While you might have seen cats and dogs getting bathed, another commonly domesticated animal you’ve probably never seen getting its fur shampooed is the hamster.
Hamsters are self-grooming animals – they clean themselves by licking themselves. They’re also known to be some of the cleanest animals in the kingdom. However, this isn’t the only reason why they’re never (unless specified by a vet otherwise) bathed.
Why do hamsters bathe in the sand? And How often should you give your hamster a sand bath? A hamsters’ coat contains oils that moisturize their skin and regulates their body temperature. Should these oils be washed away, a hamster might require a visit to the vet – or it might be potentially lethal to the animal.
The question thus becomes: how do you bathe a hamster or how would they bathe themselves? While they might hold the capacity to self-groom, their fur does tend to get dirty with time and requires cleaning. The answer is sand bathing.
What is Sand Bathing?
Sand bathing is the process whereby an animal brushes or rolls itself against the sand to remove particles of dust and sand from its coat. The abrasive nature of the sand helps in rubbing away dirt from their fur much the same as water would wash it away.
Sand bathing is recommended for hamsters over water bathing for the aforementioned reason. Plus, hamsters tend to enjoy a good old sand bath over having by rolling, burrowing, and playing in their sand bowl.
What Kind of Sand do Hamsters Use?
Different manufacturers sell sand specifically made for hamster bathing. Popular brands include; ReptiSand, Chinchilla Sand, Children’s Play Sand, and Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Sand.
Price ranges vary based on product specifications, however, hamster sand is rarely ever an expensive option for bathing your pet. Especially is the alternate might potentially harm them.
These sands are sold as sand bathing products for hamsters, although owners wondering – Can I use sand as hamster bedding? would have to look at product specifications to find out more.
Can I use sand as hamster bedding?
1. Children’s Play Sand:
Children’s Play Sand is popular among hamster owners for its price and packaging, although some pet owners might argue that it requires processing before it can be placed inside of the animals’ cage.
The product claims to be safe for hamsters. However, bacteria tend to build up in packages over time which is why most experts and vets would recommend heating or baking the sand in the oven for a short while beforehand.
Next, Children’s Play Sand isn’t the finest out there. Admittedly sand shouldn’t be fine enough to lead to respiratory problems for the hamster, but it should be fine enough for thorough cleaning. This brand of sand requires a minute or so of sifting before or after being heated.
2. Chinchilla Sand:
Chinchilla Sand is arguably the most popular sand in this list, albeit the most expensive one as well. The sand is incredibly fine (although maintains a differentiation from dust) and is made up of pumice powder. Pumice powder is a volcanic residue known to have protective features along with being a thorough bathing product.
You can buy Chinchilla Sand from your local pet store or aquarium. The sand is popularly sold to hamster owners and Childe fish owners alike.
3. Reptile Sand:
Reptile Sand (Zoo Med ReptiSand) is made up of fine quartz and feels soft beneath a hamsters’ paws and encourages burrowing. Dwarf hamsters tend to prefer finer and softer sands while Syrian hamsters aren’t as specific. Reptile Sand and Chinchilla Sand are good options for the former.
However, reptile sand sold under the name Zoo Med ReptiSand is the only one safe to use for hamsters. Most reptile sands are dyed and contain chemicals and calcium – both of which are harmful to hamsters.
4. Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Sand:
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm is a pet product manufacturer that sells hamster sand made up of Sepiolite – a naturally occurring clay mineral. The brand claims its product is clean from any bacteria and has been pre-sifted for grain size and density.
However, Sepolite minerals might have variations between one bag and the next when mined. Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Sand is therefore not widely recommended. Although the company has claimed to make changes addressing customer complaints.
How often should you give your hamster a sand bath?
Giving your hamster a sand bathe isn’t the same as pouring water into a bowl or having a faucet running. Hamsters will burrow or roll through an inch or two of the sand on their own and clean themselves naturally by rubbing against the abrasive mineral.
So if you’re wondering “How often should you give your hamster a sand bath?” Your answer is this: give your hamster a sand bath by pouring an inch or two of sand into a sturdy bowl or container and placing it inside of your hamsters’ cage. The bowl or container should be large enough for your hamster to roll over in.
It should also be sturdy enough to not fall over as the hamsters’ rolling over in it. Additionally, the bowl should not be made out of materials such as plastic or rubber that the hamster can easily chew through.
How Often Should a Hamster Bathe?
Sand bathing bowls should be replaced frequently to avoid accumulating bacteria or bacterial products. The hamster can bathe itself multiple times a day at most or at least once a day.
What Kind of Sand is Safe for Hamsters?
There’s a very clear differentiation between sand and dust – the latter is finer. Dust baths are not recommended for hamsters because they can cause respiratory problems.
However, sand products often contain finer particles as well that may mimic dust. Before placing sand inside of your hamsters’ cage, make sure you sift it.
Some brands might contain added calcium, dyes, and other chemicals that can be inhaled by hamsters as they dig through their sand bowl. Additionally, some sandbags might have accumulated bacteria or bacterial products over time and would require time in the oven for heat sterilization.
Another question hamster owners often ask is, ‘can I use beach sand for my hamster?’ The answer is no. Beach sand should not be used for sand bathing a hamster because it’s loaded with bacterial products.
Hamsters’ are self-grooming animals and their fur contains oils necessary to regulate their body temperatures. Should the oils be washed away with water, the hamster might fall critically ill. Water baths are therefore contraindicated and sand baths are recommended.
Different pet product manufacturers have come up with various hamster sands of which Chinchilla, Children’s Play Sand, ReptiSand, and Tiny Friends Farm Sand are the most popular ones.