Hamsters are cute, fluffy, lovable rodents, and they have been kept as animals for decades. You might have just got your very own hamster or thinking of getting one.
No matter what’s the case, you may be wondering whether this little rodent is clean or not. Are hamsters clean?
By nature, hamsters are clean animals. They constantly groom themselves to maintain their hygiene and cleanliness. However, there are some times when excessive grooming behavior can be an indication of your hamster having a skin infection or allergies. It could also be because of stress or dandruff.
Now that you can rest assured that these tiny rodents are clean and hygienic animals, you may be wondering whether they clean themselves and how they clean themselves. Keep reading with us to learn everything about hamsters and their grooming techniques!
Do Hamsters Clean Themselves?
Hamsters are one of the cleanest animals. Each day, they spend many hours cleaning and grooming themselves. When a hamster is not sleeping, feeding, or playing, they spend the extra time keeping themselves clean.
In the wild, before hamsters were domesticated, they developed their unique grooming behavior to keep the predators away from them. Because hamsters are so tiny, many animals see them as prey, and they had to develop tactics to avoid attracting these predators.
If they didn’t excessively groom themselves, predators would get the smell of their scent, and they will become prey—animals such as owls, wildcats, and snakes hunt hamsters.
You will notice that your hamster will start its grooming process from its hip area. The unique quality of the hip region is that from there, hamsters secrete a particular scent that spreads to the rest of its body.
As hamsters clean their hip area, it reduces their scent, keeping them safe and sound from predators.
Another reason hamsters have developed their grooming routine is how they live in their natural habitat.
These tiny rodents live underground. Their home and caves consist of many tunnels and nests, so their fur will often get matted with dirt and dust as they move around.
Another reason why hamsters make use of grooming is to function correctly. Grooming is essential to any hamster, and if a hamster suddenly stops grooming itself, you should be worried and contact your vet.
In addition to this, it would help to pay close attention to your hamster and look for help if its coat still looks unclean after completing its grooming session.
Lastly, when you keep a hamster as a pet, and it spends a moderate amount of time grooming its hands, feet, and fur, it may signify that they feel secure and happy inside your home!
How Do Hamsters Clean Themselves?
If you observe your hamster cleaning itself, you will notice your hamster scratching all over its tiny body with its feet.
During the grooming process, your hamster will lick its feet, body, stomach, and any other part it can possibly reach. Your hamster will also brush its hair and ears to keep them clean and neat.
If you already have a hamster, you don’t have to worry too much about bathing it, as they will most likely do a better job at keeping themselves clean than you could. However, it would be good to note that not all domesticated hamsters are the same.
While some hamsters are efficient groomers, other hamsters may be lazy and don’t want to groom themselves as often. So, it would be better not to compare your hamster’s grooming behavior with other hamsters.
Grooming Behavior You Should Be Concerned About
If you suspect that something may be wrong with the grooming behavior of your hamster, your best option would be to consult a veterinary professional.
If your hamster grooms excessively, it may be because of the following:
Your Hamster May Be Stressed
Hamsters are timid animals by nature. They get stressed very quickly. If hamsters stray in strange places or are mishandled, they can become stressed and can go into depression if left untreated.
Grooming can help your hamster to reduce its stress levels.
This is one reason why your hamster will groom itself rigorously when you first bring him home from the pet store.
When your hamster is stressed, it will groom itself disturbingly. Stress grooming is very different from regular grooming, and you will spot the difference fairly quickly.
You can reduce your hamster’s stress by not touching it for a couple of days. Change of location and loud noises can also cause your hamster to groom its face intensely.
If you want to check for some additional stress symptoms, you can check if your hamster is biting their cage. If it is continuously biting its cage and grooming itself intensively, your hamster’s stress levels are very high.
If this is the situation, you need to take quick action to reduce your beloved pet’s stress levels. If you fail to lower your stress levels, it could be the death of your hamster.
Your Hamster Might Have a Skin Infection or Allergies
If your hamster grooms itself excessively for a more extended period, it might be suffering from a disease or allergies.
A hamster can develop a skin infection if you let them play in dirty places. Tropical insect bites can also cause an allergic reaction or skin infections.
If you leave allergic reactions or skin infections untreated, it could become life-threatening for your hamster.
Your Hamster Might Have Dandruff
If you think your hamster might have dandruff, consulting with a veterinary professional would be your best bet.
They will know how to fight the dandruff problem. Dandruff can happen because of several reasons. However, one of the main reasons for dandruff is improper diet and dry bedding.
You can often reduce the dandruff problem yourself by changing your hamster’s diet and bedding.
Hamsters are adorable animals, and they make perfect house pets. Although it might seem like hamsters are overly sensitive, they can live long and happy lives if you take proper care of them!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.