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Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. June 22, 2023
Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water?

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Hamster owners have the obligation to ensure the well-being of these wonderful creatures. In terms of their health and happiness, proper hydration is vital. Just like us humans, hamsters need an adequate water intake to support their bodily functions and overall vitality. However, there may be times when our furry friends show a decreased interest in drinking water or display signs of dehydration.

AnimalWised explores the various reasons why your hamster may not be drinking enough water and provides practical solutions to encourage hydration.

You may also be interested in: Why Isn't your Cat Drinking Water?

Why is my hamster not drinking water?

If your hamster is not drinking water, it is important to investigate the potential reasons behind this behavior, as they can vary significantly. Here are some possible causes to consider:

  • Dirty water: one of the simplest issues to address is the cleanliness of the water. Hamsters are typically meticulous animals, and if the water is dirty or not fresh, they may refuse to drink it. To resolve this, it is recommended to change the water in the drinking fountain daily. Consider using filtered water or water that has been boiled and cooled to ensure it is clean and safe for your hamster.

  • Blocked drinker: it is essential to check if the water is flowing properly from the bottle. Sometimes, the tube leading to the spout can become clogged, preventing water from coming out. If you suspect this is the case, clean the bottle and check for any obstructions that might be hindering the water flow.

  • Oral problems: another possibility is that your hamster may be experiencing oral issues, such as malocclusions (misalignment of teeth) or dental abscesses. These conditions can cause pain in the hamster's mouth, making drinking uncomfortable and painful. Consequently, hamsters may avoid drinking.

  • Learning to drink from the drinker: while a drinking bottle is generally recommended for hamsters due to its cleanliness and spill-proof design, some hamsters may take time to learn how to drink from the spout. If your hamster has not previously used this type of bottle, it might need to familiarize itself with the mechanism. Observe your hamster closely to see if it shows any signs of attempting to drink or if it needs assistance in learning how to use the drinker.

  • Stress or environmental changes: hamsters are sensitive animals, and changes in their environment or stressful situations can affect their behavior, including their water intake. If your hamster has recently experienced changes in its surroundings, such as a new cage, relocation, or introduction to new cage mates, it may be feeling stressed. In such cases, the hamster might temporarily reduce its water consumption. Ensure that the hamster has a calm and comfortable environment, and monitor its behavior closely.

  • Illness or underlying health issues: various illnesses or underlying health conditions can lead to decreased water intake in hamsters. If your hamster appears lethargic, shows signs of weight loss, has abnormal stools, or displays other concerning symptoms in addition to not drinking water, it could be an indication of an underlying health issue. In such cases, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

  • Seasonal changes: Hamsters may naturally adjust their water consumption according to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. In hotter months, they may drink more water to stay hydrated, while in colder months, their water intake might decrease slightly. Ensure that the temperature in the hamster's environment is suitable, and provide appropriate bedding or insulation to maintain comfort.

  • Dietary changes: A sudden change in the hamster's diet can affect its water intake. If you recently switched the hamster's food or introduced new treats or fresh foods, it might take some time for the hamster to adjust and establish a new drinking routine. Monitor the hamster's food and water intake during this transition period.

By considering these factors and taking appropriate action, you can address the issue of your hamster not drinking water. However, if the problem persists, or you notice any other concerning symptoms, it is crucial to seek veterinary advice for a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance.

You might be interested in this other article, where we explore what are the most common hamster diseases.

What happens if my hamster doesn't drink water?

When a hamster is not properly hydrated, it can lead to various organic changes that may result in severe conditions, and in some cases, even prove fatal.

The most immediate concern is dehydration. Hamsters, like all living creatures, require water to maintain proper bodily functions. Without sufficient water intake, their body's fluid levels decrease, leading to dehydration. Dehydration can cause a range of symptoms, including lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, weight loss, and reduced urine output.

Water is essential for the proper functioning of vital organs in a hamster's body, including the kidneys, liver, and digestive system. Insufficient water intake can impair these organs' ability to carry out their functions effectively. This can lead to issues such as urinary tract problems, liver dysfunction, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Furthermore, lack of water can disrupt the hamster's digestive system, leading to constipation and difficulty passing stools. This can cause discomfort, pain, and potentially lead to intestinal blockages if not addressed promptly.

Without enough water, hamsters are also more susceptible to heat stroke, especially in warm or hot environments. Heat stroke can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Not only that but, when a hamster doesn't drink enough water, its immune system can become compromised, making it more susceptible to infections, illnesses, and slower recovery from diseases.

Finally, prolonged water deprivation can lead to a general decline in the hamster's health and overall well-being. It can affect its energy levels, cognitive function, and overall vitality, diminishing its quality of life.

Monitoring your hamster's water intake is crucial for ensuring its hydration. Keep an eye on the water level in the drinker and observe your hamster's overall health and behavior. If you notice any significant changes, such as a decrease in water consumption or signs of dehydration, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for a proper evaluation and guidance.

Be sure to check this other article, where we discuss what are the most common stress symptoms in hamsters.

Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water? - What happens if my hamster doesn't drink water?

How much should hamsters drink?

Hamsters typically do not consume large amounts of water compared to some other animals. The exact amount of water a hamster needs to drink can vary depending on factors such as their size, diet, environment, and individual variation. However, a general guideline suggests that hamsters should consume approximately 10 milliliters of water per 100 grams of their body weight.

For an average hamster weighing between 80 and 120 grams, this translates to approximately 8-12 milliliters of water per day. It's important to note that this is an estimate, and individual hamsters may have slightly different water intake needs.

Hamsters have the ability to obtain some moisture from their food, particularly if they are consuming water-rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. However, access to fresh and clean drinking water is still essential to meet their hydration requirements.

You might be interested in this other article, where we discuss what a hamster's ideal diet should be.

How to teach hamster to drink from water bottle

If you've determined that your hamster doesn't know how to drink from the water bottle, there are a few methods you can try to teach them:

Option 1

  1. Bring your hamster near the drinker.

  2. Tap lightly on the spout of the drinker to allow water droplets to come out.

  3. Using your finger, collect some water droplets.

  4. Gently bring your hamster's mouth close to your finger, allowing them to taste the water.

  5. Guide your hamster towards the drinker, encouraging them to explore and drink from it.

Option 2

  1. Place a small amount of food that your hamster enjoys on or around the mouthpiece of the drinker.

  2. Bring your hamster near the drinker, allowing them to smell and investigate the food.

  3. Wait for your hamster to lick the food, which will cause water to come out of the drinker.

  4. The hamster will associate the taste of the food with the water, gradually learning to drink directly from the drinker.

These methods aim to make the hamster aware that water is available from the drinker and help them associate it with a positive experience, either through tasting the water directly or by pairing it with their favorite food.

Be patient and repeat the process several times, offering encouragement and praise when your hamster approaches the drinker. It may take some time for them to become comfortable and confident in using the drinker independently.

Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water? - How to teach hamster to drink from water bottle

What to do if my hamster doesn't drink water?

If you have observed that your hamster is not drinking water or its water consumption has significantly decreased, there are several steps you can take to address the situation:

Offer water-rich foods

If your hamster is not drinking water, you can increase their intake of foods that provide hydration. Vegetables that have a high water content, such as zucchini or peach, can help keep your hamster hydrated. However, it's important not to overdo it, as excessive fluid intake can disrupt their digestive process and lead to diarrhea, which ironically can result in severe dehydration.

Strike a balance by providing small amounts of water-rich foods alongside their regular diet.

Change the water container

Consider switching to a different type of water container if you suspect your hamster is having difficulty accessing the water. While bottle-type drinkers are generally recommended as they prevent spillage and contamination, some hamsters may struggle to drink from them.

In such cases, you can try using a shallow dish or a water bowl that is more easily accessible. However, be cautious as hamsters have a tendency to spill water and wet bedding can lead to health issues. Regularly monitor and clean the water container to ensure hygiene.

Consult a veterinarian

If your hamster refuses to eat food as well, or displays additional symptoms such as aggression, apathy, lethargy, or seeks seclusion in a corner of the cage, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. These signs could indicate an underlying health issue or disease. A veterinarian experienced in small animal care can conduct a thorough examination, diagnose any problems, and recommend appropriate treatment.

Remember, ensuring your hamster stays hydrated is vital for their overall health and well-being. Providing fresh water, offering water-rich foods in moderation, and addressing any underlying health concerns are important steps to help your hamster regain their normal water consumption.

Finally, before you go, do not miss this other article where we have listed the most interesting facts about hamsters.

Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water? - What to do if my hamster doesn't drink water?

If you want to read similar articles to Why Is My Hamster Not Drinking Water?, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

Bibliography
  • 7 Hamster Health Issues Every Owner Needs to Know About . Hamsters 101. Available at: https://hamsters101.com/health-issues/
  • Dehydration in a hamster. Hammysworld . Available at: http://www.hammysworld.com/index.php?p=dehydration
  • How To Get Your Hamster To Drink Water: A Step-By-Step Guide . Rodent Life. Available at: https://rodentlife.com/how-to-get-your-hamster-to-drink-water/

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