How Long Can a Hamster Go Without Water?

Written by Doug Shaffer
Published: August 8, 2023
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Hamsters are wonderful pets for children and adults alike. They are low maintenance and don’t require as much attention as a dog. However, there are still several things you’ll need to be mindful of to ensure your pet lives a happy and healthy life. 

For example, hamsters are surprisingly a very active pet for their size. They’ll need equipment like exercise wheels or hamster balls to run around in to keep a healthy lifestyle. Along with daily exercise, hamsters also require frequent food and water. Most hamsters will pass away within 3-4 days if they don’t have access to drinking water. 

Throughout the remainder of the article will look at how much water hamsters need and how to tell when your pet hamster is starting to experience dehydration. 

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Campbell's dwarf hamster

Dwarf hamsters are a smaller breed that requires less water than other types of hamsters.

©Vinicius R. Souza/Shutterstock.com

How Often Does a Hamster Need Water?

Like other household pets, hamsters need consistent access to water to survive. These little guys will average drink between 10 to 30 milliliters of water each day. While that only equals out to about an ounce of water, it’s still important to check each morning that their water is clean and full. 

What’s the Best Way to Provide Water for a Hamster?

The best way to supply your hamster with consistent access to fresh water is through a water bottle. Not only do the bottles easily attach to the cage, but they also only dispense water when your hamster is ready to drink. 

Keeping a Hamster Hydrated while on Vacation

Since hamsters don’t require the same attention as a dog or cat, leaving them home alone for a couple of days while you go on vacation is possible. However, it’s important to make sure you prepare everything ahead of time, which means leaving enough food and water for them to enjoy during your absence. 

Even though they can survive without interacting with people, having someone check on your hamster every day or every other day is still recommended. Having a person you trust visit with your furry friend will not only give them a little company but can also help detect potentially dangerous situations like a cracked or leaking water bottle. 

Does Breed and Age Affect the Amount of Water a Hamster Needs?

Breed and age significantly affect the amount of daily water a hamster will need. For instance, Dwarf hamsters are a much smaller type of hamster that often weigh around 50 grams. Since hamsters typically drink 10 ml per 100 grams of their body weight, a Dwarf hamster only needs about 5 ml of water daily. 

Similarly, younger hamsters will naturally drink less water than their adult counterparts. Once they fully mature, then their water intake should level off to around 10-30ml a day. 

Can a Hamster Experience Dehydration?

Like other mammals, hamsters need to drink water to survive. Without access to water, your pet hamster could quickly start to experience signs of dehydration. However, other factors could cause your hamster to become dehydrated, such as diabetes, wet-tail disease, or excessive drooling. 

If you notice your hamster is acting weird or hasn’t drunk from their water bottle in a day, you should look for signs of dehydration, which include:

  • Noticeable mouth breathing or panting
  • Loose or sagging skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased urine output or darker urine
  • Lack of interest in grooming
  • Constipation
  • Loss of balance and coordination

Treating a Dehydrated Hamster

Since a hamster can succumb to dehydration within a matter of days, it’s always a good idea to take them to a vet for care. While most vets only work with dogs and cats, unless they are an “exotics” vet, any veterinary clinic should be able to help rehydrate your hamster. 

Typically, after an examination, the vet will administer fluids to your hamster via a shot. You may notice an almost immediate uptick in their energy level, but it often takes an hour or so for most hamsters to start feeling better. Once back home, monitoring your pet for signs of continuous dehydration is important. 

If your hamster starts to suffer from dehydration again, there’s a possibility they have an underlying condition that is causing an inability to retain water or drink properly. 

Veterinarian examining cute hamster in clinic

“Exotics” vets are trained to work with small rodents like hamsters.

©Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.com

How to Treat a Dehydrated Hamster at Home

In the event you can’t locate a vet that’s able to assist with your hamster’s dehydration problem, there are several treatments you can try at home. These home remedies include:

  • Trying giving small quantities of sliced fruit and vegetables.
  • Enhance their water with additives like unflavored Pedialyte.
  • Switch the location of your hamster’s water to a shallow dish that’s easier to reach.
  • Using an eye dropper apply a drop of water to your hamster’s lip every half hour.

While the tips above may offer some relief for your pet, they won’t be as effective as taking them to a vet. It’s recommended that hamster owners find a veterinarian familiar with working on small rodents in case of emergencies like dehydration.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © RaquelVizcaino/Shutterstock.com


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