My hamster stinks , Why and what to do ?
It could be normal if your hamster stinks but these rodents only give off a little odor when they are sick , marking their territory or during the rutting period for females. Otherwise, it is often the hamster’s cage that stinks because of poor cage cleaning or insufficient maintenance and this then affects your pet, who by the way , likes cleanliness.
When can a hamster stink?
Hamsters themselves only stink in rare situations because they are usually clean animals and never neglect their hygiene.
So here is what could justify a possible bad smell coming from your hamster:
1 – Female Hamsters in heat may become stinky :
Your hamster is a female and she is in rut, she releases sexual pheromones into the air, every 4 days or so, to attract the likely male hamsters that would be around.
The female hamster will have her period every fifth day until she mates and gets pregnant.
If your hamster is a female, this may be the reason for her strong odor.
2- A male hamster that marks his territory could smell really bad:
Male hamsters do not give off bad odors except for about twice a year, they have two larger scent glands than females to mark their territory.
Male hamsters rub these glands on everything in their enclosure, but we have noticed that twice a year, they make a kind of advanced marking of territory, they secrete more hormones and the marking of territory is accentuated during these two periods.
If your hamster stinks, it may be because it is his period of intense marking of territory.
3 – The sick hamster may stink too :
If your hamster stinks it’s because he may be sick, his fur is probably soaked with his stinking urine if he has a bladder problem (infection that makes the urine smell bad) or his watery stools if he has diarrhea or even more serious wet tail.
If your hamster has a wet bottom, or you notice almost liquid stools in his pen or bits of fecal matter attached to his fur in his anal area, know that it is normal that he stinks, he is sick and he must see a veterinarian quickly.
4-your hamster’s diet may be the reason if he doesn’t small good :
Hamsters can fart, yes, release farts in the air and believe me, it will not smell like roses LOL.
To prevent your hamster from smelling bad because of farts, provide him with a well balanced diet , avoid dairy products, like cheese and yogurt.
Certain fruits that have a high lactose content like apples, and also certain cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, brussel sprouts, Cauliflower and Cabbage.
Remember that the essential food for hamsters is fresh seeds and herbs, so avoid carbohydrates and acidic foods.
5- Testosterone could be the cause of bad male hamsters smell:
If you have two hamsters in the same pen, everything is fine until they become adult and sexually mature.
Then the testosterone war will start between your two hamsters and they will probably secrete more odors and start a territory marking war and each hamster will try to put its odor on the elements of the cage already marked by the other hamster and they will both end up stinking
You should only put one hamster per enclosure.
6- Your hamster could neglects its hygiene ! :
It can happen that your hamster does not do his grooming sessions or does not take his sand baths anymore.
This can make him dirty and he will surely be a little bit smelly because his fur will become saturated with the body oils that the hamster secretes and it will remain stained with urine…
There are two reasons why your hamster may neglect its cleanliness, one is stress or illness and the other, the most common one is injury.
If your hamster is not sick, but its fur is dirty, badly maintained and it stinks, know that it is probably injured because of a fall and it can probably not clean itself and especially take its sand baths, which are very important for its daily toilet.
So check if your hamster has a fracture or partial paralysis.
Older hamsters are also known to urinate and sleep all over the cage, and if they have Alzheimer’s, it is very likely that they will sleep on their urine and they will probably smell bad.
7- Long-haired hamsters need help to stay clean:
If you have a long-haired Syrian hamster, you should know that he needs help during his daily cleaning sessions. He has long hair, he can lick his fur but sometimes he gets bored before he is completely clean.
During his sandbath, he just tries to throw sand on his back but he can’t do it very well, so you have to help him by putting sand on his back and brushing him.
Female hamsters only smell bad when they are in heat and male hamsters only when they are sick.
So it is rare that it is your hamster that stinks, look rather at the side of the maintenance of the cage, if your hamster walks on its own urine, it will be soaked and will smell the urine!
What to do when my hamster smells bad ?
If you are sure that it is the hamster which smells bad and it is not the cage or the enclosure :
- Check if he has a wet tail or diarrhea
- Check if he has a fracture or anything else that prevents him from taking his sand baths.
If your hamster only has urine on its coat, do a spot cleaning and wet a cloth with warm water, wring out the cloth so that only the moisture remains and gently clean your hamster’s coat.
What never to do when your hamster stinks ?
You should never blame your hamster and yell at it!
Never wet your hamster or give it a shower , I mean with water !!.
You should never put deodorant in the room and especially in the enclosure or worse still put perfume to your hamster, you should never do this, they have a sensitive sense of smell and you will stress and cause may be the wet tail that can kill him in less than 3 days!
You should never suddenly air the room where your hamster is to get out the smell, this will make your hamster sick, probably a cold.
If you have to air the room, do it in the middle of the day and especially after you cover the hamster’s cage to avoid exposing it to drafts.
Never use Cleaners and Odor Neutralizers for Cages, when cleaning the enclosure, use warm water, just a little soap and disinfect with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar.
So let’s see how poor maintenance of the cage or enclosure can affect the hamster.
It is not the hamster that stinks but its enclosure:
Generally, it is not the hamster itself that smells bad, it is its cage because of a bad or insufficient maintenance or even a bad bedding.
Why does my hamster’s enclosure stink?
Here are some reasons why your hamster’s cage stinks:
1-Poor cage maintenance:
You don’t clean the cage often enough, you need to spot clean every day to change the bedding in the places used as toilets by your hamster (the pee spots).
You must also every 20 or 30 days, make a complete cleaning of the enclosure of your hamster and change between 50% and 70% of the bedding of your hamster (The top and bottom layer and keep only the middle).
2- Your hamster urinates everywhere in the cage:
There are some hamsters that do not choose one or two places as toilets, but they urinate everywhere, even in their wheel and especially in the sandbath and the problem is that they take a sand bath afterwards!
In this case, you should try to potty-train your hamster, by buying one or two small plastic sandboxes, install one in his sandbox and the other in a corner of the cage that he has already used several times to urinate.
Put in these plastic hamster potty’s some sand (kids playsand) mixed with some of his bedding already soaked with his urine to encourage him to use these “urinals”.
Once your hamster is used to using these “litter boxes”, it will be cleaner, the cage will be cleaner and the bad smells will disappear.
You can stay awake, and each time he uses the litter box, you reward him with a tiny piece of candy. Hamsters are creatures of habit and your hamster will quickly learn to urinate only in the litter box.
Old hamsters are also known to pee everywhere in the cage, they do not take the time to go to their toilet corners, it is therefore necessary to adapt the cleaning of the enclosure to this bad habit by removing at least every week the top layer of its bedding and renew it by a clean bedding.
Also remember to change the sand in the sandbox.
3- Your hamster is hiding fresh food:
The cage can smell bad when the hamster hides the rest of its fresh food, it will quickly go moldy especially if you don’t discover it during the spot cleaning and if it is also hot in the room.
This food, a piece of vegetable or fruit or even worse, a piece of meat or cheese, it will therefore mold and bacteria will grow and release an odor that will stink in the whole room.
4- The cage smells bad because of bad bedding:
If you use wood shavings or any other bedding that is not paper-based, be aware that your hamster’s enclosure will smell of urine because these cheap beddings generally do not absorb your hamster’s urine and do not retain bad odors.
Do not make the mistake of using a scented bedding, because it will stress your hamster which has a very sensitive nose.
To prevent the cage from smelling like urine, you need a good thick layer of bedding.
Hamsters need at least 12 inches of bedding, they love to tunnel, but this layer will prevent your hamster’s urine from reaching the floor of the cage and drying out and stinking permanently.
The cage can stink if it is made of a wood that absorbs fluids:
If it is not a bin cage, or an aquarium, and if the cage of your hamster is made of a wood other than the Melamine, this wood is perhaps absorbing the urine of your hamster and even if you clean the cage well, the smell of urine remains persistent.
I recommend a large cage or a large enclosure of at least 1000 square inches, the Ikea Detolf are an excellent solution to house your hamster, you just have to remove the shelves and lay it on a piece of furniture.
To eliminate odors from your hamster’s cage, do daily spot cleanings and a complete cleaning every month, clean and disinfect all the elements and the walls of the cage with a mixture of water and vinegar.
Let it dry well or use a hair dryer in winter but do not put your hamster back in if the enclosure is heated during drying, let it come back to room temperature before putting your hamster back in.
This way, you will always keep your hamster and its cage clean and it will always smell like fresh, clean bedding.
First of all, know that if your hamster stinks, it’s probably not his fault! And if you can’t stand the smell of pets, don’t accept it!
After that, it could be that your hamster smells a bit strong for one of the reasons mentioned in this article, but know that it is a temporary situation, you just have to detect the cause of the bad smell.
First check the condition of the cage and then is it the hamster itself that stinks and fix this problem.