Can Hamsters Swim? 3 Reasons Why They Can’t

Can Hamsters Swim

Most pets that you see in the pet store enjoy being in the water and able to swim. Taking a bath is necessary to remove dirt and other debris from their fur. If you’ve just bought a hamster, you may be wondering if hamsters can swim or take a bath. 

Can hamsters swim? Yes, hamsters can swim, but only if they need to. These creatures come from the hot desert region where water isn’t something they see often. For that reason, their body isn’t designed to be in the water.

Why Shouldn’t Hamsters Get Wet?

Hamsters Getting Wet Can Cause Them to Have Stress

Guinea Pig Eating

Hamsters tend to get stressed very easily. When they get stressed, they may develop health problems. Sometimes, it can be serious enough that it will send them into shock. This is a dangerous condition for hamsters and could be fatal for them.

As for getting wet, it’s unnatural for the hamsters. They are not used to getting wet and only a few times per year when it rains is when they will experience it.

Hamsters Getting Wet Can Weaken their Immune System

When a hamster gets stressed, it will result in their immune system is weakened.

If the hamster gets wet occasionally, their immune system will weaken a bit but gets stronger again.

However, if they get wet often, as in showering them or letting them swim, their immune system will not be able to fully recover. When this happens, they are more prone to illness.

Hamsters Getting Wet Can Remove Good Natural Oils

Hamsters have fur that helps regulate their body temperature throughout the year. During the winter months, hamsters will produce oil in their fur. The oil produced is to help prevent warmth from escaping from their body. Also, the oil will help prevent the cold temperature from penetrating their fur.

When a hamster gets wet, some of this oil is removed from their fur.

In the wild, when it rains, the hamsters will go into their underground den to avoid the rain. If they happen to be outside while it’s raining, their fur will repel the water naturally.

By bathing or letting the hamster swim, it will cause the oils to be removed from their fur. When this happens, their fur will no longer be able to retain warmth.

What To Do If Your Hamster Gets Wet?

Hamsters will naturally stay away from water, except when they need to take a drink. Otherwise, they will stay as far from the water as they can.

There are some instances that they may get wet. If you left the windows open and forgot to close it during a rainstorm, the hamsters will get wet. Other times, they may accidentally tip their water bowl over and got themself wet from it.

If they do get wet, there are some steps to take to get them dry as quickly as possible:

  • Use a dry cloth or towel to remove water from their fur. If they are extremely wet, you can use a blow dryer to dry them quicker. Make sure to set it at the lowest cool setting.
  • Ensure the hamster cage is dry and warm.
  • Wrap them in a warm towel until they are completely dry.

For the next couple of days, keep an eye on your hamster and look for signs of any illness. If you notice that they are sneezing, having diarrhea, or not very active as usual, take them to the veterinary as soon as possible.

Keeping Your Hamster Clean


Like most other rodents, hamsters are an expert when it comes to grooming. Hamsters will use their saliva to clean their entire body. Their saliva will also help remove dirt and parasites from their fur.

If the hamsters look like they need cleaning, you can just leave them alone. They’ll groom themselves until they are clean.

Sand Bath

When it comes to the sand bath, Chinchillas are best known to use them. They will require a sand bath each day to keep themselves clean. While the sand bath isn’t something that hamsters require, but they can benefit from such a bath.

This is an excellent method for keeping your hamsters clean. Simply place Chinchilla sand in a tiny bowl and place it into the cage. Once they are done grooming themselves in the sand, remove the bowl of sand out of the cage.


This should be the last method to use when you notice the hamsters can’t get themselves clean by grooming or using the sand bath. Even though you’ll just make the washcloth damp, it’s enough to cause them to be frightened.

Hold the hamster securely but gently.  Then use the washcloth and gently use it on the hamster as you were petting them.

Once you’ve removed all the dirt and debris from your hamster’s fur, use a soft and dry towel to clean them.

Alternative Activities to Swimming for Hamsters

There are many other activities that you can offer your hamsters instead of swimming. Below are a few of them that we recommend:

Create a hamster tunnel. In the wild, hamsters will spend a lot of their time in the ground burrowing and making tunnels. You can do the same and recreate the environment so they’ll feel at home and will keep them active.

Use a hamster wheel. This is a classic and all hamsters will love it. Place one in their cage and they will start exercising on. This will keep them busy for hours.

Allow the hamster to explore. Hamsters that get locked in their cage for a long time will start to get stressed. Every day, for a few hours, you should let the hamster out and explore. Make sure the area that they’ll be allowed to roam is hamster-proof.

Also, if you a pet cat in the house, be sure to keep them away from the hamster. Even though cats are domesticated, the hamster is still a tasty treat for them.

Play a game with your hamster. Hamster is a curious creature that likes to roam and discover new things. You can play a game by hiding a treat from them. In the wild, hamsters forage for food all day long. By playing this game of hiding the treat from them, it will help stimulate their mind and keep them active.

Related Questions

Is it safe to bathe a hamster?

As mentioned earlier, it’s not safe to bathe them. Doing so will cause them to become stressed which will lead to sickness and even death. A good alternative to taking a bath is to give them a sand bath. Since the sand bath is dry, they will actually enjoy taking a bath in it.

Why do hamsters stink?

Naturally, hamsters don’t produce any odor. Most of the time, the smell is usually from rotting food or dropping in their cage. If the hamster has a strong smell coming from them, this can be caused by a disease. When you notice this, it’s best to take them to the veterinary immediately.

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