Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
One of the first concerns my partner had when we took in Twitch, our dearly departed hamster, was “is she going to smell?”
This is a huge concern for a lot of parents and potential hamster owners. For some reason, hamsters have a bad reputation for being stinky or smelly, so is there some way to give them a bath? Do they need dust baths or do they clean themselves?
No, hamsters should not need baths. However, if your hamster smells you have a problem.
Hamsters Should Not Smell
I’m sure you’ve all seen how cute hamsters are when they clean themselves. I know I spent a lot of time watching Twitch rub her cute face with her little paws, making sure that she didn’t smell. If your hamster does smell, this is usually a sign that they are sick or something is wrong. The most common cause of this is an unclean cage. Make sure to clean your hamster cage at least once a week, although our vet actually recommends you clean the cage and change the bedding at least twice a week. This is very important, especially if your hamster is in a small cage. I would recommend thinking about getting a larger cage or even making one yourself. If you’re into DIY projects, check out my tutorial on how to make a large hamster enclosure for under $20.
Something to keep in mind is that odour can actually cause your hamster to get sick, so if there’s a foul odour coming from your hamster’s cage make sure to take your hamster to the vet immediately!
Can you wash your hamster?
Absolutely not. Hamsters should not be wet as it is very easy for them to catch a cold. They are also very sensitive and using soap or other cleaning solutions will remove the essential oils from their fur, which again will cause them to get sick. If you absolutely need to clean your hamster, use a non-toxic cleaning product and make sure that you clean them in a very warm environment to make sure they dry immediately (or quickly) after cleaning. Do not return the hamster back to their cage/habitat until they are fully dry.
Why do Hamsters Need to Groom Themselves?
Hamsters have scent glands in their hip area (on their flanks). When they groom themselves they spread the oils that secreet from their scent glands all over their bodies. Since they are territorial animals they will clean themselves fairly often. You may notice that they do this immediately after you handle them, so don’t be offended if you notice your hamster cleaning themselves after every handling. It doesn’t mean they don’t like it!
I noticed my hamster has poop on their body, what can I do?
The best thing you can do is brush them, especially if they are a long haired hamster. It’s important to make sure you help remove dirt and debris from them with a soft toothbrush. While brushing your hamster make sure to inspect them to see if there are any signs of illness. Brush them all over, including their stomachs and make sure that there are no lumps, tumours, abcesses or wetspots around their tail. If they show any odd symptoms or are extremely unclean take them to the vet immediately. Unfortunately, hamsters are very vulnerable and may pass very quickly if they are sick.
When I’ve been cleaning my hamster I noticed blood on their fur…
Uh oh! This isn’t a great sign. Dependant on where the blood is, there are different problems that it could be. If the blood is near your hamster’s mouth, the cause is probably overgrown teeth, if the blood is near their genitals or bum your hamster may have an internal disease that’s symptoms include blood in urine or stool. Please make sure to take your hamster to the vet if blood is ever visible.
Are sand baths safe for hamsters?
Are dust baths safe for hamsters?
Dust baths are not recommended for hamsters as dust is a lot finer than sand is. This can potentially harm your hamster by getting stuck in their throat, mouth or nose.
My hamster won’t use the sand bath!!
Sadly, not all hamsters are into sand baths. If this is the case, you’re going to have to rely on your hamster to clean themselves and always remember, if they are stinky, there’s probably something else that is wrong with your hamster.