We give cats and dogs a bath when they start to smell bad to keep them clean. But should we give hamsters a bath too?
A hamster’s grooming needs is quite different in comparison to larger pets!
In this article, we’ll share some great tips on how to keep your hamsters clean, and tools that will make bathing safer and more enjoyable.
Do We Need to Bathe Hamsters?
Hamsters are naturally clean animals who spend as much as 20% of their time grooming themselves regularly and have almost no odour.
Therefore, there’s no need to bathe them frequently in order to maintain a healthy level of cleanliness.
Can You Give a Hamster a Bath?
In the event when your hamsters aren’t able to clean themselves sufficiently, you should never attempt to bathe them with water (with the exception of particular situations).
Hamsters catch colds easily when they’re wet and may die as a result.
It is important to avoid getting your hamsters wet. Water removes the essential oils and sweat glands from their fur that keeps their coat healthy. Without them, hamsters are much more susceptible to catching a cold.
Why does My Hamster Smell So Bad
You might be wondering:
If hamsters are naturally clean animals, why do they still smell bad?
Here are few reasons that might be the cause.
How Often to Clean Hamster Cage
As a rule of thumb:
How often you clean depends on the size of its enclosure and the number of hamsters you have.
With a larger space, the mess would be spread over a larger area. With more hamsters, it’ll require more frequent cleaning due to their waste.
Your Hamster Might Be Sick
On the other hand, if you notice a stronger-than-usual odour from your hamsters, you should take them to a vet as they might be sick. Healthy hamsters will clean themselves regularly.
Here are some common hamster illnesses in Singapore which may also be the reason for the strong odour.
Wet Tail is caused by a type of bacteria. It inflames the small intestine, resulting in diarrhoea.
It’s lethal and should receive medical attention as soon as possible. In most situations, only young Syrian hamsters are affected by Wet Tail.
Yeast or Fungal Infection
Yeast/fungal infection is caused by contaminated or wet beddings.
Due to our tropical climate, these infections are extremely common for all pet hamsters in Singapore. Thankfully, it’s non-lethal and can be cured in a few weeks with proper care.
Do note these infections are contagious, therefore it’s best prevented by changing soiled beddings promptly.
Unitary Tract Infection (UTI)
Another common disease among hamsters in Singapore, UTI is a painful experience. Due to their small size, bacteria can enter the urethra and infect their bladder.
A hamster with UTI will urinate more frequently than usual, with traces of blood in their pee. They will also consume more water in attempt to flush out the infection.
However, UTI is very rarely cured naturally. An early visit to the vet and proper medication is important. Otherwise, it may develop into something worse.
If you have multiple hamsters, place your infected hamster in quarantine as it can be contagious. You should also switch out their bedding with kitchen towels temporarily as it’ll help prevent additional contamination.
Finally, follow your vet’s instructions and observe your hamster regularly.
How to Bathe and Groom a Hamster
While a water bath isn’t the best option for your hamster’s hygiene, there are few other ways you can do it safely!
Brushing or combing is a great way to clean your hamsters safely when they’re dirty or have something stuck in their fur.
It keeps your hamster dry while effectively removing most dirt, faeces and other messes. For hamsters with longer fur, brushing should be done more regularly.
You can use hamster brushes and combs, or even a regular tooth brush for this.
How to brush your hamster’s fur:
An easy way to pick up your hamsters would be by the skin on the back of their necks. This usually keeps them calm and prevents them from struggling to get away.
While brushing, observe for signs of tumours and other skin conditions. When handling Syrian hamsters, if you notice a dampness in rear areas, you should take them to the vet since they’re prone to contracting Wet Tail.
Using Scissors to Trim their Fur
In some cases, brushing gently might not get rid of the substances stuck in their fur. Thus, a small grooming scissors may come in handy for trimming their fur.
Dog grooming scissors intended for sensitive areas like the back of their ears, are great for this. They come with rounded edges, are precise and don’t cause pulling.
How to trim your hamster’s fur:
Start by gathering the fur you’d like to trim between your fingers, and ensure your hamster is staying as still as possible. With the scissors in your hands, swiftly and carefully trim the fur.
This is the preferred grooming method as it’s the safest and can be done regularly. In fact, many hamsters really enjoy it! Sand bathing keeps their coat clean and grease free.
How to bathe your hamster in sand:
- Get a container or bath house that’s big enough for your hamster to roll around
- Fill it up with specialised bath powder for small pets
- Watch your hamster tumble around in the sand
- Once the bath is done, dust the sand off your hamsters or let them do it themselves.
Most mess such as dirt and hardened faeces on their fur will come off easily.
How to bathe your hamster in sand:
When purchasing bath sand, ensure that the product is actually sand, and not dust. Dust can cause hamsters to have respiratory issues when inhaled.
Next, there’s spot cleaning, which is essentially cleaning specific dirty spots on your hamster.
This method shouldn’t be used unless the other options don’t work as it involves water.
How to spot clean your hamster:
- Find a warm room where fur can dry quickly
- Wet a portion of a soft or wash cloth or use hamster wipes
- Using the damp cloth/wipe, gently clean the dirty spot on the hamster
- Once you’re done cleaning, allow the fur to air dry fully before placing them back in their cage. This will minimise the risk of them catching a cold.
Your last resort is a wet bath. Despite being dangerous for hamsters, there are certain scenarios where a wet bath is the only option.
This includes poisonous or toxic substances getting caught in their fur. Considering that a hamster may die from ingesting them, water is the lesser of two evils.
How to give your hamster a wet bath:
- Wet a toothbrush
- Place hamster on your palm or a flat surface and ensure it stays as still as possible
- With the wet toothbrush in your other hand, gently brush out the substance on your hamster
- Once brushing is done, allow your hamster to dry completely in a warm airy space before placing them back in their homes. This will prevent them from catching a cold.
Ways to Bathe Your Hamster
While there are several methods for cleaning your hamster, it’s always best to let them clean themselves.
Paying regular attention to your pets allows you to spot issues early and treat them before they develop into something more serious