I remember the first time I held my hamster. Her fur was so soft, and she smelled so clean. As the day passes, I watch my hamster clean herself by grooming her coat and using her sandbath. But I often wonder, is this enough to keep her clean?
In this article, we’ll discuss about:
- hamster grooming
- do hamsters clean themselves
- how to wash a hamster (properly)
- what sandbath is safe to use
- which sandbath to avoid
- how often to change hamster’s sand and more
HAMSTER GROOMING AND HYGIENE
When it comes to keeping your hamster clean, it involves regular cleaning and maintenance of the fur, nails, skin, teeth, and cage. It’s vital to have a regular inspection of your hamster to prevent issues such as mites, skin infections that would cause fur loss, overgrown nails and teeth, and other health problems.
Do hamsters clean themselves
Yes, hamsters love cleaning themselves. Just like cats, a hamster would use their rough tongue to clean her coat. Hamsters would also use their hands to shake off dirt and dust off their fur and skin.
Finally, a hamster would know when to go to the sandbox to remove the oils and other dirt from their body. You will notice your hamster rolling around the litterbox to ensure they are cleaning every inch of its body.
How to wash a hamster
You should never wash your hamster or use any water or wet cloth to clean your pet hamster. Another thing that a hamster shares with cats regarding grooming are how they loathe getting wet.
There are videos of hamsters “swimming” in a sink or bathtub. While hamsters can swim by paddling around, they are doing this to get out of the water and go to a dry space. Hamsters are not swimming because they’re having fun but because they are scared of drowning.
Hamsters’ coats are super thick for the body size. This means that drying your pet’s fur will take a long time. Exposure to having a wet coat for a long period of time can lead to cold, torpor (hibernation), and other health issues.
Instead of cleaning of a hamster with water, the safest and best way is to place a sandbox inside the hamster’s cage and fill it with a non-toxic, non-dust sand bath. Your hamster will know exactly what to do with it.
It might take a few days, but you’ll see your hamster rolling around the sand to remove oil from its fur and clean its skin. Your pet will also use the sand for peeing, which will make it very smelly and dirty.
This is when you must remember to empty the sandbox, clean it, and then refill it with fresh sand at least three times a week or as often as needed.
Hamster nail trimming
Hamster’s nails grow forever and fast. It’s vital that you help your pet keep their nails at a healthy length. Though the nails help hamsters to clean their coat and skin, having nails that are too long can cause more damage than good.
A hamster with long nails could accidentally scratch its face. I remember seeing my hamster Goerge with a red line on her head. For days, I couldn’t figure out what happened until one morning, when I watched her, she would run her paws through her skin, and I noticed that her nails were insanely long!
I learnt that I should have been keeping an eye on her nails. Luckily, it was just a small accident at that time.
There are three ways you can trim your pet’s nails: via a vet, using a nail trimming yourself, and using rocks inside the cage.
You can simply bring your hamster to the vet once every month to cut the nails, but it could easily cost too much. You can instead ask your vet to show you how to cut the nails and then buy your own pet nail cutter – although it’s not advisable if you’re scared of your pet or your hamster is often skittish.
The best option is to set up a nail care salon inside the cage where you put rocks around, The more frequently your hamster passes through the rocks, the better. The stones will help trim the nails whenever your pet walks through them. Read our nail care guide for hamsters and the list of best rocks for hamsters.
Teeth maintenance of hamsters
Luckily, you don’t have to brush your hamster’s teeth to keep it clean (sorry, dog person). The only thing you need to do is make sure that your hamster has plenty of chew toys to keep its teeth well-trimmed.
Just like hamsters’ nails, their teeth continuously grow fast as well. The chew toys will grind the teeth at the right length to keep them strong.
Don’t panic if you notice that your hamster’s teeth are yellow or orange, it’s actually a sign that it’s healthy teeth.
One of the scariest results of a hamster’s teeth growing too long is the fact that your pet won’t be able to close its mouth or eat properly. This could lead to stress, malnutrition, and depression.
The biggest concern is when the teeth can no longer grow towards the ground, they will start growing upwards, risking damaging your hamster’s brain and skull.
When choosing the right chew toys, you can provide 4-5 chew toys for your hamster. Three of them should be a hard chew toys like Whimzees, and then two softer toys similar to rice pops. We have a list of recommended chew toys for hamsters.
ALSO READ: How to stop your hamster from bar biting
Inspecting skin/coat for mites or skin problems
Hamsters are good at keeping their fur and skin clean, but it’s not immune to mites and other skin problems. Hamsters normally get exposed to mites and other insects through sand, bedding, and dry mix.
These products usually carry mites which can get to your hamster easily. This is why you must inspect the bedding, sand, and dry mix before putting it inside the cage.
For the sandbath, it’s best to bake it first to kill any mites. When it comes to bedding, you can freeze it to ensure the termination of those bugs. A dry mix can be different and a bit more complicated.
The best thing you can do is to inspect them one by one. You can use a strainer since most bugs are smaller than the items inside a dry mix. You can also spread the dry mix on a white cloth or paper towel to see any moving mites easily.
Cleaning the cage
Finally, clean your hamster’s cage. This task is one of the most important when it comes to hamster grooming and hygiene. Hamsters are always active, eating, pooping, and always sleeping. They simply spend so much time inside their cage.
Between the sweat, poop, pee, and humid or restricted airflow, moist and dirt can lead to growing bacteria inside your pet’s enclosure. This issue could lead to stress and other health problems.
This is the reason why you must perform cage cleaning. Sport cleaning is when you simply tidy up the cage, change the sand, and refill the food and water. This should be done 2-3 times a week. Deep cleaning is when you remove everything, clean the cage, and change the bedding. This should done once every 5 or 6 weeks.
Hamsters are obsessed with keeping their enclosure clean. You will notice that your pet will start being a bit more aggressive or stressed when its cage smells. Not only a clean home is good for a hamster’s general health, but it also contributes to its mental health.
We have a complete guide that dives deep into cleaning a hamster’s cage. This will help you understand how to properly and safely clean a hamster’s house. We also have a hamster task planner that will assist you in keeping on top of your hamster to-do list.
SUMMARY ON HAMSTER GROOMING NAD HYGIENE
The top things you need to remember when it comes to grooming is hamsters are their: teeth, coat, nails, cage cleaning, and skin.
Hamsters are 80% self sufficient when it comes to looking after their hygiene. However, they still need your help to make sure that they are clean and well-groomed to be sure that your pet is happy and healthy.
I hope that this article bout hamster grooming and hygiene helped you understand what kind of assistance your pet needs from you to live an enjoyable life with you.