Everyone knows hamsters can drink from cage-attached water bottles, but can they drink from a bowl as well?
Can Hamsters Drink From Bowls? Hamsters can drink from a bowl. If you’re having issues getting your hamster to drink from a bottle, using a bowl is a good alternative.
There are a number of reasons you might want to hydrate your hamster via bowl instead of using the typical bottle setup.
- You don’t have a bottle, or your bottle is malfunctioning.
- Your hamster won’t drink from a bottle for whatever reason. The nozzle might be too big for their mouth, or maybe they just don’t like using it.
- Your hamster makes too much noise when drinking from the bottle. This can be a real issue if your hamster lives in your bedroom and constantly wakes you up at night.
No matter your reason, there are a few things you should know before you set up your hamster’s new water source.
How to Set Up the Bowl
If you’ve decided to use a bowl, you should take the following steps to properly set it up.
- Make sure the bowl is on the shallow side. While quite unlikely, it isn’t unheard of for hamsters to drown in bowls that are too deep.
- Make sure the bowl isn’t too shallow though. Your hamster needs enough water to ensure they can get a drink whenever they want.
- Try to find a bowl heavy enough to support your hamster climbing on the sides without tipping it over. Rock bowls, although typically made for hermit crabs, can be a great alternative to traditional bowls made for humans.
- Place the bowl on a raised platform, preferably with a ramp or steps leading up to it. This will decrease the amount of foreign material that gets into the water and will make it less likely your hamster gets sick from drinking the water.
- Change the water every day. The main downside of water bowls is how dirty the can get. This is especially important if you have multiple hamsters, as the increased foot traffic will result in more bedding, dirt, and even fecal matter and urine contaminating the water.
- Clean the bowl every day. Simply changing the water probably won’t be enough to get rid of all the bacteria-ridden objects that will inevitably find their way into your hamster’s water supply.
The Benefits of Using a Bowl
While a cage-mounted bottle is a preferred method of giving water to hamsters, there are some unique benefits to using a water bowl too.
First of all, bottles are less durable than one might like.
The water-dispensing nozzle can break, and ambitious hamsters can chew holes in plastic bottles. It is possible to avoid the chewing problem by using a glass or metal bottle, but those cost substantially more than the standard plastic options.
They’re also harder to clean than bowls. While bottles will need far less cleaning than a bowl will, they’re actually pretty difficult to sanitize when they do get dirty enough to warrant a cleaning.
This is because some of the gunk that builds up inside the bottle can require physical scrubbing, and the small opening makes it nearly impossible to get a rag or sponge inside.
There’s also the unfortunate reality that some hamsters just don’t like bottles. For whatever reason, they refuse to place their mouth on the nozzle and suck down some essential life-enabling liquid.
Why You Should Try to Use a Bottle Instead
Although bowls are viable water sources, you should strive to get your hamster to drink from a cage-mounted water bottle.
First of all, it’s more hygienic. Bowls make great containers for things other than water.
Dirty bedding, hair, urine, fecal matter, soggy food pellets, and wayward vegetables are all things that can contaminate your hamster’s water bowl.
If your hamster drinks enough water dirtied up by this stuff, it could very well find itself sick.
On top of being cleaner, a bottle is also a more effective way to give your hamster water. It can’t be tipped over like a bowl can, so you won’t have to play servant to your hammy and constantly refill their water supply every time they knock it over.
It can also hold more water, which means you’ll be able to go for much longer periods of time without worrying about whether your hamster is dehydrated or not.
A bottle is also the smarter choice if you have multiple hamsters in a single cage. The more hamsters you have in a cage, the higher the likelihood your water bowl gets knocked over or heavily contaminated.
This is especially true if your hamsters are prone to fighting, as arguments are most likely to break out over the sole water source in the cage.
Using Both a Bottle and a Bowl
Some hamster owners have found success in offering their hamster both a water bottle and a water bowl. This can be an excellent middle ground if you have a large-enough cage and the time to regularly change the water in both bottle and bowl.
Here are a few reasons you might want to double up on water sources:
- If you have multiple hamsters, having multiple water sources is a great way to reduce conflict and ensure everyone gets properly hydrated.
- Your hamster will have a backup if one water source goes out of service. Say you leave the house for the day, and the ball in the bottle nozzle gets stuck. Or maybe your hamster gets a bit rowdy and knocks the bowl over. If that’s their only water source, they’re going to have to wait until you return to start drinking again. The distress and negative health effects caused by this unnecessary dehydration make having two water sources the responsible thing to do.
- It’s not unheard of for water bottles to break. If it does, your hamster won’t be able to drink until you replace it… unless it also has a bowl in the cage to drink from. Sure, you could put some water in a bowl from the kitchen and use it as a holdover measure until you can get to the pet store, but most kitchen bowls aren’t weighted and are therefore easy to tip over. This makes them inadequate for usage as a hamster water bowl, so it’s best to be prepared for a bottle break by already having a weighted bowl on hand.
Which bowls are best for hamsters? Shallow study bowls with non-toxic materials are great solutions for hamster bowls.
Where can I get a bottle for my hamster? Most pet shops will sell bottles for your hamsters. Amazon and online stores are also other alternatives. Hamster bottles usually come in two sizes, small and large.
What kind of platform should I place my bowl on? You need to place the bowl somewhere it cannot be tipped over easily. A good way to protect the bowl is by cutting a hole in a small cardboard box and nest the bowl in the hole.