Hamsters are fastidious groomers and generally clean animals. However, they need their sand baths to keep their dense coats free of dirt and grime and prevent them from looking grubby. But while keeping them clean is important, you’ll also want to ensure that you’re not harming your pet by choosing the wrong sand bath.
The right kind of sand for a hamster bath is coarse and grainy; not dusty or powdery. It’s also clumpable to make cleaning easy, and free from additives like calcium, fragrance, chemical dyes, and contaminants.
Hamsters are fragile creatures and should be kept in a clean, sanitized environment. This post will show how to buy sand for your hamster, clean it, and answer common queries like whether you can use sand meant for other species for hamster baths. Let’s get rolling.
You’ll want to choose sand that cleans the dirt and grease from your hamster’s coat without drying the fur. The sand should also be safe for the hamster.
To choose right, keep the following pointers in mind when buying sand for hamster bath:
Some brands of sand have a powdery and dust-like texture. Do not buy such sand because the fine particles can enter your pet’s eyes. Your hamster can also accidentally inhale the dust-like particles and develop respiratory issues.
Look for sand that is coarse and has a grainy texture. Coarse sand is safe for your hamster and does an adequate job of exfoliating your pet’s coat and keeping it clean.
Check the label to ensure that it does not contain words like “dust” or “powder.” Some products are marketed as low-dust sand. You can use these provided the particles are coarse, grainy, and not as fine as powder.
Buy sand specifically prepared for hamsters, or at least pocket pets. The sands mimic what is usually found in their natural habitats. Hamster sand is made dust-free, with particles coarse enough for deep exfoliation.
Do not use cat litter for hamster baths. Cat litter may be less expensive than specialized hamster sand, but the former is made of large particles that cannot remove dirt and grease from your hamster’s dense fur.
Many small animals like hamsters enjoy rolling around in the sand. They don’t need to be enticed with fragrances to do that.
The fragrance in some brands of hamster sand is meant for humans. The scent is added to mask the odor of sand that the hamster may have peed or pooped on.
Still, you should choose fragrance-free sand for your hamster. Fragrances introduce chemical particles into the sand that can irritate the delicate nasal lining of your pet.
If keeping the sand clean and odor-free is an issue, I will explain how to do it later on. Hang in there.
Your hamster doesn’t need additional nutrients like calcium. It gets its nutrition from the food it eats.
Besides, there have been reports of hamsters developing intestinal blockages after ingesting calcium sand. That alone is enough reason to ensure you buy hamster sand that does not contain calcium.
As the name suggests, clumpable sand is like some cat litter that clumps when it gets wet and dirty. Clumpable sand makes it convenient for you to keep the hamster sand bath clean.
The clumped sand lets you spot what needs to be removed, so you can scoop it up and throw it away. In short, clumping sand makes the cleaning job quick and mess-free.
Although hamsters love playing in the sand, some may be finicky and refuse to bathe in some types of sand. Do not buy sand in bulk until you are confident that your pet will use it. This saves you money.
Scanning labels is a tedious and time-intensive task. To help you choose the right product for your pet, below are my top picks for hamster sand:
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Bathing Sand
This sand from Supreme Pet Foods, available on Amazon.com, is a dust-free natural product and does not contain bacteria. It is soft on your pet’s skin and effective as an exfoliating medium.
Kaytee Chinchilla Bath Sand
This sand may be for chinchillas, but it is also suitable for hamsters because it is almost dust-free. Made from 100% natural volcanic mountain pumice, it is an excellent exfoliating medium that keeps your pet’s coat squeaky clean.
You’ll find Kaytee Chinchilla Bath Sand on Amazon.com, in an easy-to-pour packet.
Zoo Med ReptiSand
This natural terrarium sand can be used for your hamster sand bath. The sand contains no added dyes or chemicals and is safe for the delicate organs of your pet.
The sand clumps when it gets wet, making it easy for you to spot where to scoop it out from and throw it away. Like the above suggestions, Zoo Med ReptiSand is available on Amazon.com.
Niteangel Hamster Desert Bath
This product from Niteangel is made of real desert sand. It is natural and contains no added dyes, fragrances, or other chemicals. It is also dust-free.
The best part is that the sand is soft on your pet’s fur, yet coarse enough to give it a deep and thorough scrub as it rolls and plays around. Niteangel Hamster Desert Bath is available on Amazon.com.
You can use beach sand for a hamster bath if the sand is not fine and dust-like. However, you shouldn’t use beach sand if you are not sure it is free from contaminants like dog urine that can harbor bacteria and parasites. If you suspect contaminants, bake the sand to disinfect it.
I will explain how to bake sand for a hamster bath in a later section of the article. But before we get to that, let’s review the disadvantages of using beach sand for hamster baths.
The texture of sand varies across beaches in the US. The soft fluffy sands on the beaches along Florida’s central and southwest Gulf coast are too fine to use for a hamster sand bath.
If you live near the beach, ensure that you check the texture of the sand before using it for a hamster sand bath.
Beach sand can contain contaminants like animal excreta that harbor harmful disease-causing pathogens.
Hamsters are delicate creatures and can quickly become sick if exposed to pathogens.
The sand on most of Florida’s beaches is made of quartz crystals. Although the texture may seem just right for use in a hamster sand bath, you need to remember that mixed in the sand are shell fragments, coral limestone fossils, and organic matter.
Limestone is composed of various compounds of calcium, which your hamster doesn’t need more of if it is already eating a balanced diet.
Although beach sand can absorb moisture, it has no clumping property. That means if you use it, cleaning your hamster’s sand bath will be time-consuming and messy.
On the other hand, sand prepared exclusively for hamsters and other small animals usually clumps when it gets wet, making cleaning easy.
You can use chinchilla sand for hamsters because both species bathe in sand in their natural habitats. However, you must ensure that you are not buying chinchilla dust that looks like fine gray sand because it can be harmful to your hamster’s respiratory system.
As long as you look for a product that says chinchilla bath sand, your hamster will be safe bathing in it. Chinchillas bathe in sand or dust to keep their fur and coats clean and dry; pretty much the same reason hamsters do it.
You can use reptile sand for hamsters if it does not contain additives like calcium, dyes, or other chemicals. Reptile sand is available in online stores and exotic pet stores. However, you must ensure that the sand is not very fine or powdery.
Store shelves are teeming with sand advertised as being safe for hamsters. However, you cannot be sure that they are free from contaminants. Unless you buy a product from a well-known brand, it’s always advisable to disinfect the sand.
You have to bake sand for a hamster to disinfect it. Baking also ensures that the sand is completely dry, which is a plus because moist sand is often a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and microbes.
Here’s what you need to bake sand:
- An aluminum baking pan or tray
- An oven
- A spoon to check the sand
You can use a deep-bottomed pan to bake a large amount of sand in one go and save time. Here’s how to go about it:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). This step is optional, but highly recommended if you’re in a hurry. If you do not preheat the oven, you must allow an additional baking time of at least 20 minutes.
- Remove debris or large particles from the sand. Sift the sand to remove large particles that may injure a tiny hamster. Any debris in the sand can also catch fire during the baking process.
- Pour the sand into the baking pan or tray. Ensure that you sprinkle the sand evenly in the pan or the tray. The container can be heavy to lift after you have poured the sand. It is a good idea to place it on the oven rack and then pour the sand.
- Bake for an hour or an hour and a half at 350-400°F (177-204°C). Afterward, remove the sand from the oven and cool it.
- Check to make sure the sand is completely dry. Use some sand to fill up your hamster’s bath and store the rest in a sturdy plastic bag.
Here’s a video by YouTube user HammyLux on how to disinfect your hamster’s sand:
You can reuse hamster sand 2-3 times. However, you must clean it thoroughly before reusing it.
Here’s how you can clean hamster sand:
- If you use clumpable sand, scoop out and throw away the sand clumps.
- Sift the sand through a mesh sifter to remove large debris.
- Soak the sand in a bowl of clean water.
- Let the sand sit in water for about three minutes.
- Drain the water.
- Place the sand in a baking dish or tray.
- Bake the sand.
- Ensure that the sand is completely dry and cool before putting it back in the hamster bath.
- Add more sand to replenish the amount you had thrown out.
Here’s a video by YouTube user Hammy Time that demonstrates how to wash hamster sand:
If your hamster doesn’t use the sand bath as its bathroom, you can skip the washing and baking parts. Just scoop out the clumped bits and sift the sand every 2-3 days.
However, you must replace the sand every week or so, depending on the type of hamster you have. Syrian hamsters typically do not have the habit of bathing in sand. If you have one as a pet, you don’t have to replace the sand every week. Changing it once every three weeks will suffice.
Remember to clean the bathing dish when cleaning or replacing the sand. Ensure that the container is dry before you refill it with sand.
To keep the sand cleaner for extended periods, ensure that you don’t keep the sand bath in your pet’s cage for too long. Remove the sand after your hamster has bathed to prevent your pet from pooping or peeing in it.
Taking care of your pet hamster needn’t be complicated. You just have to mimic its natural habitat and let it indulge in activities it typically enjoys in the wild.
Even if they are clean, hamsters love rolling and playing in sand. Besides keeping it active and engaged, sand bathing also helps keep a hamster’s fur free of dirt and grease without drying it out.
The right sand for a hamster bath should be:
- Coarse and grainy
- Free of chemicals
- Free of calcium
You may like the following hamster articles:
- How Can You Tell How Old Your Hamster Is?
- What Fruits Can Hamsters Eat
- How To Wake Up a Hamster
- What Can I Give My Hamster To Chew On?
- How To Keep a Hamster Cage From Smelling
- Where To Adopt a Hamster?
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