need baths as people do. Not ever. Still, the thought might linger in the back of your mind.
Hamster baths should only be given in extreme circumstances under express orders from a veterinarian. If you must bathe your hamster, you can do it at home in these seven steps.
Preparation: Get Your Vet’s Approval
Hamsters never need water baths at home on their own. Ever. Do not bathe your hamster unless expressly told to by your veterinarian. Most of the time, hamsters have to see a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets for the best care. If you have not been told by your vet to give your hamster a bath, stop. Do not proceed any further.
On the rare occasion that your vet does prescribe a bath, you must take extreme care in bathing your hamster. Follow these steps carefully to ensure that your hamster safely emerges clean, warm, and dry after its bath.
The 7 Steps to Give Your Hamster a Bath:
1. Fill Container With Warm Water
Choose a small container that will hold your hamster but isn’t too big. You want it to have sides so the hamster can’t escape, but you do not want it to be too big for you to adequately handle your hamster. Most people suggest using a small plastic container to do the job.
Fill the container with warm water. Make sure the water is not scalding but also make sure that it is not cold. Cold water can shock your hamster and cause hypothermia.
You should never wash your hamster in a sink or tub. Always wash your hamster in a small, appropriately sized container.
2. Place Your Hamster In The Bath
Next, gently place your hamster into the bath. Make sure that the water does not reach higher than your hamster’s shoulders. Hamsters are not known to be good swimmers. Do not make the water any higher than the shoulder. If you need to, dump some of the water out and check the temperature again if it is too deep.
Your hammy might get scared when it is put in the water. This is a normal reaction. Make sure no water is getting in the hamster’s eyes or nose.
3. Use Hamster Friendly Soap
If you have been asked to bathe your hamster by the vet, they should have also either provided or suggested a hamster-friendly soap. Do not use any regular soap on your tiny little guy. Make sure you are using the proper cleaning supplies for your hamster.
If you are not sure about what kind of soap to use with your hamster, call and ask your vet before proceeding.
4. Wash and Rinse Hamster
Gently wash your hamster with the prescribed soap with a warm damp rag. Wash with the fur, as if you are petting the hamster, as not to upset it. Be very gentle while washing the animal. They are small and can be easily injured. Wash with the fur until clean.
Rinse the hamster with warm water. Do not rinse with cold water. Again, make sure the water is not scalding or too cold before rinsing.
5. Keep Hamster Warm
Throughout the process, it is important to keep your hamster warm. The best way to achieve this is to use warm water while bathing the hamster. It is also advised to wash your hamster in a warm enclosed room like a bathroom.
The biggest danger to your hamster during a bath isn’t drowning. It is hypothermia. Hamsters are not used to being wet.
6. Dry Hamster
After you are done bathing your hamster, it is time to dry it. Use a hand towel and gently dry your hamster all over. Do not pinch or squeeze or grab your hamster. Being gentle is essential. But the hamster must be dried. Do not return your hamster to its enclosure without making sure it is completely dry.
Dry your hamster until it is no longer wet. Make sure to keep your hamster warm and cozy throughout this process. It is important.
7. Return Hamster To Enclosure
Finally, once you are sure that your hamster is completely dry, return it to its enclosure. It is a good idea to put the hamster back into a clean environment after a bath, so you might need to change the bedding before putting it back.
Keep an eye on your hamster for the next hour to make sure that it is not behaving strangely. Look for signs of shivering, lethargy, or injury.
If your hamster seems happy to be home and acting normal then you are finished. Good job.
Do Hamsters Need Regular Baths?
No. Hamsters never need to be bathed in the traditional sense. If you do not take your hamster to the vet and if your hamster is happy and healthy, there is no need to ever wash them. Hamsters are not like people. They don’t need regular showers to remain clean and healthy. In fact, bathing hamsters can be dangerous and even lead to death if you do not do it properly. That is why it is only prescribed under very specific circumstances by professional veterinarians.
What Kind of Baths Do Hamsters Enjoy Naturally?
In the wild, hamsters never bathe in water. They do, however, enjoy a good sand bath. Hamsters and other similar species love to roll around in fine dust to keep their coats clean and healthy. While that might not sound very appealing to humans, it is great for hamsters.
If you are worried that your hamster needs a bath, but you have not been told to give them a water bath by your vet, you can provide them a dust bath to enjoy.
Can You Clean Your Hamster Without Bathing It?
Yes. In fact, washing a hamster’s butt is a common action. However, most of the time a hamster never needs a full bath. Cutting away matted bedding or poop that gets stuck to your hamster is completely safe. Even using a damp rag or wipe to get some gunk off of its behind is great too. None of those things requires your hamster to be placed into water.
If you absolutely must bathe your hamster, you can do it in these seven simple steps. Just be sure to use extreme caution when doing so and consult your vet if you have any questions or concerns. If you haven’t been told to bathe your hamster, consider trimming its fur or providing a dust bath instead. They will be much happier with that decision than a true bath with water.
Featured Image Credit: Alex Milan, Shutterstock