Hamsters are naturally found in dry habitats, so it seems like they would have little reason to swim anywhere, but can hamsters swim if they have to? And do they enjoy it when they do?
Just because wild hamsters wouldn’t naturally encounter large bodies of water doesn’t mean these little mammals are unable to swim!
It can be interesting to know all the abilities that our pets have. Knowing if our hamsters can swim, and whether they like water in general can also be really useful, especially when wondering how to bathe them!
Looking for more general info on how to best care for your pet hamster, or any other fun facts about hamsters you might not have known before? Find all you need to know on our main hamsters category page.
Can hamsters swim?
Wild hamsters tend to live in dry, hot climates. This leads to the question, do hamsters swim naturally? Can hamsters go in water?
Just because an animal doesn’t naturally live in a wet, moist habitat, doesn’t mean they can’t physically swim!
Hamsters in the wild won’t often come across large bodies of water to swim in.
But laboratory tests have shown that hamsters are physically able to swim when exposed to water or when they are made to enter water.
Hamsters have been found to swim with less complex techniques than other, larger mammals, but they can swim nonetheless!
And at a young age, swimming as a form of exercise has been suggested to help improve the health of hamsters!
Can dwarf hamsters swim?
Dwarf hamsters in the wild live in similar, very dry conditions, just like syrian hamsters.
However, just like syrian hamsters, dwarf hamsters are also capable of swimming!
This might be surprising because of their smaller size, but they’re just as able!
Because dwarf hamsters are smaller, you might want to reduce the depth of the water you let your hamster swim in!
So now we know hamsters of all sizes can swim, do hamsters like to swim?
Do hamsters like water?
Just because hamsters physically can swim doesn’t mean that they necessarily enjoy doing so.
The hot, dry natural habitats of hamsters mean that they wouldn’t normally encounter water to swim in.
This means wild hamsters would naturally steer clear of water unless it was to drink.
So does that mean hamsters don’t enjoy swimming?
Obviously knowing if hamsters like swimming is just as important as knowing can hamsters swim, as we don’t want to force our pets to do activities they don’t actually enjoy!
And keeping our pets’ stress to a minimum is important!
It can be really hard to tell whether our hamsters are enjoying swimming or not, but if it seems like your hamster is looking for an escape route from the water, or starting to panic, it is best to remove it just to be on the safe side!
Can hamsters swim in a bathtub?
The most natural place you might want to allow your hamster to swim is in your bathtub.
Your bathtub allows you to control the water levels.
But remember how small your hamster is! You don’t want it to be out of its depth, which could lead to panic, especially as hamsters don’t naturally choose to swim, and the tall slippery sides of the bath don’t provide much grip!
This gives you a great step-by-step guide to knowing when and how you should be washing your hamster with water, to keep it stress free and happy!
Surprisingly, the most common way to wash hamsters actually involves using dust, so doesn’t involve any potential swimming!
If you’re looking for some tips on how to give your hamster a sand bath, or want to see how hamsters react to sand baths, check out our article on hamster sand baths!
Can hamsters swim in a pool?
You might be wondering, if hamsters can swim in water, do hamster swimming pools exist?
Pools specifically designed for hamsters are not common, as many people who choose to let their hamsters swim tend to use bathtubs, bowls, or actual swimming pools!
However, this can be risky, as pools often have very steep sides, and are very deep and wide.
This can mean if your hamster starts to struggle as it swims, it could become very stressed, and you might not reach it before this stress badly affects your hamsters happiness or health.
The lack of escape routes for hamsters in pools designed for humans can also lead to extra stress!
If you’re really eager to see if your hamster likes swimming, it would be best to try things out with a large, shallow bowl at first.
Or, at least keep the water level in the pool very low. Make sure you pay attention to remove your hamster if it shows any signs of stress.
Something with an easy escape route would be best. This gives your hamster the opportunity to remove itself from the water if it is not enjoying swimming as much as you hoped it would!
Hamsters and water – A Summary
So can hamsters swim in water?
Yes they can! But they don’t always enjoy doing so!
If you’re excited to see whether your hamster takes to swimming, you could try it out. But make sure, especially the first time, that there is an easy escape route and no risk of your hamster panicking and taking in any water.
Hamsters don’t naturally encounter large bodies of water, so swimming won’t necessarily come naturally to them.
This is why we tend not to bathe our hamsters in water!
Have you ever seen a hamster swimming before, or seen how your hamster has reacted to swimming?
Perhaps your hamster seems to love swimming and paddling in little pools of water!
Let us know in the comments your experiences with hamsters and water!
Resources and Further Reading
- Charles G. Wilber (1963). The swimming capacity of the golden hamster. Journal of Mammalogy, 44(2).
- Dagg, I. & Windsor, D. E. (1972). Swimming in northern terrestrial mammals. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 50(1).
- Tatsuguchi, M. et. al. (2004). Swimming exercise in infancy has beneficial effect on the hearts in cardiomyopathic Syrian hamsters. Journal of Muscle Research & Cell Motility, 25(1).