No matter the breed, all hamsters look adorable with their fluffiness and cute size, but taking care of one is not a piece of cake. They can easily get stressed, sick, or bothered by changes. Sometimes, they respond to these situations by drinking too much water.
Hamsters drink so much water because of their environment, activity, or diet. They may also do so because they are sick or have illnesses such as diabetes. They may also be depressed, which leads to excessive drinking behavior.
This article will discuss many possible reasons why your hamster is drinking an excessive amount of water and what you should do if that happens.
There is an extensive range of reasons why your hamster may be drinking more water than it usually does. You may find a remedy by yourself for some of them, but others may be more serious and need a veterinarian’s or expert’s advice.
Hamsters can be pretty sensitive to temperatures. They can suffer from heat stress, especially during the summer. Just like us, too much heat can make them more thirsty and cause them to drink more water than usual.
Be especially mindful of this if you live somewhere prone to excessively high temperatures such as Phoenix, Arizona, or Las Vegas, Nevada. Ensure you keep your hamster’s habitat in a temperature-regulated area.
Aside from drinking too much water, the other signs of heat stress include weakness and lethargy or sluggishness. Lack of appetite, weight loss, and a wet, greasy coat may also be indicators. You should also check if they prefer to sleep outside of their house, in the open.
To better protect your fur friend from heat stress, you should know their ideal temperature.
The ideal temperature for hamsters is around 20 °C – 25 °C (68 °F – 77 °F). However, they can tolerate temperatures up to 35 °C (95 °F) if the area is well-ventilated.
If your hamster is experiencing heat stress, you may help them relieve the heat by moving their cage to a cooler area. You may also place them on top of a damp, but not cold, towel. You may also spray them with room temperature water or feed them wet foods like cucumber or seedless watermelon.
You may also try to rehydrate your pet using a dropper with water. However, be careful in doing so and avoid drowning their lungs.
Hamsters, especially the young ones, tend to be more active during the night. They like to run around or exercise.
Just like us, hamsters like to drink more water after being too active. If you observe your pet drinking more water after an exercise or play, that’s normal.
In a study conducted by Kutscher et al., it was discovered that if hamsters’ food was restricted, they would develop excessive thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria) in a few days. Thus, make sure that your hamster is provided with an adequate amount of food to avoid developing these conditions.
However, in giving food, make sure that it is safe for them and in the appropriate amounts.
Often, hamsters are restricted to a dry diet composed of pellets or grains. Because these foods lack water, they have to drink more to gain the hydration they need. You can feed them wet foods like cucumbers or vegetables to have an alternative source of moisture.
So you will have a better idea of what you can feed your hamster, here are a few fruits and vegetables that are safe for them:
- Bok choy
Make sure to remove the seeds of the grapes and seeds and skins of the apples. You can feed them sweet potatoes, as well, but without the skin.
Drastic modifications to your hamster’s diet may also prompt them to consume more water than usual. For instance, introducing them to a dry diet from a diet composed of vegetables may lead them to drink more water.
Change in diet may also lead to diarrhea, which results in dehydration or loss of fluids and electrolytes.
Aside from that, changes in their diet would not only lead to excessive thirst but may also make them prone to diseases as it changes their internal flora, and therefore, their immune response.
Hamsters can become dehydrated. Dehydration is when more water is lost than consumed. Thus, responsible pet owners should provide them with adequate fresh water every day. This water should be clean and accessible for them.
To avoid dehydration, you should provide hamsters with enough water every day.
Some pet blogs state that hamsters need 10 ml (0.33 oz) of water per 100 g (0.22 lb) of hamster. Others mention they would consume 10 ml to 25 ml of water. In general, the heavier the hamster is, the more water they need. However, it may also vary per breed.
According to the article Biology and Diseases of Hamsters, Syrian or golden hamsters need around 8.5 ml (0.28 oz) of water per 100 g (0.22 lb) of hamster weight and may vary per gender.
On the other hand, Chinese hamsters would require 11.4 ml to 12.9 ml (0.38 oz to 0.43 oz) per 100 g (0.22 lb)of body, with females consuming more. Meanwhile, European hamsters would need around 5 ml (0.16 ml) of water per 100 g (0.22 lb) of hamster.
Accessibility to water is essential for hamsters. If you choose a water tube, it should be placed at a height in which even the smallest hamster could reach. You may also use a water bowl, but they may spill that or pee on it.
A stainless steel sipper tube is recommended as a water container for hamsters. Many hamsters like to chew on glass or plastic, which breaks the tube and leads them to drink more water than needed.
Also, read, What Size Wheel for Syrian Hamster
Like humans and other mammals, hamsters may also suffer from kidney problems and urinary tract infections (UTI). The older they are, the more prone they are to kidney issues. These would lead them to drink more water than usual as they try to get rid of the toxins inside their body.
Besides kidney problems or UTIs, other diseases may afflict your hamster and induce polydipsia.
Hamsters can also have diabetes due to the lack of insulin. They may be born with it, but more often, it can result from excessive sugary treats during their lifetime or an alteration in their diet.
Aside from polydipsia, they may also urinate more frequently, leading to urine staining or scalding. They may also gain weight, become lethargic, go blind, or lose hair.
You can use diabetes test sticks as an initial test. However, it is better to bring them to a veterinarian for confirmation and advice.
Wet tail is often referred to as proliferative enteritis, a bacterial infectious disease that is fatal to many hamsters. However, the term may also refer to diarrhea, a symptom of many other diseases.
This condition is characterized by wet and matted fur around the tail and abdomen. It may occur with a lack of appetite and dehydration. Hamsters may also adopt a hunched posture and have blood around their rectum or anal area.
A wet tail happens because the hamster’s body cannot absorb water properly; hence they need to drink more.
This condition affects many hamsters, especially young ones (3 to 6 weeks old). If left untreated, they may die within days or a week.
It is also transmissible through feces, so if one of your hamsters gets sick (drinks too much water, diarrhea, weak), isolate them from your other hamsters immediately.
Aside from physical afflictions, your hamster may have some mental distress that leads them to develop erratic behaviors, like excessive water consumption. Hamsters are sensitive creatures. They can easily get stressed or depressed, which may manifest as polydipsia.
If you observe your hamster drinking too much water, there are things you can do to help them. While we have discussed some specific responses, such as what to do if they are in heat stress or taking a test for diabetes, here is a general plan for you to follow.
First, you must confirm that they are, in fact, drinking too much water. As we have said, hamsters tend to chew on their water tubes, which leads to their floor getting wet and them appearing to drink a lot. Try checking their tube for damage.
Observe your hamster for a few days and if you see that they do drink more, check if they are in heat stress or if their diet is causing them to be thirsty. However, if they show other symptoms, move on to the next step.
If your hamster is also manifesting other symptoms like diarrhea or lethargy, it is best to note all of them – lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite, etc. Then take them to a veterinarian.
An expert may be able to give a diagnosis or treatment to help your furry friend.
Related Hamster articles:
- How To Keep a Hamster Warm
- How Much Does a Dwarf Hamster Cost?
- Why Is My Hamster Not Moving?
- How Big Is a Hamster?
- How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?
- How To Care for a Dwarf Hamster
There are many possible reasons why your hamster may be drinking too much water. Some situations, like diseases or UTIs, may be more concerning than others, but all require you to give attention to your pet. You need to be observant of their state and aware of their needs to respond well and accordingly.
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