Hamsters generally have a high daily water requirement. It is all the more alarming when you suddenly notice that your hamster seems to have stopped drinking.
One thing should be clear: Lack of fluid intake is always a problem!
In this article, we will tell you 7 common reasons why your hamster stops drinking, show you how to recognize dehydration in your hamster and what you can do about it afterwards.
Here we go!
7 reasons why a hamster does not drink
There can be many reasons why a hamster does not drink or seems to drink too little. Common causes are illnesses, but also harmless motivations such as a very water-rich diet.
Nevertheless, you should really take a close look if the water intake is too low!
It is important to find and correct the cause quickly. Because dehydration can become life-threatening for your pet within a short time.
Reason 1: Stuck cheek pouches
The famous hamster cheeks are often filled to the brim by the animals.
Normally this is not a problem!
However, with sticky food it can become dangerous. The hamster is then no longer able to empty them completely. Possible consequences are inflammations up to abscesses. It can also prevent the animal from taking in further food and water.
Reason 2: Toothache and injuries
Oral injuries and dental problems can significantly restrict your hamster from drinking and eating.
Typical signs include:
constant movements of the mouth and lips
Loss of appetite
apathy and weakness
Even very tame animals may also react shyly and avoid touching.
Reason 3: Water-rich food
In addition to injuries and diseases, a very simple and harmless reason is also possible.
If your animal has plenty of water-rich food, such as cucumber, melon and green food available, the water requirement is possibly covered and the hamster is simply not thirsty.
So there is no cause for concern as long as there are no signs of dehydration (more on that in a moment).
Reason 4: Defective water bottle
If the water level in your water bottle just won’t go down, a defect may be responsible.
Therefore, check with your finger if something has jammed in the tube or if dirt is preventing water from escaping. A small piece of litter is sufficient for this.
Reason 5: Contaminated water
If the hamster does not like the water, he will drink less of it. In extreme cases, he will even do without it completely.
This can be possible in the case of impurities, but also in the case of poor water quality.
Reason 6: Bad experience
Once violently swallowed and thus frightened can be sufficient for hamsters that they no longer approach the water bowl or bottle.
They then associate it with fear and danger.
Since you can’t always observe these bad experiences directly, the sudden avoidance may seem surprising and inexplicable to you.
Reason 7: Wrong presentation
Some hamsters prefer water bottles, others water bowls. Still others generally prefer to ingest water through food.
So if your pet is drinking poorly from the start, you may have chosen the wrong delivery method.
Try it out.
How much should hamsters drink?
As a guideline, 10 milliliters per 100 grams of body weight. For a hamster weighing 200 grams, this would be 20 milliliters of water, or about four teaspoons.
This may seem very little, but is perfectly sufficient for the small animals as long as they are not sick. In case of diarrhea or very dry room air and high temperatures, more liquid is lost. Accordingly, more water must be drunk.
With the quantity you must also take into account that a very water-rich diet means less thirst. If there is a lot of fresh food on the menu, your hamster may drink less.
However, there is no danger of an undersupply.
When is there a risk of dehydration?
The risk always exists when less water is absorbed than excreted. You have to keep in mind that the air a hamster breathes already contains moisture.
Urine and feces represent the largest amounts of excretion. With diarrhea, the loss of fluids is increased even more. This also increases the risk for dehydration.
Within one to two days, the lack of water intake becomes a problem even in otherwise healthy animals. Therefore, always make sure that sufficient water is accessible and that it is drunk.
How do you recognize dehydration in your hamster?
There are typical signs that indicate an undersupply of fluids.
dry mucous membranes in the eyes
apathy and lethargy
If you want to be absolutely sure that it is not another problem, you can perform the so-called skin test.
To do this, take some of your hamster’s skin between your index finger and thumb and gently squeeze it. If it smooths out immediately, there is no dehydration. However, if it remains as a raised wrinkle, there is not enough fluid and quick action is required.
Take your hamster to the vet immediately!
In addition to a comprehensive examination, electrolyte infusions can be given here, which directly supply the organism with the urgently needed fluid and can prevent consequential damage and severe courses.
If there is no dehydration yet but you are still concerned about the drinking amount, the following tips can help you increase it.
6 Tips: Get hamsters drinking and combat dehydration.
There are numerous ways to make drinking more appealing to your hamster. We have compiled the most important tips and tricks.
- offer water bowl
Drinking bottles are widely used because they have some advantages. However, some hamsters do not like to drink from them. A shallow water bowl can be a simple solution.
It should be stable and heavy enough not to tip over. A flat rim is also important. This is especially true for dwarf hamsters and young animals. A raised stand is also recommended.
Possible disadvantages are that a bowl can quickly become contaminated with litter. If a bowl is chosen that is too light, it can also fall over and soak the bedding.
Last but not least, there is a risk that your hamster will fall into the bowl while drinking or playing and get wet or even choke.
Therefore, choose the location carefully, check the water bowl frequently and do not fill it with too much water.
- drinking bottle
A water bottle for hamsters and mice has many advantages. The water is kept clean and the amount of water drunk can be easily controlled if a marker is placed.
In addition, the container only releases water when an animal drinks from it. That is, the water does not evaporate.
Nevertheless, the bottles are not accepted equally well by all hamsters. In addition, they can tempt you to fill a lot of water. If this is stale, it no longer tastes too good.
Algae and lime deposits are also possible. Cleaning is much more difficult than with a bowl.
It is therefore ideal if you offer both water bottles and water bowls.
- water rich feeds
Hamsters do not need food that is too rich in water.
If there is an oversupply, it can even harm the kidneys!
If the hamster does not drink enough, fruits and vegetables should be added to the menu:
Bell bell pepper
If it facilitates the intake, baby porridge made of apples or carrots can also be offered. In addition, you can make your own carrot soup, which is primarily for diarrhea, but is still water-rich and therefore suitable even if the baby is not drinking.
To make water-rich foods even more appealing, reduce dry foods. Watch your hamster closely to check that this allocation is working.
- offer liquid with a syringe
Sometimes there is no way around the forced feeding of liquid.
In these cases, you can use a syringe without a needle and offer water first. Be very careful and give the liquid only drop by drop.
If your hamster does not lick the syringe on its own, you can gently push it into the side of its mouth and wet the lips and oral mucosa. The procedure is lengthy and requires tact and patience as well as caution.
To facilitate ingestion, you can add a blob of unsalted peanut butter to the tip of the syringe. The amount should be very small and serves only as an attractant and flavoring agent.
- offer water in an unusual way
In nature, hamsters are not familiar with bottles or bowls. They get their water from dew on plants, puddles and rain, as well as food.
You can try to mimic these sources!
For example, spray green food lightly with water or don’t dry it after washing. Hollow out a piece of cucumber or zucchini and fill it with water. Even a crushed berry mixed with water can cause drinking to increase.
Likewise, a lettuce leaf can serve as a bowl.
- change water
Maybe the water in the bottle or bowl is too old or the tap water doesn’t taste good. You may not notice this yourself, but your hamster will.
Therefore, try to use different types of water. Well suited are for example
boiled tap water
filtered tap water
The change in taste may make the hamster prefer to drink.
What to do if the hamster still does not drink?
In this case, there is no way around a visit to the vet.
Because of the small size, fast action is required, especially with a hamster. Otherwise there is danger to life in a short time.
In addition, injuries, malocclusions of the teeth or other problems are usually not directly recognizable for you.
Also an intestinal obstruction or diseases are not immediately noticeable without medical knowledge and the appropriate experience. Not to mention that you lack the necessary means for help or therapy.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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