If you have recently purchased a new pet Hamster, or maybe even you got one some time ago, then you are likely to have a number of questions about their hydration needs and water requirements. One of which is how long can a hamster actually go without water? Having owned several Hamsters over the years, I wanted to know the answer myself so decided to put in some research to find the answer. Here is what I have found.
So, how long can a Hamster go without water? Hamsters can typically survive a couple of days without water – at most. Even then, this is problematic and is not advised. Ultimately, health status, age, environmental conditions, and temperature will dictate how long a hamster can survive but daily drinking is preferable.
In reality, unhealthy hamsters, those who are very young or very old are more vulnerable to a lack of water.
But why chance it?
Especially when dehydration can not only be fatal but bring about a lot of issues, both short and long term, even if your hamster could survive.
So, let us now explore this topic further to get a better understanding of your hamster’s requirements and how you can ensure that your Hamster is not prone to any illness or damage from a lack of water.
Hamsters Water Requirements
On average, hamsters need to drink about two teaspoons (or 10ml) per 100 grams of their body weight per day. The average adult hamster weighs around 200 grams; so they should be drinking 20 ml or 4 teaspoons of water per day.
Now, we have to consider that our hamsters are entirely reliant upon us to meet their water needs.
And it’s a basic requirement for their life and their health.
So it’s certainly not something we want to test.
Besides, there is no way to gauge how many days your own pet hamster can go without water.
How long they will survive is based on a variety of factors anyway, from their general health, age, and the environment all the way through to the temperature.
For instance, the hotter it is, the faster a Hamster will become dehydrated and the less time they will ultimately be able to survive.
It is therefore advised that you monitor your hamster’s water consumption routinely.
Provide multiple water bottles, sufficient access to water, and check them for leaks and issues regularly.
Ultimately, although a Hamster may be able to survive a few days without being given food and water, it can be problematic and is not advised.
Can Hamsters Store Water In Their Cheeks?
Hamsters cannot store water in their cheeks, nor would they attempt to even if they could. Their cheek pouches are used principally for hoarding food.
Food isn’t actually a really big problem because Hamsters naturally store things.
They tend to hoard extra seeds in their beds and actually have a physical adaptation for their little gathering ways.
Whenever they see food they tend to store it in special pouches in their cheeks.
They either store it in their cheeks for a short time for them to eat later or carry it back to their beds and bury it in their bedding.
This is something that is pretty normal for these types of animals.
This also means that if their food bowl goes empty for a few days, they are likely not skipping any meals.
Still, you should make sure that your Hamster’s bowl is full every day.
Especially if you want them to behave and stay healthy.
Water is another deal on the other hand.
Hamsters are not camels.
They can’t just store water into their cheeks for later.
All the water that they get they need to take directly from their bottles.
Please note that there is a big emphasis on bottles.
If you give Hamsters their water in bowls, it opens a lot of risks for them.
They could possibly drown if they accidentally slide into their bowl and have problems getting out.
They also can get sick just by getting wet. They are very susceptible to disease and getting too cold.
This also means that if you don’t provide water to them, there is no backup.
They don’t have little puddles hiding somewhere in their cage and they have no natural storage system in their bodies.
So the best thing that you can do is to get multiple bottles and place them at various points around the cage.
You need to ensure that there is always a supply of water and that any issues with the bottles (leakage, blockage etc).
This No Drip Hamster Water Bottle is a personal favorite of mine and that you can get for a cheap price over at Amazon.
It is easy to install, chew-proof and will not leak even after extended periods of use.
Can I Leave My Hamster Alone For A Weekend (Will They Have Enough Water?)
This brings up and important question – what can they do if you are not around? The answer is rather simple – nothing!
A hamster doesn’t know how to walk into the kitchen and turn on the tap.
A Hamster can’t get up and walk to the grocery store for food. They are entirely reliant on you.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to be around every second of the day.
When you are home, you really should check on your Hamster every few hours to make sure they have food and water.
If you need to go away for some time, there are a few options for you.
The best thing to do whenever you leave any pet alone is to have someone look after them.
A trusted friend or even hired professional just has to come in and check on your Hamster once a day.
If you are uncomfortable having someone come into your house or you happen to live especially out of the way, you can always have someone take your hamster to their house.
Hamsters are relatively easy to move around because they are small (and they enclosures are rather portable.
If this is not an option for you, you can leave your pet alone for a short time. It is important to note that you cannot do this with every pet.
This is also something you should do regularly. It can be scary for many pets to be away from their owners.
Some especially social animals such as cats and dogs should never be left alone in the home for a weekend.
When it comes to creatures like Hamsters, there is a little leeway, but you should really stick to some guidelines.
For one thing, you should never be gone for more than a weekend. Leaving them alone for one to three days and normally a safe enough thing to do.
Hamsters don’t require an excessive amount of entertainment from your end, so you probably won’t be missed so much.
Your duties as a pet owner may be though. You need to make sure that you have left an adequate amount of food and water for them.
Unlike with a dog, you don’t need to worry that they will eat all of their helpings in one sitting.
A hamster generally won’t overeat -just store their food. Water is also something that they will drink as they need.
Make sure to really fasten it to the cage as if it slips at the wrong angle, they may be unable to get water from it.
It is also a good idea to do a big clean of their cage right before you leave. Since you won’t be there to spot-clean, this will keep the cage as sanitary as possible.
Of course, you will be taking some risks if you do this. For one thing, you won’t be able to see if your Hamster has been injured or sick.
A hamster can become unwell rather quickly, and a weekend is more than enough time for the situation to become grave.
This is something that you shouldn’t have to expect with a younger or healthy hamster.
Be aware if they have medical problems, this is something you really need to consider before booking your trip.
The other thing you risk missing is a Hamster escape. A Hamster escape can happen at any time – even when you are right home.
Unfortunately, if you are away for the weekend, that means you won’t notice for some time.
What To Do If Your Hamster Escapes?
A Hamster escaping is not uncommon at all.
It is a real problem as the tiny creatures can escape out of very small openings (and young owners are more likely to close the cage incorrectly).
Once a pet hamster has escaped, you will need to look for them as soon as you can.
This allows for less time for them to get farther, or to start nibbling on something dangerous like a cable.
As Hamsters rely on you for food and water, one of the best things you can do is set their open cage out on the floor and leave out some food on the ground.
Placing some water bottle down low may also be a good idea as well as keeping doors/windows closed.
You’ll be surprised where Hamsters can end up. My pet Hamster Twinkle was once found in the kitchen, in a pan!
Can Hamsters Survive In The Wild (What About Food and Water?)
The thing is, because Hamsters are domesticated, they really don’t know how to forage out in the wilderness.
While there are still Hamsters in the wild, they are a little different than the ones you have running on the wheel in your living room.
Our Hamsters are no longer prepared to navigate the outside world. While some people think they are doing the humane thing by letting them free, they are often unintentionally sending them to an early death.
If your Hamster survives long enough to go outside, it is likely they won’t last very long because they will not be able to access enough food nor water.
This is why it’s recommended that you take preparatory measures. Make sure to purchase an appropriately sized, and secure cage whereby your Hamster cannot easily escape from.
If you are in the market for a new cage, then this is the one on Amazon I would recommend. You even get a free water bottle!
So, back to the original question. How long can your hamster survive without water?
In all honesty, it’s not something you should even need to know.
The best thing you can do if you own a Hamster is to ensure it has regular easy access to multiple good quality water bottles that will not clog, leak or break.
If you are thinking about leaving the house for some time, ensure they are fully stocked up with fresh food and water and do not leave them alone for too long.
But if your hamster has stopped drinking altogether, well then that requires a slightly different approach!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.