Are you looking for a definite answer to the question, “How long can hamsters go without water?
Once I had to leave my pet hamster alone for a few days, so I spoke with my vet to ensure Fluffy wouldn’t get dehydrated while I was gone.
I know how anxious you feel in such circumstances, so I’ll share my experience with you and give you a couple of tips that help keep my pet well-hydrated.
Just keep reading.
- Hamsters are desert animals, but they can’t survive long without food or water.
- You can leave your hamster alone for a few days if you provide enough food and water.
- Hamsters are escape artists; they can escape the cage if you leave them alone for more than 3-4 days.
How Often Do Hamsters Need Water?
Hamsters are desert animals from Syria, North China, and other warm, dry areas. So, they can survive without water for about three to four days.
The key word is “survive.” Your hamster won’t be in perfect health after several days without access to fresh water and may need urgent veterinary attention.
Despite their desert roots, hamsters need fresh water every single day. The best way to keep them hydrated is using a water bottle and checking it daily for leaks and blockage.
And how much water per day does your hamster need? The answer is quite surprising.
How Much Water Do Hamsters Drink?
According to vets from PetMD, “Hamsters drink approximately 10 milliliters of water per 100 grams of body weight per day.” (1)
Since most hamsters weigh around 150 grams, they drink about three teaspoons of water. Syrian hamsters are a bit bigger – about 225 grams, so they consume approximately five teaspoons.
It doesn’t seem much, especially if you compare it to how much water humans drink. But if you want a healthy hamster, you must provide constant access to water in its cage.
Some health issues, pregnancy, and a dry food diet can also increase your pet’s water intake. Your hamster will also need more water in hot weather to lower its body temperature and prevent overheating.
Since hamsters are small creatures, the lack of water will quickly lead to dehydration. And it’s not always easy for novice hamster owners to spot the symptoms of dehydration—more about that in a bit.
How to Tell If My Hamster is Dehydrated?
The most common signs of dehydration are sunken eyes, dry membranes, lethargy, and loose skin. In severe cases, it also causes breathing problems.
Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy test for pet owners to determine how hydrated their animal is:
- Use your thumb and index finger to pinch the skin at the base of the neck and pull it to create a “tent.”
- Let go of the skin and watch what happens. It should bounce back quickly to its original shape.
- If the skin doesn’t bounce back, your pet hamster is dehydrated.
Besides water, food is likely also on your mind if you have to leave your hamster alone for a couple of days.
CHECK: How to Get My Hamster to Drink Water
How Long Can Hamster Go Without Eating?
Food isn’t as big an issue as water because hamsters hide food around their cage. It’s an instinct to hoard as much food as possible to ensure survival since their natural environment is food-scarce.
They won’t go hungry if you forget to fill your hamsters’ food bowl. Still, they can’t survive more than three-four days without food.
Your pet needs about one tablespoon of high quality hamster food on a daily basis. Commercial pellets are an excellent choice, but you should also add some vegetables and fruits.
Occasionally, I give my hamster treats – raisins, dog biscuits, and alfalfa hay. However, be careful when feeding perishable food, and remove the leftovers after a couple of hours.
Check this video for more tips on how to improve your hamster’s diet.
And now, let’s talk about if you can leave your hamster alone for a few days or if you’ll have to take it with you on your vacation.
Can I Leave My Hamster Alone?
I’ve good news – you can leave your hamster alone for a couple of days. Just ensure it has access to water and plenty of available food.
However, I always ask a friend to check on my pet when I have to be away for longer than three days. Otherwise, I’m too anxious to enjoy my vacation or do my job.
Moreover, vets from VCA explain,
“Despite their clumsy appearance, hamsters are great escape artists, since they are excellent chewers.” (2)
Your pet can chew through its cage and get lost inside your house. Finding it when you come home may prove to be mission impossible.
And how will loneliness affect your hamster’s mental health? Let’s find out!
Will My Hamster Be Mad If I Leave It Alone?
Hamsters are solitary animals. They won’t be too upset when you leave them alone because they’re not fans of human interactions.
However, hamsters are also used to a routine, and sudden changes in their daily lives are scary for small and defenseless animals.
Moreover, studies have shown that hamsters can recognize familiar individuals. So, while your hamster won’t get mad you’re gone, it will notice you’re not around. (3)
But you can lessen the stress from your absence with a few handy tips.
7 Tips for Leaving Your Hamster Alone
You can leave your hamster alone for 3-4 days or up to a week with the proper care plan. Here are my top tips to help you.
1. Provide Plenty of Water
Whenever I have to leave my hamster alone, I put a second bottle in the cage. Then I check both bottles to ensure they won’t malfunction while I’m gone.
Even if one of the bottles fails to dispense water, the other one should be enough until I get home and notice the problem.
2. Leave Suitable Food
Leave protein-rich food that won’t go bad in a couple of hours. You can also leave some wet food, such as leafy greens, to provide extra water.
It’s also a good idea to have something your hamster can chew during your absence, such as biscuits.
3. Consider Your Pet’s Temperament
Think about your hamster’s personality. Some like to gobble their food, so you may need to hide some food around the cage or leave extra.
4. Put the Cage in the Bathtub
If you think your hamster can chew its way out of the cage, you should place it in the bathtub. Even if your furry pet manages to escape, they won’t go far, and you’ll be able to retrieve them.
5. Clean the Cage
Before you leave your hamster alone for a couple of days, you should clean the cage well. It will become dirty while you’re gone, and you want to reduce the chance of bacteria overgrowth.
6. Think About a Caretaker
You can use plenty of pet sitting services if no one in your family wants to deal with your hamster.
It’s better to have a caretaker, especially if you have a dwarf hamster because it can become untamed without social interactions.
7. Check for Distress Signs
Once you return home, check your hamster to ensure it’s healthy and give it plenty of water and food to compensate for your absence.
Check out this helpful video!
Do hamsters need water every day?
Yes, hamsters drink water every day, and you should check their water bottle for leaks and blockage to ensure they don’t get dehydrated.
Can I leave my hamster alone for 10 days?
You can leave your hamster alone for 10 days if you have someone who will come to check on it during your absence and provide food and water. Otherwise, your pet may starve.
What happens if hamsters don’t drink water?
If your hamster doesn’t have access to water for 24 hours, it will start dehydrating. After 48 to 72 hours, your pet will become sick and need a vet to combat the dehydration.
Should I give my hamster water in a bowl?
It’s better to use water bottles instead of bowls. Your hamster can splash the water on the bedding, contributing to bacteria, mold, and fungus overgrowth.
How do I hydrate my hamster?
You can hydrate your hamster by mixing rehydration solution (Pedialyte) and water. Then feed it to your pet with a syringe.
How long can hamsters go without water? Your pet will survive for up to three-four days without water, but it can become seriously ill.
If you’re planning on leaving your hamster alone for longer periods of time, ensure it has plenty of food and water and someone to check on it and clean the cage.
Take your pet to the vet if you notice lethargy, irregular eating/drinking, loose stools, wheezing, and other abnormal behaviors.
What do you think about this topic? Have you ever left your hamster alone for weeks? Please share your experience with us in the comment section.
- 1. petMD. What Can Hamsters Eat? Carrots, Grapes, Tomatoes, and More | petMD [Internet]. Petmd.com. 2016. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/exotic/nutrition/evr_ex_hm_what-can-hamsters-eat
- 2. Owning a Pet Hamster [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/owning-a-pet-hamster
- 3. Lai W-S . Recognition of Familiar Individuals in Golden Hamsters: A New Method and Functional Neuroanatomy. Journal of Neuroscience. 2005;25:11239–47.
Grigorina grew up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped her into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). She has two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but she also feeds her neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
Read her latest articles HERE
Learn more about her