When I first got my Teddy I didn’t really know he should never get wet. I saw no reason to give him a bath, but I didn’t know the main 2 reasons for not getting a hamster wet.
So, here I am with what I’ve learned, to help you take the best care for your hammy. I’ll also cover what to do in case your hamster did get wet, if this ever happens.
So why can’t hamsters get wet ?
The main reason hamsters should never get wet is because their bodies can’t stand the sudden shift in temperature. The thermal shock of wet fur will send your hamster right into shiver territory.
This is not good since hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and develop hypothermia easily, even if the room they got wet in is warm.
The secondary reason your hammy should never get warm is because there is absolutely no need, ever, for him to be wet. Hamsters are very clean animals, and they comb through their fur several times per day, much like a cat.
There’s videos going around with hammies getting a bath, and you should always look at the immense dislike rates on those videos. A hamster getting a bath isn’t healthy for him at all, and you should never get your hamster wet.
If you’ve never had a hamster before, this might all seem very odd to you. But let’s go through those 2 reasons, and see in more detail why your hammy should always stay dry.
Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature shifts
Hammies are very sensitive creatures. They are easy to scare, and they’re always alert, and you might even scare them by just getting up.
This constant alertness and sort of built-in anxiety will make the hamster have an even harder time if he gets wet. You see, a wet hamster is not used to being wet, so he will panic. Hamsters are terrible stress-managers, and can develop a series of illnesses because they get so stressed.
Combine that with how easy it is for hammies to get too cold if their fur can’t insulate them – and you’ve got an emergency trip to the vet on your hands.
A hamster’s fur is very wooly, and it has a lot of shorter, very very fine strands of fur that keep the hamster very warm. They are very close to the body, and if those get wet, they lose their insulation power. Worse still, they will keep the hamster wet, so he will get cold faster.
If you want to know more about just how sensitive hamsters are to temperature, you need to read this. You’ll find out the right temp range for your furry friend, and what to do if he gets too cold.
It’s never a good experience for a hamster to get wet, so you should do your very best to make sure he can’t ever get close to a situation like that. I’ll cover that in another part of this article.
Hamsters are very clean animals
Hamsters never need a bath, because they’re taking a shower about a third of their waking time. Seriously, I’ve seen my Teddy clean and preen himself almost as often as I’ve seen him eating.
Now, since hamsters are awake mostly at night, when you’re usually asleep, you might not know this. Understandable, and many people don’t know that; it’s okay.
But, hamsters are very clean, the only thing about them that ever smells is their pee corner – more on that here, and what you can do about it.
This means that there is never a reason to wash or bathe the hamster, as you would a dog. A dog is meant to be able to wade through water, even swim. Dog fur has a lot of water repellent strands, and so it can handle being wet.
But a hamster is not meant for that. Not only does a hamster not get dirty as other pets, he does not need any help cleaning himself.
Another thing about hamster fur, is that it’s got natural oils that help keep the hamster clean. If you’re bathing your hamster, and especially if you’re using a washing liquid on him, your’re stripping the oils from his fur, the worst part is, those oils never come back.
So your hamster’s fur will never look the same, and won’t do its job as well either.
How to make sure your hamster never gets wet
Keeping your hamster dry is the first step to keeping your hamster healthy, and free from stress-related issues. There’s a few things to keep in mind, and I’ll help you out here with what I’ve learned.
Always use a water bottle
This is mostly because your hamster can and will trip over a water bowl, and give himself an accidental bath. Hamster’s aren’t very aware of their surroundings from that point of view, and will chew and pull at everything possible. If it’s not nailed down, it’s fair game.
So you can imagine what trouble a water bowl would cause in your hamster’s cage. The bedding can get wet, and can develop moldy spots, which are a serious concern for your hamster.
His nose is always on the ground, so he’d be inhaling those spores constantly. For more info on how to give your hamster water, and how to care for his water bottle, check out this article.
Be careful what kind of bedding your get your hamster
The bedding your hamster lives on is important, since it can be a huge health concern if it’s not a good one. So, best to go here to know which bedding types are safe for your hamster friend, and which are not.
A very important thing about bedding, and nesting material, is that it can trap moisture. So it’s important to change it about once a week, to keep your hammy’s cage clean and not funky-smelling.
Here’s more info on how to properly change the hamster’s bedding and care for his cage.
And here’s more info on what can get smelly in a hamster’s cage, so you know what to look for when you’re cleaning his cage.
The hideout matters a lot, it can trap moisture
The hideout your hamster lives in is going to determine a large part of his health. A plastic hideout can and will trap moisture. A few times I even found condensation in my Teddy’s hideout when he had the plastic one.
His nesting material got a bit moist too, and it was not pee. A moist nest is a cold nest, so it’s best to avoid that.
The best way yo make sure your hamster’s nest is always dry and clean is to get him a wooden hideout. Wood is a very breatheable kind of material, and will absorb and expel moisture. My Teddy’s hideout has a few spots in the roof where the air can get in and out, and a lot of ‘doors’ to allow a lot of air.
Actually, it’s best if you read on here more about what to look for when you get your hammy a hideout, and how to care for it as well.
Never handle the hamster far from his cage
When you do play with your hamster friend outside of his cage, make sure you’re not far from it. If possible, try playing with his in his cage. Or play with your hammy over his cage.
If he does jump out of your hands, he will land on the bedding, and in the cage safely – more on that here. And if he falls he won;t have any body of water to splash into.
This also means that you should keep your hamster and his cage away from any sources of water, like the tap. And not placing glasses of water, or a vase or anything that can hold water close to the hamster’s cage.
Children or other pets should always be supervised around a hamster
If you’ve got small children (under 12 years old), or other pets that can move around on their own, make sure they can’t harm the hamster.
It’s easy for a child to see if a hamster can swim while you go to grab the mail, or for a dog to kick over a water bowl over the hamster’s cage.
These things happen, and it’s a normal part of having pets and/or small children. So always make sure you supervise any interaction with the hamster, especially if it involved actually picking up the hamster.
Hamsters are in fact good pets, but they’re very sensitive to a lot of things, and need a whole lot of patience – you can find out more about that here.
So unless you’re sure you can provide your hammy a safe home, you might do better with a different type of pet.
(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)
How to dry a wet hamster
If your hamster did manage to get wet, one way or another, you’re going to need to be very careful drying him. There’s a few steps you should take to make sure your hamster stays safe during the drying process.
Move the hamster to an overly warm room
The ambient temperature will need to be much above what the hamster can handle when dry. So if your hammy needs usually around 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit when he is dry, he will need around 30 C/86 F in the room when he is soaking wet and needs to dry.
This is to compensate for how cold it will seem for the hamster when he’s wet. If you’ve ever walked out of the shower without a towel, into a room that was nice and cozy before your shower, you’ll know what I mean.
Once your hamster’s beginning to dry, lower the temperature slowly back to 20-23 C/68-75 F.
Use lot and lots of paper towels
Your hamster will probably be too all over the place to let you hold him. So place him in a box lined with lots and lots of paper towels, that will soak up all the water from his fur.
So not use toilet paper, since that will disintegrate very fast and stick to your hammy’s wet fur.
Change the paper towels as often as possible since your hammy will be rolling in the a lot, and shaking the water of like a puppy.
You can also use a clean dry cotton cloth, or even a towel, but be warned that your hamster might try to put some corners in his cheeks. Hamsters are attracted to everything soft and fluffy, to try and build a nest out of it.
Try to hold him in a dry, clean cotton cloth
You can try holding your hamster in your hands, and giving him a gentle wipe down. You won’t be able to wipe off all the water, but you can get most of it. The point is that you’re helping your hammy out, even just a little.
He might be very wriggly, and not want to stay put. That’s understandable, just wipe him down as best and as much as you can.
If you notice your hammy getting too anxious, and getting ready to jump out of your hands, place him in the box I mentioned earlier.
Do not use direct heat on the hamster
As tempting as it may sound, so not put your hamster on the heater or use a blow dryer. They are both too hot for the hammy, and the dryer will make your hammy irritated and even more scared.
Raise the ambient temperature until your hamster is nearly completely dry. Then, you can place the hamster in a box liked with lots of bedding, and a thick towel under the box to disperse heat.
A word from Teddy
I hope you know how to help your hammy if he gets wet now. We don’t really like being wet, we aren’t meant to swim or stay in the rain. So never give one of us a bath, and make sure you spread the word !
You can check out the articles below for more info on us hammies, and how to take care of us the right way. Like what we can eat, what kind of cage we need, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you.