How do I Know If My Hamster is Drinking Water?

hamster sips water as his owner asks "How do I Know If My Hamster is Drinking Water?"

Water is an essential part of an animal’s life and hamsters are no exception. Drinking the right quantity can enhance normal body functions including digestion, temperature regulation, waste removal, and weight management in hamsters.

Dehydration can be detrimental to your hamster’s health in numerous ways. Hence, drinking the right quantity of water at all times is critical. Keeping track of the amount of water your hamster drinks is a core responsibility of every hamster parent. 

How do I know if my hamster is drinking water? Fill a non-leaking water bottle to a certain level and check 24 hours later for signs of reduction. If the level stays the same, your hamster is not drinking. Signs of dehydration such as breathing difficulties, sunken eyes, and dry gums also become evident in hamsters being starved of water.

If you notice a couple of these signs at once, your hamster is definitely dehydrated and it is time to spring into action.

How do I Know if My Hamster is Drinking Water?

Hamsters drink 10-30ml of water daily depending on factors such as age, breed, gender, and physical activity level. The only foolproof way to know that these little pet rodents are drinking water is to catch them in the act.

Apart from that, you’ll have to rely on consistent checks to confirm that the quantity poured into the water bottle or bowl is reduced periodically.

Of course, leakages can cause the same effect which is why you have to check the water bottle or bowl thoroughly to ensure it is leak-proof. Any signs of moisture found in the bedding underneath the hamster’s water bowl and surrounding areas can be evidence of leakages.

As long as the water level diminishes in a leak-proof water bottle, you can rest easy knowing that your hamster is getting hydrated.

Why Wont My Hamster Drink His Water?

There could be several explanations for dehydration in hamsters when sufficient quantities of water are provided daily. Here are the common problems that could be discouraging your hamster from staying hydrated.

Hamster Water Bottle Dispensing Problems

Hamster water bottles come in numerous brands, shapes, and sizes. Getting the most popular brand for your beloved hamster can be tempting but does he actually need it? Remember, hamsters in the wild travel to the nearest source of water to quench their thirst.

While some water bottles may seem fancy, hamsters may find their use impractical in many ways. for instance, some water bottle spout designs can make drinking difficult by forcing these rodents to sip from awkward angles.

Finding the right position for your hamster’s water bottle in the cage may also be quite tricky. You could end up placing it too low or too high for the hammy to drink comfortably.

Water bottle malfunction is another leading cause of dehydration in hamsters. It could result in water blockage that ends up starving the pocket rodent of much-needed hydration. Unless you’re always checking and testing the water bottle to confirm proper functioning, your hamster could be deprived of water for several hours without your knowledge.

Hamsters May Refuse too Drink Water Due to Fear 

baby hamster drinks from water bottlel

These pocket rodents are less likely to eat or drink water when they feel threatened. This behavior is especially common in male Syrian hamsters in conflict. Hence, the hamster community recommends housing Syrians in separate cages, especially adult males.

Hamsters can be easily spooked by even the smallest circumstances. For instance, loud noises from humans or cars can put a lot of fear into them.

These creatures have a highly developed sense of hearing so you may want to place their cages in soundproof areas of the house if you live close to the city center or a major highway.


Stress can have a significant effect on hamsters, especially during old age. This can force them to ditch food and water. Other common signs of stress in hamsters include cage biting, fighting, and other aggressive displays.

A stressed hamster may also show physical signs such as loss of appetite which could affect its weight over the long haul.


If your hamster is suffering from significant degrees of pain due to sickness, he’s less likely to touch his food or water. These pocket rodents suffer from a wide variety of diseases and infections so you may have to wait until an official diagnosis from a vet to confirm the exact medical condition.

Nevertheless, common signs of illness include hair loss, nasal discharge, and anal or vaginal bleeding. Appetite and thirst levels should go back to normal within a few days as a response to your vet’s treatments.

Foul Tasting Water 

If the water in your hamster’s bowl tastes bad, he’ll be less inclined to drink. The water bowl or bottle should be cleaned daily and refilled with fresh water.

Sometimes, life gets in the way and we forget to do the needful. Algae may start growing in the water if left unchanged for a couple of days. This can discourage hamsters from drinking even when thirsty.

How Long Can Hamsters Go Without Water?

Hamsters can go without water for no more than 3-4 days. They eventually die from dehydration and resultant kidney failure when excess toxins accumulate in their bodies. These creatures may be pocket-sized but their endurance levels can be impressive.

However, always make sure your pets have enough food and drinking water no matter how busy life may get. If you need to travel for a few days and can’t take them along, make sure to leave your hamster in the care of a responsible friend or family member.

Signs of Dehydration in Hamsters

So you’ve just confirmed that your hamster has not been drinking water for whatever reason. But how long has he been dehydrated and how severe is his current situation?

If you’ve not checked the water level in the bottle or bowl all day, assume that he’s been deprived of water for at least 24 hours.

Here are a couple of clues to deduce the severity of dehydration in your hamster.

  • Check the current water level and compare it to the last time you monitored it. If there hasn’t been any decline since, the hamster could be severely dehydrated.
  • Take a look at the hamster’s eyes for signs of sunkennes. That could be confirmation that the dehydration level could be severe.
  • Pinch the hamster’s neck or another soft area of the body to monitor how long it takes for the shape to recover. If it happens quickly, dehydration levels may not be as severe as previously thought and vice versa.

How to Get Your Hamster to Drink Water

Hamsters need to drink water in the right quantities to enhance normal body functioning. If your hamster is refusing to stay hydrated for any reason, it is time to take matters into your hands. Here are the best ways to get rebel hamsters to drink water.

Ditch the Water Bottle for a Water Bowl

If your hamster is struggling to drink from a water bottle, switching to a water dish can be a smart move. As previously discussed, several issues can arise from the use of water bottles so do not hesitate to make a change.

Sometimes, hamsters may just struggle to use the fancy water bottles no matter how hard you try to train them. Water bottle malfunction can also impede the little creature’s access to water.

While training is always an option for teaching hamsters how to use water bottles, alternatives such as water dishes or bowls can make life easier for everyone.

Change the Water Daily 

Your hamster’s water bowl or water bottle needs to be refilled daily for several reasons. There’s always a chance that foreign particles such as litter, feces, and urine may contaminate the water.

This can change the taste and scent while exposing hamsters to potential bacterial infections. Hamsters have a great sense of smell so they can easily get discouraged from drinking contaminated and stinky water.

Watery Fruits and Vegetables 

apples offer hydration for hamsters refusing to drink water

Sometimes, your hamster may refuse to drink from his water bottle or water dish regardless of how hard you try. Fruits and vegetables such as apples, watermelons, and cucumbers may offer adequate levels of hydration while you figure out how to get the little guy to drink traditional water.

Make sure fruits and vegetables are consumed in moderation and remove any seeds before placing them in a hamster’s food bowl.

Be Patient 

In many instances, hamsters may refuse to eat or drink as a result of fear. If your pocket rodent has just arrived in your home from a pet store or animal charity, it could take some time before he gets comfortable enough with the new surroundings.

Eating and drinking can be minimal at best and patience will be the best course of action at this point. Over time, the hamster should learn to be comfortable in the new environment which often translates to normal functioning including eating and drinking.

Comfort Your Hamster

Fear can cause hamsters to lose interest in eating and drinking. Sometimes, a bit of reassurance is all these little rodents need to know that they’re safe. If your hamster is refusing to eat suddenly, spending more time with him can be reassuring in many instances.

Your hamster’s hydration struggles could also be the result of an illness so a quick visit to your vet should be considered.


Hamsters require 10 ml of water per 100 gram of body weight daily to stay healthy. It is vital that your hamster drinks sufficient quantities of water to ensure proper blood circulation, temperature regulation, and weight management.

Constant monitoring of the water bottle or water bowl can confirm whether your hamster is staying hydrated or not. However, check for leakages in the area surrounding where the bottle is placed to rule out leakages.

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