Yes – but not in the way you might imagine. Unlike most other pets, hamsters don’t require a water bath. This is simply how they’ve evolved, and washing can actually remove important molecules from your hamster’s coat. This could lead to skin problems.
You only need to give your hamster a water bath if he has something stuck in his coat. Something toxic on the fur could cause serious problems when the fastidious hamster grooms himself with his tongue.
It’s not a good idea for children to carry out the hamster coat cleaning. The animals are very small and can easily wriggle from the hands. Use just a little lukewarm water and gently rub and wash the affected areas of fur. Never submerge your hamster’s head in the water, as they can easily drown. For more advie on fur cleaning, check out the How Do I Clean My Hamster's Fur? section of this Guide.
Water baths are not part of a hamster hygiene regime, but a sand bath is like a hamster health spa!
If the smell of the hamster cage is making you think in terms of a water bath for your furry friend, try cleaning out the cage more often instead. The odors usually come from stale bedding and dry urine, not from the hamster itself.
Possible Health Issues With Messy Or Dirty Hamsters
If your hamster his dirt in a certain area of its body, or looks very messy very suddenly, it might not be a simple case of cleaning. There could be an underlying health problem causing the hygiene issue. For example, blood on the rear end of the animal could indicate a problem with its bowels or genitals.
It’s advisable to be aware of common health conditions, so that you can spot potential problems quickly. One particularly nasty condition associated with wetness or fecal matter on the bottom is known as Wet Tail. It can prove fatal, so a keen eye to spot the early warning signs is important.
Hamster Sand Baths
Sand bathing is something most hamsters love. It’s what they would do in the wild. Some pet stores sell special sand for this purpose, but if you can’t source any hamster-specific sand products, chinchilla sand does the job just as well.
The sand needs to be fine, but not dusty. Dust particles can get stuck in your pet’s nose and mouth, which can cause health issues.
To create a sand bath, spoon the stuff into a bowl big enough for your pet to fit in comfortably. Place your hamster in the bowl, if he hasn’t rushed there himself already, and nine times out of ten he will wriggle and roll his way through a lovely sand bath session. If he climbs out and walks away without bathing, leave the bowl in the enclosure for a while. The hamster will probably get round to it soon enough. Every now and then you’ll find an individual hamster who simply doesn’t like sand baths, but that’s quite unusual.