The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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If you are thinking about getting a hamster as a pet, you might be wondering about their drinking habits. I was worried about this a while back when I got my first hamster.
I had no idea if hamsters could drink anything other than water. I searched for the answer to my question, what can hamsters drink?
When hamsters are tiny, they will drink milk from their mother. After the hamsters are weaned from their mother’s milk, they will drink water. Water is the best drink for hamsters and should never be substituted by things like juice. Water has everything your hamster needs to stay healthy and hydrated.
I had no idea if I could give my hamsters anything other than water, and I didn’t want to give them anything to drink that was bad for them. I did some research and spoke to a friend who has had hamsters for years. I decided to share what I found to help others wonder what hamsters can drink.
What Can Hamsters Drink
Hamsters will drink milk from their mother from birth to around three weeks after birth. After that, they are weaned from the milk, and the milk is slowly replaced by water.
Water keeps the hamster hydrated, helps with food digestion, and keeps their stool regular so they don’t get constipated.
Do Hamsters Drink a Lot Of Water?
Hamsters can get dehydrated very quickly because they only drink a few drops of water, but they drink water at least once an hour or so. They need at least between one to two teaspoons a day.
It’s vital to give your hamster only water to drink, except if there is a medical reason not to do so. If you find that your hamster is not drinking water but still looks dehydrated, try adding a pinch of salt to the water.
What Can Hamsters Drink Besides Water?
Water is the best drink to give hamsters because it has everything a hamster needs to stay healthy and hydrated. Hamsters are desert animals by nature and need more water on average than other rodents. Because they are desert critters, they have a “urine recycling” system.
This system helps keep them hydrated while looking for more food and water. The system stores the urine in the hamster’s bladder and recycles it back to the body through the kidneys. Because of this system, their bodies can go three or four days without any food and water.
Water is best to give hamsters because it won’t influence their body’s health. While they can be tasty, other drinks might not be that healthy and can lead to medical issues.
Can Hamsters Drink Fruit Juice?
Hamsters eat fruits and vegetables in the wild, and you probably give your hamster some fruits or vegetables as part of their normal diet. So you might be wondering if you could give your hamster fruit juice to drink? Is it the same as fruits, right?
The percentage of sugar and acid in fruits is much less than in fruit juice. One small piece of fruit contains the amount of sugar and acid that one piece, but fruit juice contains the sugar and acid of hundreds of fruits blended together, so the amount is not the problem; the concentration of the sugar and acids in the fruit juice is.
As stated before, hamsters are desert rodents, and as such, their bodies tend to store food and water for more extended periods, meaning they don’t have the same digestive tract as other animals do.
Because their bodies store food in case of emergencies, so they don’t die, if they get drinks with higher sugar and acid levels, their bodies store it. It could lead to obesity and diabetes.
Their bodies cannot deal with excess sugar prevalent in fruit juices. The acid present in most fruit juices could harm the stomach lining of your hamster; this could cause excess acid to build up in the stomach and irritate the digestive tracts.
Even giving them a few sips now and then can lead to medical issues.
Can Hamsters Drink Milk?
Hamsters drink mothers’ milk when they are babies and up to the age of three weeks. They are then weaned off of milk and then drink water. But can they drink milk after they are weaned off of mothers’ milk?
Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat and drink meat, veggies, fruits, and plants, so their bodies have the potential to digest milk. It’s never good to give milk to your hamster. In the wild, after a hamster is weaned off its mother’s milk, milk is not a normal part of its diet.
There are a few problems with giving your hamster milk; milk spoils quickly, so if it spills, you have a germ-breeding paradise. Milk is a haven for bacteria to grow, and if you give milk to your hamster and some spills, when the hamster comes into contact with the contaminated milk, it could make a hamster sick.
Another reason milk is not a good idea to give to your hamster is that it would be a sudden change in its diet. Hamsters thrive on routine in their diet, and sudden shocks to the digestive system can make them sick; it could cause:
- Intestinal discomfort
- Loose stool
- Difficulty breathing
- Huddling in a corner (due to physical discomfort)
- Weight loss
- It could cause a discharge from the nose and eyes
It might seem a bit boring, only drinking water your whole life, but it’s what’s best for your hamster. Rather a safe, healthy, and happy hamster than an obese, diabetic, or sick hamster.
Milk also doesn’t have any extra nutrition, but the added fat content can cause your hamster to become overweight.
On the other hand, if you are in a situation where you need to care for baby hamsters, you need to get in touch with a veterinarian to give you the right substitute milk formula for the little ones.
Should I Give Tap Water, Filtered Water, or Distilled Water?
When you get a pet hamster, you want to give it only the best food and water, but should it be tap water, filtered water, or distilled water? It was a question I had when I got my first hamster.
Hamsters in the wild drink water from the leaves of plants, small puddles of water left after it rains and wherever else they can find water.
As we said before, hamsters are desert rodents, and there isn’t much water available, so they tend to drink what they can find. In domesticated hamsters, this can be a problem.
Hamsters have rather sensitive digestive systems and can’t drink just anything, but if the water in your area is fine, you won’t have problems with your hamster.
In extreme situations (in the wild), hamsters can go up to 3-4 days without food and water, as discussed earlier, but hamsters start to get dehydrated after 24 hours and can become sick after 48 hours without any water.
Can Hamsters Drink Cold Water?
Hamsters prefer temperate temperatures, and the same goes for food and water. Hamsters like their water to be room temperature, not too hot, and not too cold.
You can give your hamster cold water, but chances are it will wait until the water is room temperature before it takes a drink.
How to Get Your Hamster to Drink More Water
We need to ensure our hamsters stay hydrated, but how can we get them to drink water? Here are a few tips:
- You can try giving them more dry hamster pellets and less fresh fruits. The pellets will encourage them to drink more water.
- You can tempt them by putting a little honey (not too much) on the tip of the water bottle. Hamsters love sweet things, and it will encourage them to drink more water.
- Ensure to clean the water bottle thoroughly each day; hamsters can smell detergent if it’s not properly rinsed out.
- You can add more floor space to the hamster enclosure; more activity and exercise will encourage your hamster to drink more water.
- You could try to change the water bottle. Sometimes hamsters dislike the water bottle if it has a strange taste or smell.
If you have tried all these methods and your hamsters still won’t drink water, there might be another reason, and you need to take it to a veterinarian to find out more.
How High Should a Hamster Water Bottle Be?
The height placement of the water bottle will depend on the type of hamster you have. Most people have dwarf or Syrian hamsters, and the consensus is to put the bottle between 2-3 inches above the bedding.
The height will also differ depending on if you have a baby hamster or an adult hamster. The important thing to remember is to place the bottle at the height of your hamster’s face.
Can You Use a Bowl for Hamsters Drink Water Out Of?
Many hamster owners prefer to use a bowl instead of a bottle to give their hamsters water. They say it’s a more natural way for hamsters to drink water because, with bottles, the water comes out in drops, but with bowls, your hamster has free reign to drink water without constrictions.
The metal ball in water bottles can also cause damage to your hamster’s teeth, and the spout can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. The other owners argue that the hamsters might drown, that the water gets contaminated more quickly, and it’s not safe for your hamster.
It is a personal preference and a choice that only you can make, or if your hamster doesn’t want to drink from a bottle, you might need to use a bowl.
How to Give a Hamster Water Without a Bottle
As stated in the section above, you can substitute a bottle for a bowl. There is a lively debate about the benefits and disadvantages of using a bowl instead of a bottle. If your hamster doesn’t drink from a bottle, you can use a hamster bowl.
Experts suggest using a smaller bowl that won’t encourage your hamster to sit in the water or climb inside the bowl.
So shallow bowls with a diameter of not more than 8mm in diameter will work. You place the bowl in the spot where the water bottle would be, and the hamster’s instincts will take over.
If you see it won’t drink, try adding a few drops of honey to the water (not too much and too often, you don’t want your hamster to get diabetes).
What Can Cause My Hamster Not to Drink Anything?
If you have followed the suggested feeding guidelines of your vet on hamsters, but your hamster doesn’t want to drink, you need to figure out what the problem is. Hamsters can get dehydrated quickly, leading to other more severe conditions.
There is a number of reasons why your hamster might stop drinking water; some of the reasons include:
Like us, hamsters will eat and drink less when sick or have digestive issues. It could be because they have changed foods.
When hamsters change food, their digestive system is shocked, and they might have loose stool or diarrhea for a few days after first eating new food. If it continues past a few days, it might be a more severe condition, and you should get them to a vet.
Other medical issues could cause them to drink less water or stop drinking water altogether, including:
- Wet Tail: It’s a condition caused by bacterial problems and stress. The hamster will have diarrhea, and it will stop drinking water and eating.
- Dental Issues: If your hamster has an infected cheek pouch, sore tooth, or ingrown tooth, the pain could be bad enough to stop the hamster from drinking and eating.
- Intestinal Issues: If your hamster has digestive problems, it will stop drinking and eating.
- Pain: When a hamster is in pain, it will stop drinking and eating, depending on the severity of the issue.
- Respiratory Issues: When your hamster has trouble breathing, it will stop eating and drinking.
- Vomiting: If your hamster has eaten something that has gone rancid or something that doesn’t agree with its stomach, it will throw up the offending item. After that, it might stop eating and drinking for a while.
If your hamster shows any of the symptoms described in the previous section, you should immediately take it to the vet.
Hamsters are somewhat sensitive to their environment and routine. When something changes and they get stressed, it will affect their eating and drinking habits.
Stressed hamsters will stop eating, drinking, sit in a corner and even pull out their fur. If you see this, you need to figure out what is causing their stress before they get dehydrated.
Some hamster food can cause your hamsters to drink more or drink less; for example, if you give your hamster more fruits, it will drink less water as their bodies will absorb the water in the fruit.
If they eat more hamster pellets, they will drink more because pellets are dry, and the pellets swell and break down easier if they drink water.
When we get a new, we only want to give them the best, including what they drink. Hamsters only drink milk until they are three weeks old, then, they are weaned off of milk, and they start to drink water. It has all the right vitamins and minerals to keep your hamster healthy and hydrated.