The way hamsters bathe and keep themselves clean is very different from the way humans do.
They have very different methods that contrast with those we use and have been adapted greatly over the centuries.
This is so they can survive in the territory that they live.
Hamsters are very sensitive to dirt and grime and they feel it immediately when it comes upon them.
It is quite a gift that they have, and one that us as humans don’t enjoy.
It means that they can keep themselves as clean as they can by any means that they can.
However, there are occasions when they for whatever reason, just cannot remove what is bothering them from their coat.
Despite persistent gnawing and licking their coat sometimes this just doesn’t do the job.
In these circumstances can I bathe a hamster in water?
Unfortunately, It is not a good thing to bathe a hamster.
This for a good reason.
Why it isn’t a good idea to bathe a hamster?
When they are bathed in water, hamsters can easily catch a cold because their fur is their body’s protection from the cold.
When that gets wet, the body has no protection and loses its main defense.
So when they get their fur wet, they immediately become exposed to the cold.
Drying them off quickly will help but drying off a hamster is not an easy thing to do.
They would much rather do this naturally than have you manhandling them with a towel.
What about if you really have to bathe them?
If ever you do need to bathe them then do this in as warm an environment as possible.
Doing this, you can help their bodies cope with the cold as much as possible.
The natural body temperature of a hamster is between 97-100 farenheit.
So if you can get the room temperature as close to that as possible then it will help them greatly.
Otherwise use as little water as possible.
What else can you do to help remove a stubborn stain from a hamster?
Get a little water in your fingers or by dabbing a cloth in water and rub the area and pinch the fur gently without hurting the hamster.
This will help to remove the stain concerned especially if it is a light stain.
Using shampoo on a hamster
If you need to use something more effective than water then some owners have used baby shampoo or animal shampoo to dab on the area concerned.
However use only a little as possible and try and avoid their eyes and head as that will definitely hurt them if they get it in their eyes.
There are various types of animal shampoo you can use and it might be worth consulting a vet to get their opinion on the best type to use.
But again using shampoo on a hamster is not the best thing for them to get the stain out.
If your hamster is a little wet get them as dry as possible using a towel and pat them down holding them close so that they don’t escape.
Keep holding them and dabbing them until the area is dry and then place extra bedding on the cage plus tissue for them.
Encouraging them to stay warm
When you have finished with them then put them back in their home.
Put some treats in their bed to encourage them to go down into it so that they can get warm in their nest.
Keep the temperature in the room as hot as possible as well.
Don’t use a hairdryer to dry them.
Even other methods such as using a hairdryer are really not good to use on hamsters.
They will not take kindly to having hot air blown at them forcefully.
Other methods of removing a stubborn stain
Consider cutting the affected part of hair away
If a little part of their fur is contaminated then it would be worth carefully cutting away that part of their fur which has been contaminated.
Do this gently though and it may need two of you, with one holding and the other doing the cutting to do this effectively
Using a sand bath.
Another method to use is a sand bath.
Sand baths are used by desert animals in the wild as a good way of removing dirt and grease in the absence of water in their natural habitat.
The way it works is that they roll about in the sand and the friction of the the sand against their body removes the stain concerned.
There is a way to do this at home though with your own hamster.
You can purchase chinchilla sand that you can use with your hamster to help them bathe.
It is also called bathing sand.
Take care just to purchase the sand though and not chinchilla dust which is too fine for hamsters to use.
Chinchilla dust can be bad for them and cause them to have respiratory problems if they breathe it in.
Make sure you have a ceramic dish to place the sand in.
You can purchase these from any good pets store and the are reasonable inexpensive.
The dish should be shallow enough for the hamster to get in and out of
How to set up a hamster sand bath
Take the ceramic dish and fill it with approximately 3 cm of Chinchilla bathing sand.
Then leave it in the hamster cage for them to use when they need to.
It is worth checking on it regularly throughout the day to see if it has been used and if so if it has been effective.
The sand will need changing regularly as they are likely to deficate in it.
So include it a part of your regular cleaning of the cage replacing the sand with new sand.
If you choose to you can leave the ceramic dish in the cage for them to play and roll about in as they will enjoy using it
So in summary, baths are not the best for hamsters and certainly shouldn’t be treated as a fun time for them.
Only wet their fur if you really need to.
However there are other methods you can use to remove a stubborn stain that doesn’t involve getting them wet.
Consider using chinchilla bath sand to help them get rid of stains that they can’t get rid of. It is quite an effective method and will save getting your hamster a chill.