Keeping a hamster warm is one of the most important responsibilities of any owner in the United States of America. Hamsters aren’t used to living in very cold habitats, and if their environment gets too cold, they can become seriously ill or even die.
To keep a hamster warm, it’s necessary to have the proper heating equipment and a safe environment, including a non-drafty cage and plenty of bedding material.
In this article, I’ll go over some of the basics of keeping a hamster warm, including the difference between heat lamps and heating pads. I’ll also go over what bedding to use to keep your pet comfortable, both while it’s out exploring and while it’s sleeping in its cage.
Hamsters don’t do well in cold environments, so it’s important to be aware of the temperature in your hamster’s cage.
The best way to keep a hamster warm is with an external heat source such as a ceramic heater. Additionally, proper bedding provides excellent insulation against temperature changes.
Heat lamps are generally considered safer than heat pads because they can be adjusted to release more or less heat depending on how warm your hamster’s home should be. In contrast, heating pads will steadily release warmth until you turn them off or unplug them.
Keeping your hamster warm isn’t just important in the winter or during the colder months of the year, though. Without proper insulation or an external heat source, temperature changes can be dangerous even during the summer months, considering you’ll likely have an air conditioner running in your home.
Hamsters are most at risk of developing respiratory illnesses when the temperature drops below 65 °F (18.33 °C), so it’s vital to ensure that they’re kept warm enough at all times.
Ensure there are no dangers of fire by placing heating lamps out of reach of items that could catch on fire. Check your hamster frequently to make sure they’re not getting too hot.
A heating lamp with a reflective dome cover over it will be safer than other types, as the metal parts will be protected from bedding materials catching on fire. Since most cages have plastic parts near the bottom, this method is considered safest for keeping your pet warm during the winter months.
Never leave your pet unattended when using any type of lamp or heating device. Heat lamps must be used with caution; make sure that if you decide to use one, it’s hung at least 48 inches (121.92 cm) above the floor of the cage. If you place a heat lamp too close to your hamster’s cage bedding materials, there’s a risk of fire.
Place your hamster’s sleeping area in a draft-free location, where they can easily get away from the cold air if necessary. If you’re using a wire cage, place the bedding on or under things that will block drafts, such as books or cardboard boxes. This will ensure that your pet doesn’t need to sleep on top of the cold floor of its cage.
If you want to use a heating pad, make sure it’s kept in the lowest possible setting. Also, keep an eye on your pet when they’re sleeping; you should always be able to see their body movements while they’re snuggled into the warmth of their bedding.
If your hamster isn’t using its heating pad properly or you want to stop using one altogether, leave an area in the cage-free of bedding for a couple of days. Most hamsters will choose this area overheated areas because of their comfort and safety.
Once your hamster has adapted to the new conditions, remove all but one choice location in which to build its nest. This way, your pet goes back to building nests in the heat source.
To keep your hamster warm, proper bedding is necessary. This isn’t just for your hamster’s comfort but also to ensure that they don’t develop health problems such as pneumonia.
If you use a glass tank, you must put something under it so that your pet can get away from drafts and cold if necessary. Avoid using wood chips or sawdust because these materials absorb moisture and humidity, which will cause respiratory problems in your pet.
The ideal bedding for hamsters is aspen shavings or timothy hay. This type of bedding is generally made from the fur and soft tissue that’s removed from aspen trees during commercial logging operations. It should also be noted, however, that aspen wood does contain petroleum hydrocarbons which can be toxic to small animals such as hamsters if ingested in large quantities.
Additionally, there are other benefits to using aspen wood for your hamster’s bedding, such as its natural absorbency and ability to suppress bacterial growth due to its antifungal properties.
When hamsters get too cold, they start to shiver. This is its body’s way of trying to warm itself up. If your hamster doesn’t move into a warmer area, it’ll continue to shiver until it has reached the lowest possible body temperature (hypothermia).
At this point, your hamster may become lethargic and stop moving around. It may also lose its appetite. Once the body begins to cool down like this, it can be difficult for it to warm back up again without assistance.
Make sure that you don’t let your hamster get anywhere near these temperatures! If you notice any symptoms of hypothermia in your pet, immediately provide them with something that’ll absorb heat in their environment.
This could be a hot water bottle or heating pad set on low. A few towels soaked in warm water will do the trick as well. Make sure that the towels are not hot, and then place them beneath your hamster’s cage and cover them with a blanket.
Be careful not to place it over their cage, as they’ll attempt to climb on top of it and could accidentally burn themselves if they get too close.
If you still notice symptoms, check for breathing difficulties and wrap your pet up in a towel or blanket to conserve heat while rushing to see an exotics vet near you.
If you suspect that your hamster is too cold, look out for signs like shivering or lethargy. These can indicate that your pet is suffering, is in serious trouble, and needs immediate help.
If your hamster is lethargic, with a lack of appetite, or a baby with no energy to squeak, pick it up and put it in a warm place. It may be suffering from hypothermia.
Hamsters are more likely to suffer from cold when they’re wet. They should be dried off immediately if found in water, even if they seem fine.
If you live in an area where temperatures routinely go below 40 °F (4.44 °C), it’s especially important to keep your hamster warm by using both heating equipment and bedding materials.
If you have to choose one or the other, pick the heating equipment first. It’s better to have a cold hamster than no hamster at all!
The temperature inside your hamster cage should stay between 65 – 75 °F (18.33 – 23.89 °C) at all times. Keeping a proper temperature promotes a healthy environment free from bacteria or mold growth and also encourages your hamster’s natural foraging behavior.
In the wild, hamsters live in large underground dens, which maintain a constant temperature of 70 – 75 °F (21.11 – 23.89 °C).
Although ambient air temperature is essential, it’s not as important as a location to keep your hamster at a healthy temperature. As such, you shouldn’t be afraid to locate your hamster’s cage near an external heat source such as a radiator or portable heating appliance if necessary.
Just make sure that there’s enough room between the enclosure and the external heat source so that the surrounding air doesn’t become too hot.
Hamster cages should also include several water bottles and a nesting area. The nesting area should be big enough to comfortably fit your hamster and its food supply.
Making sure that drafty areas are sealed off will help keep them warm during cold nights and days. You can also use heating pads on low under certain parts of the cage floor, particularly beneath their sleeping/nesting area and water bottle(s) if necessary.
Related Hamsters articles:
- How To Tell if a Hamster Is Pregnant
- How Much Does a Dwarf Hamster Cost?
- Why Is My Hamster Not Moving?
- How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?
- Why Is My Hamster Squeaking?
- How Long Can a Hamster Go Without a Wheel?
Keeping your hamster warm is easily accomplished if you take the proper precautions. Keep them in a draft-free area, and make sure that they always have access to water and their nesting area (which should be roomy enough for your hamster to fit into comfortably).
Making sure that your pet has the right housing is an important step in keeping it warm. Your hamster’s cage should be larger than necessary, so there’s plenty of room for nesting areas and food containers.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more