In hot weather, the hamster should be kept in a large, well-ventilated enclosure, set in a cool spot, and lined with a thick layer of hardwood shavings. Provide your hamster with plenty of fresh water and veggies, reduce the amount of protein and fat in its diet, and avoid unnecessary contact and handling.
- Why keep your hamster cool?
- Signs of heat stress in hamsters
- How to properly care for a hamster in hot weather?
- How to prepare your hamster’s enclosure for the warm season?
- How to feed a hamster in hot weather?
- Cleaning and Grooming:
- Avoid too much contact with your hamster when it’s hot
- Final Thoughts
Why keep your hamster cool?
Hamsters may tolerate cold better than hot temperatures. As the temperature in your hamster’s enclosure goes up, the risk that your hamster will get sick increases too, so here’s what you should expect
64-75°F (18-24°C): ideal for hamsters.
77-86°F (25-30°C): your hamster will start to feel hot, and stress can make things worse.
Over 88°F/ 31°C: The hamster will begin to have difficulty regulating its body temperature, start overheating and fading and risk a heat stroke at any moment.
If this happens, you should immediately try to reduce its body temperature by gradually exposing it to lower temperatures to stabilize it, then take it to the vet for a check-up.
Signs of heat stress in hamsters
You must also learn to detect heat stress signs so that you can intervene either by helping your hamster to lower its temperature or by taking him to the vet in the most serious cases. Here are the signs that the temperature in your hamster’s enclosure is too high:
- Your hamster will become lethargic or appear lifeless and limp.
- Heavy breathing
- Ignoring its food.
- Splayed limbs (your hamster lies on its back and spreads its paws)
- Wet or greasy coat
- your hamster Trembles when you touch him.
- Excessive water consumption.
- Your hamster will be sleeping in the open area, not inside its nest.
- White teeth and diarrhea (in some cases).
Heatstroke is a very serious condition for hamsters, and the damage to the brain can sometimes be irreparable, even if the hamster seems to be recovering from the heatstroke.
How do hamsters lower their body temperature?
The ideal temperature for hamsters is between 20°C/68°F and 24°C/75°F, with humidity between 40 and 60%.
There are only two ways for hamsters to stabilize their body temperature at 38°C/100.6°F since during the hot season they have no access to fresh water or vegetables:
1- Take shelter in an area where the temperature remains cool and stable: the average temperature inside its burrows in the wild is 16.7°C (62.1°F).
2- Since hamsters don’t sweat (they don’t have sweat glands), they have to dissipate their heat without evaporation, so they reduce the blood flow to their internal organs (liver, kidneys, and intestines) and increase it to the external parts of their body, notably their paws, tail, and ears, to help cool their blood and lower their body temperature.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to ensure that the temperature remains stable and within the average tolerable range for hamsters all around the enclosure.
How to properly care for a hamster in hot weather?
Because of climate change, no one is safe from extreme temperatures, especially in summer.
This article is especially for those who have one or more hamsters and no air conditioner, but it’s for everyone too, since it’s always possible for the aircon to go out during a heatwave, and you end up with a hamster that risks overheating, or getting heat strokes, and could quickly become a health-threatening situation and cause the early death of your hamster.
How to prepare your hamster’s enclosure for the warm season?
1- Choose a suitable place for your hamster’s enclosure
During the hot season, your hamster’s cage must be kept inside the house and not outdoors. Here’s what to consider when choosing the best place in the house for your pet’s hamster enclosure when it’s hot:
Avoid noisy, light-filled rooms and those exposed to even partial sunlight during the day, and avoid the south side of the house.
Choose the coolest area of the house, where the temperature is stable and close to those ideal for hamsters: 65-75°F or 18-24°C.
Avoid draughty or cold areas.
Never put your hamster’s enclosure near an air conditioner, and especially not near a heat source such as the fridge, the water heater, or the kitchen area.
Avoid areas that are too damp, as the humidity will make the heat more unbearable for your hamster, which will probably end up with a greasy coat.
It’s best to install your hamster’s enclosure on the lower floor of your house during hot weather, in the basement if necessary, because temperatures on the lower levels are often cooler.
Never take your hamster’s cage outside – it’s too stressful for him, not to mention exposing him to draughts and sudden changes in temperature.
2- What’s the best enclosure for hamsters when it’s hot?
Many people will tell you that bar cages are the best for hamsters in hot weather, but personally, I always recommend a large enclosure like the ones made with an Ikea Detolf because, in hot weather, your hamster needs space more than anything else.
The temperature in enclosures made of a combination of wood and glass is the best when it’s hot because it will always remain stable and you’ll just need to let the airflow around and over the hamster’s enclosure cool it, without exposing your fragile hamster to direct draughts and sudden changes in temperature if you use a fan or an air conditioner.
A portable air conditioner, installed just a few feet from your hamster’s enclosure, will be enough to keep your hamster’s Ikea Detolf enclosure cool, just make sure you periodically check the temperature inside the enclosure at bedding level to find the right distance at which to place the air conditioner.
Finally, if your hamster lives in a small cage, it may be time to make or buy him a new enclosure, at least 750 square inches wide, otherwise, you can put him in a playpen, just off the floor, where the tiles are often cooler, to prevent him from overheating, especially around midday.
3- What Substrate and bedding for your hamster in hot weather?
Before looking after your hamster’s bedding, start by thoroughly cleaning the enclosure to get rid of any odors and disinfect it of any mold or parasites that can quickly grow and spread to contaminate the cage.
To allow air to flow freely through the enclosure, remove any duplicate items or accessories that your hamster rarely uses, so as not to overcrowd the enclosure.
The best substrate for a hamster in hot weather is hardwood-based sheddings like shavings made with Aspen and Spruce, as this kind of substrate will allow air to infiltrate and prevent them from retaining heat.
Unlike Pine and Cedar wood shavings, which smell too strong and are too sharp, Kaytee Aspen wood shavings would be a perfect choice for your hamster during the warm season, as this type of substrate will also absorb moisture and bad odors and last longer than the other types.
You can then add some paper-based bedding, some soft hay, and Coco fiber, so that your hamster will also find something to nest in. Coco fiber is known for its ability to reduce temperature.
You should never use paper-based bedding alone in hot weather. Always start with a good layer of hardwood shedding and then add some soft bedding on top.
The thicker the bedding layer, the cooler the temperature in the burrows. So don’t hesitate to add more wood shavings than usual.
4- Best Hamster Supplies in hot weather
The best accessories for your hamster enclosure in hot weather are those made from 100% natural materials.
Platforms, nest boxes, tunnels, climbing frames, and the exercise wheel should preferably be made of natural wood, Aspen, or spruce.
Feeding bowls, sandboxes, and hides should preferably be made of glass, ceramic, or clay so that during the hot hours of the day, they can redistribute the coolness they absorb during the night.
You can also add accessories such as a cooling stone (Granite stone), hide made with clay, Ceramics tiles, ceramic plates, mugs, ceramic houses and small clay pots, which you can cool just a little before putting them at your hamster’s disposal, especially during the hot hours of the day, so that your hamster can find cool places to take its naps during the hot hours of the day.
Never freeze or over cool any of the above items, such as putting them in the freezer, as their temperature must not fall below 16-18°C when you introduce them into the enclosure, to avoid your hamster experiencing a rapid change in body temperature and risking thermal shock or catching the flu.
If you’ve cooled one of your hamster accessories too much, you can wrap it in a towel before placing it in your hamster’s enclosure.
Finally, hamsters love and need their sandbox, so you can also put their bathing sand and sandbath in the fridge before filling their sandbox.
5- Materials to avoid in hot weather:
Avoid accessories made of plastic, fake wood, metal, or any other material that retains heat or can release odors in hot weather.
How to feed a hamster in hot weather?
In hot weather, your hamster should preferably be fed a low-protein, low-fat and low-sugar diet, so reduce the amount of food containing too much protein and fat, such as cheese, sunflower seeds, and live mealworms.
During hot weather, vegetables are a great way to keep your hamster hydrated, so give him a daily slice of cucumber, celery, zucchini, apples, and watermelon … and remove any fruit that is too sweet and doesn’t contain too much water.
You can also put them in the fridge for a few minutes before giving them to your hamster.
When it’s hot, certain foods such as fruit and vegetables, pellets, cheese, meat, and live mealworms will rot faster than when temperatures are normal in your hamster’s enclosure. So remember to always remove leftovers from this type of food.
You’ll also need to inspect your hamster’s food stashes more often to make sure it hasn’t gone moldy.
How to Avoid Dehydration:
During heatwaves, your hamster must have easy access to fresh water. To avoid diarrhea, it’s best to have at least 3 water bottles or 2 ceramic water bowls.
If your hamster is used to using water bottles, you can alternate bottles, leaving them in the fridge for a while before hanging them in the enclosure.
If your hamster is used to drinking from a bowl, you can cool the bowl a little before filling it and giving it to him, or place it on a ceramic tile that you’ve first put in the fridge to cool.
Finally, you can put a small ice cube in the bowl to keep your hamster’s water as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
Pointing the fan directly at your hamster’s enclosure would be a very bad idea since fans and air currents will not only dry out your hamster’s skin and dehydrate him, but more importantly, your hamster will probably catch the flu, making him even more fragile.
In hot weather, your hamster’s bowls and water bottles need to be cleaned more often to avoid bacteria buildup.
Cleaning and Grooming:
As soon as the hot season arrives you should start spot-cleaning and deep cleaning with bedding changes more often than usual to avoid bad odors and bacteria buildups in the cage.
So do daily spot-cleanings to remove wet bedding and droppings from your hamster.
Your hamster’s sandbox needs to be clean all the time so that he can continue to care for its fur, especially as it’s its fur that protects him from heat and parasites, so it needs to stay clean all the time.
You can also help your hamster take sand baths if he’s sick, old, or injured. Long-haired hamsters may also need help with sand baths, especially during heatwaves.
Finally, remember to change your hamster’s sand more often to prevent its fur from becoming greasy, as its skin will secrete more oils when temperatures are high.
Avoid too much contact with your hamster when it’s hot
During hot weather, you should also limit interaction with your hamster. Handling is always a little stressful for the hamster, and stress will raise its body temperature.
Hamsters pump their blood to their upper organs to cool it down, and when you hold it in your hands, which are at least 98°/37°C, this won’t help your hamster as you’re preventing it from cooling itself!
Finally, if your hamster is pregnant or nursing, you must keep a close eye on whether the temperature in the enclosure is stable, as female hamsters are very fragile during this stage of their life. The same goes for older hamsters, or sick hamsters, who also need extra attention during heatwaves.
In hot weather, hamsters need extra supervision to make sure they’re okay.
So always keep an eye on your hamster to make sure it’s still cool, and be ready to help him if things go wrong and your hamster starts overheating.(
If your hamster is suffering from a heat stroke, you can start by putting it in a small container and giving it a bath in lukewarm water for a few minutes until it wakes up and comes to its senses, after that, take it immediately to the nearest exotic vet.
Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the early mornings and late nights, when temperatures drop, to air out the room where you’ve set up the enclosure and close the curtains as soon as the sun beams down on your window.