Owning a hamster is one of the easiest and low maintenance pets that you can own. Sometimes, these little creatures could create a mess and cause the cage to smell. This might lead you to assume your hamster smell.
So do hamsters smell? Hamsters are clean creatures that don’t emit any smell or have bad odors. This is due to hamsters cleaning themselves often. If you notice a bad smell coming from them, it’s most likely leftover foods, waster from the hamsters, or infrequent cleaning.
Why Do Hamsters Smell?
The odor that’s coming from the hamsters is most likely not from them. Hamsters are very clean creatures and will groom themselves very often.
They frequently clean themselves for a very good reason. Since hamsters are at the bottom of the food chain, they are prey to a lot of other animals. From above, predators like hawks, owls, and bats prey on them. At ground level, snakes, lizards, and foxes will catch and eat hamsters.
Also, this includes your pet cat. Even though cats are domesticated, due to natural instinct they will prey on hamsters and other small mammals such as rats, gerbils, and mice.
To prevent them from being detected by predators, they have to groom themselves often. This could be a couple of times per day or even more. Usually, whenever they go out to forage for food, they will clean themselves before going into their den. This removes any trace of smell that could lead predators to them.
Therefore, the reasons why hamsters smell are usually not them, but things around them.
Below are the 3 common reasons why your hamsters smell:
Hamster Smell Due to Leftover Foods
Foods that are put in their cage can sometimes fall into the bedding. Over time, it will start to rot and smell.
If you feed them pellets, most likely, it will be placed in a bowl. Pellets tend to break into bits and pieces as the hamsters eat them. These small pieces of pellets will drop into the cage.
Over time, as the hamsters drink water, some of it may drop onto the pellet pieces. From this, it will start to become moist and get contaminated with bacteria and mold. Left for a long time, it will start giving off a bad odor.
The same goes for other food that you give them such as vegetables, fruits, and grains. All of these foods are perishable and will start to rot if it’s not cleaned from their cage.
Hamster Smell From Urine
Hamsters are clean creatures and will usually try to keep urinate as far from their sleeping space as possible. For that reason, they will usually urinate at a corner of the cage. They will urinate at the same corner every day.
In the wild, they will urinate far from their den to prevent the scent from being detected by predators.
After a couple of days, the urine will start to produce an odor if it’s not cleaned. This odor will start to spread throughout the cage and even on the hamster.
Hamsters Smell Due to Infrequent Cleaning
In the cage is where the hamsters spend most of their time. This includes eating food, sleeping, and going to the bathroom.
Therefore, all the leftover foods and urine will start to seep to the bottom of the cage and produce an odor. The odor is usually from mold and bacteria growing on them.
If the cage is left too long without any cleaning, it will start to make the hamsters smell as well.
How To Prevent Hamsters From Smelling
Cleaning Their Cage Frequently
Hamsters are very clean creatures and will groom themselves throughout the day. If you picked them up and they smell, it will usually be their cage that’s causing the odor. For this reason, proper cage cleaning is essential to keep the hamsters and the cage from smelling.
When it comes to keeping their cage clean, a cleaning schedule is required. Their cage will require daily cleaning, weekly cleaning, and monthly cleaning. This is to ensure that their cage is clean and smells fresh all the time.
Once a day, you should do a quick cleaning of the cage. This means if there are any leftover foods in the cage, clean them up and discard them.
Most of the food that’s fed to them will be dried so it will not cause the cage to smell right away. Bits and pieces of food can be left there, but if there are large leftover pieces, discard them. Fruits and vegetables can start getting contaminated within a day and have mold and harmful bacterial growing on them.
Besides food, check the corner for urine and poop. If there are any, scoop and clean the area clean. You don’t want to leave them longer than a day. Waste from the hamsters gets contaminated quickly with harmful bacteria. Not only are those bacteria harmful to the health of the hamsters, but will cause the cage to smell as well.
Once a week, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the cage of foods and waste from the hamsters.
Remove the tray from the cage and thoroughly clean their bedding. If their bedding is really soiled and gives off too much odor, discard the entire bedding and replace it with new bedding. Wood shaving is the recommended bedding for hamsters.
Next, remove any leftover foods and clean their food bowl thoroughly. Also, make sure to clean their water bottle and replace it with clean water.
If you have toys in there for them to play, make sure to give them a good cleaning as well. This includes the hamster wheel if you have that as well.
Once a month, you’ll need to deep clean the cage. This means taking everything in the cage apart and cleaning it thoroughly with mild soap and disinfecting it.
Start by removing all the items from their cage. Discard their bedding and any leftover foods and water in the bottle. Using a mild soap, wipe down the entire cage, food bowl, and water bottle. Also, clean their toys and wheel.
Once all of it is cleaned, using a disinfectant, disinfect everything from top to bottom. We recommend using a disinfectant that’s approved for pet use.
Put everything back together, lay fresh bedding in the cage, and put their water bottle and food bowl back in.
Potty Training Your Hamster
Potty training your hamster is an effective way to keep the cage clean. This will save you time from having to clean their urine on a daily basis. Training them is quite an easy task to achieve, but will require some time for them to get used to.
As mentioned earlier, hamsters will choose a certain corner of the cage where they will urine. This is an instinctive habit that they have. In the wild, they will go to the toilet away from their burrow to keep the scent away from where they sleep.
Start by choosing a location where they will go to the toilet. It’s best to choose the corner that they been using so it’ll be easier to potty train them. Once you have the desired location picked, follow the steps below to train your hamster:
- Place the potty in the corner of the cage that you’ve chosen
- Line it with sand. The sand will help mask the smell of their urine and waste
- Pick an object with the scent of the hamster’s urine and place it inside the potty. This way, they will know where to go to urine and poop at
Keep a close eye on them every day to make sure they’re using the same location every day. It might take a few weeks until they are adapted to this new routine.
The video below shows you how simple it is to potty train your hamster.
Hamsters are one of the cleanest creatures that you can have as a pet. If you’ve picked them up to play with and they give off a bad smell, check their cage first. If you don’t see anything, it could be their gland. If so, you’ll need to take them to the veterinarian for further examination. It could lead to a more serious problem so it’s best to get your hamster’s problem taken care of as soon as possible.