How Long Can a Hamster Go Without Water?

Hamsters are adorable furry companions and may require as much attention as cats and dogs. Like other pets, hamsters need their basic needs met—like getting enough food or water; and like humans, hamsters need to stay hydrated, too. But if you’re not at home 24 hours a day, you may wonder how long you can leave your hamster without water, especially when your hamster’s water runs out while you’re away.

A hamster should go no longer than three or four days without water. Ideally, it should get fresh water every day. Always check how much the water bottle in your hamster’s cage will hold. Hamsters should drink around 10 mL (0.34 oz) of water daily.

If you plan on leaving town for a few days, be sure to fill your hamster’s water bottle all the way up so that you aren’t risking dehydrating your hamster. Just because a hamster can typically go three to four days without water, that doesn’t mean it should. Read on as I discuss further water and hydration for hamsters.

How Many Days Can Your Hamster Go Without Water?

You might find yourself worried about leaving your hamster while going on vacation to any city in the United States of America. It’s easier to take dogs and cats on a flight than it would be rodent-like, and while dogs love hiking and camping, your hamster would probably rather stay home.

Not to mention, paying for a pet sitter makes more sense when there’s a litter box to clean or a dog to walk, but hiring a sitter for a hamster can be expensive.

So if you’re leaving for a few days, what’ll happen to your hamster? If your hamster finishes all its water, will it die?

Your hamster can go without water for three to four days only. You should give your hamster 10 mL (0.34 oz) of water daily. Some hamsters may drink more or drink less. Even so, ideally, they should never go without fresh water.

Again, this is a general rule for hamsters. Some hamsters might drink more, and some hamsters might drink less. However, you should be cautious if you’re worried about your little critter.

If you aren’t going on vacation and are more worried that you haven’t seen your hamster drinking anything, rest assured that it may just be drinking when you aren’t looking. You can gently pinch your hamster skin to see if it’s dehydrated.

You’ll know your hamster needs more water if its skin continues sticking up after you pinch it, kind of like a tent. If you’re worried about the hydration of your hamster, you can always go check in with a vet. Sometimes, refusing water can be a sign of an illness lingering.

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A Hamster Needs About 10 mL of Water per Day

In general, hamsters need about 10 mL (0.34 0z) of water each day.

All hamsters are different, just like people and pets. If your hamster is constantly running on its wheel, it may be drinking more. If your hamster is uninterested in physical activity and just likes to laze around, it may not be drinking as much.

A dehydrated hamster might seem sickly, tired, or even confused. You can take your hamster to a vet to see if it’s dehydrated. If you notice your hamster isn’t drinking water or that no water has left its water bottle, talk to your vet about it. Refusal to drink water can also signify diabetes or a condition known as the wet tail.

You should check with a professional if you think your hamster is unwell, but some pet owners say that they’ve helped their hamsters become more hydrated by adding sugar to their water or using Pedialyte. It would only be a short-term solution, to be used once or twice, as extra sugar in a hamster’s diet can cause diabetes.

Additionally, hamsters should also be getting freshwater, so even if their little water bottle has a lot of water in it, you might want to refill it every once and a while so the water doesn’t get stale. You should also clean out the water bottle weekly so that no bacteria can grow within the bottle.

Consider Getting a Hanging Water Bottle for Your Hamster

If you plan on being out for a couple of days or even longer, you can look for a larger water bottle for your hamster. A hanging water bottle is recommended for hamsters, as water bottles can get dirty easier and might be a drowning hazard. 

You might think the right solution to leaving your hamster alone for a few days is to get a big water bottle or even two.

Hamsters need around 10 mL (0.34 oz) of water each day, so a large hanging water bottle with about 300 mL (10.14 oz) should last about 30 days. However, this doesn’t account for leakage or when the hamster drinks more.

Additionally, the water wouldn’t be fresh, and bacteria may grow within the water bottle if it’s not cleaned out. It can cause a litany of other medical issues for your hamster and decrease its life quality.

Read Why Did My Hamster Die?

How Long Can Your Hamster Go Without Fresh Food?

Leaving your hamster with a giant bowl of food may seem like a good idea if you’re leaving town, but it may have more consequences than benefits. Going out of town without filling up their bowl isn’t an option. So what should you do?

Your hamster can usually go without fresh food for more than four days—your hamster might need less or more, depending on how big it is. You should always feed your hamster with fresh food every day or change out its food weekly.

However, leaving a giant bowl of food may attract pests or tempt your hamster into eating more than they’re used to. If you plan on leaving for a while, you should try to find someone to replace their food and water every few days. Or, if possible, see if someone can watch them at their place for the duration of your trip.

Even though hamsters can go a few days without food, you shouldn’t test their limits. They may be little, but they deserve as much care as a dog or a cat, and you wouldn’t leave either without food for more than a day.

How Long Can a Hamster Go Without Water
How Long Can a Hamster Go Without Water

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You Must Always Keep Your Hamster’s Cage, Food, and Water Clean

Hamsters usually eat about 12 g (0.03 lb) of food a day, but this too depends on their size and age—it’s about a tablespoon (15 g) of food per day. Depending on how big your hamster’s food bowl is, a bowl full might last quite a few days. Hamsters should get a well-balanced diet, so look for high-quality food with lots of vitamins.

If you have a good-sized bowl, a bowl full might last a few days. It may be tempting to fill the bowl to the brim and wait for it to empty, but you should just put in enough for a few days. If you put in too much food, your hamster may eat too much.

Your hamster’s food also may lose quality after being out in the open air for a few days. Hamsters also pee and poop wherever, so you risk your hamster eating its feces if you don’t give it fresh food every few days.

In addition to food and water, your hamster will need its cage cleaned weekly. Hamsters are constantly pooping and peeing, and having too much waste in the cage can cause them to get sick. Additionally, coming home to a smelly hamster cage is probably an unpleasant experience.

Especially if you leave your hamster without much supervision, it’ll likely make a mess in its cage. So before leaving your hamster alone at home, consider these issues.

Read How to keep a hamster warm at night

Conclusion

If you’re going on vacation, worried about your furry friend, or just curious about your hamster, a general rule is that hamsters should never go three or four days without fresh water. Typically, hamsters need about 10 mL (0.34 oz) of water each day.

Hamsters also shouldn’t go without food for three or four days, and you may want to be cautious about just filling up a large bowl and leaving. If possible, just have someone go in to check on the hamster every few days to replace their food and water.

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