How Long Can Hamsters Go Without Water?

It would be an idyllic world if you never had to leave your home and thus, never had to worry about the well-being of your hamster. However, life must happen and there will be times when they are left alone. How long can a hamster go without water? 

Depending on a hamster’s size and weight, they can typically survive around 3-4 days with no food or water. However, if you have a young hamster (under 3 months) or an older hamster (over 2 years) they may need more water and food than that of a middle-aged hamster. 

 hamsters are constantly eating, and drink at nearly the same rate. However, there will be times when you cannot get to your hamster for an extended amount of time and this may leave you wondering if your hamster can survive. Continue reading to find out exactly how long a hamster can go without water, how much water they need, how to supply them with extra water sources, and how to prepare them for when you are gone. 

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Exactly How Long Can Hamsters Go Without Water? 

There are very few creatures on this planet that can survive lengthy amounts of time without consuming any sort of water. Water is what fuels the body, keeps everything in smooth working order, and is even more essential than food. Therefore, you may be a little worried when there comes a point in time that your hamster is either not drinking or you will be away from them and unable to supply them with fresh water. 

Although it is best for hamsters to receive fresh water every day, if you find that you are in a position where this is not possible, they are able to go about three to four days without any water. Once this time has passed, it is crucial that your hamster receives fresh water so they do not become dehydrated, which can lead to various health problems. Even more, extreme dehydration can cause them to die. 

If you have a juvenile hamster that is younger than three months old, they will need water more frequently due to their level of activity. This means that they can go about three days before they are in need of another drink. The same goes for an older hamster that is over two years old. They may eat less, but water and staying hydrated is essential in their day to day, and going four days without water can be a real stretch. 

It is also important to note the behaviors of your hamster. If they are generally the type that intakes less water, then you won’t have as much to worry about when leaving. However, if they tend to guzzle and need more than the average daily amount (read below to find this out), you may have to take extra measures to ensure they have plenty when you are gone. If you know your hamster well, trust that knowledge and weigh it with facts. 

How Much Water do Hamsters Need? 

Just like humans, hamsters do have a daily intake requirement when it comes to water. Now, depending on the level of activity that your hamster has, this amount may increase or decrease from day to day. However, it is important to understand that water is a very important factor in your hamster’s health and is one of the biggest contributors to a long and healthy life. 

To get technical, the amount of water that a hamster needs daily depends on its weight. Generally, the ratio is 0.33 fluid ounces per every 3.5 ounces of the hamster. Therefore if your hamster weighs 3.5 ounces, it will need 1.15 ounces of water every single day. You can always measure the amount of water intake that your hamster is drinking by looking at the ounces of the water bottle offered then observing their daily intake. 

This is not so essential as a hamster (unless sick or injured) will get the water they need without you having to worry about them. However, if you are leaving for an extended amount of time, you want to make sure that there is enough water to meet their daily intake needs based on the amount of time you will be gone. If there is not, you want to ensure that once the water has run out, you will not be gone longer than three or four days. 

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How to Supply Extra Water to Your Hamster 

If you are leaving your home for a weekend or will be gone for even longer than a few days, you will need to find a sure method to get ample water to your hamster so that you do not have to worry about dehydration. Remember, you have a 3-4 day period that gives you a little grace if the water runs out, but if you can avoid a lack of water within your hamsters cage, that is ideal. 

The first and most obvious solution is to provide a good-sized water bottle for your hamster. hamsters will not drink from a dish, so always be sure to have a water bottle attached to the side of the cage they can easily access. You also want to ensure that there is enough water within the bottle to meet their daily intake needs while you are away. Simply look to see the ounces, determine your hamster’s intake, and calculate if there will be enough. 

Outside of giving your hamster water through their water bottle, you can also give them water through a more hidden way – in different fresh fruits and vegetables. You don’t want to overrun their cages with food, but leave them a few water-dense fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, apples, grapes, carrots, and lettuce. These are all things that will count towards their water intake and can help in a pinch. 

How Long Can Hamsters Go Without Food? 

With water being so essential, you may have forgotten that while hamsters need to drink, they also need to eat. Even though water is the most essential aspect of a hamster’s diet when it comes to overall health and longevity, they do need plenty of food to help maintain their energy, supply nutrients, and keep their little bellies full. 

On average, a hamster can go around three to four days without food, which mimics the same time span as water. However, there are a few things that need to be considered here before assuming that your hamster can last this long without food, regardless of how you have prepared them 

First, you must consider the type of food that your hamster was consuming before that three or four day period without. Although delicious and a great treat, if they were only nibbling on fruits and a few vegetables before you left, they are going to become hungry much faster than if they were to receive grains through their commercial hamster food or if they were to have eaten things like boiled chicken or even bread. 

Second, hamsters, by nature, are hoarders. There will always be a spot within your hamster’s cage where they have taken food from their food dish and stored it away for safekeeping. When you leave or if you have a moment away unexpectedly, they will be able to retreat to this stash and will have at least one to two days worth of food stored there for them to consume. This can put your mind at ease if you worry about them having extra. 

© Image by Kira Hoffmann from Pixabay

How To Leave Food and Water for an Extended Period of Time 

Your hamster should always have food and water available to it, regardless of if you are leaving or not. Therefore, it makes it quite easy to set them up with enough food that you can leave without having to worry if they are happy and healthy. There are a few different tips and tricks for this, but they are simple and easy to implement. Just remember that each hamster is different and some may require more or less depending on their habits. 

If you are only leaving for a few days and your hamster has its own reserve as well as a full food dish (one serving of about a teaspoon ) and a full water bottle, there is no more that you need to do. For 48 hours, this is plenty of food for your hamster as long as they are fully grown, are not ill or injured, and have easy access to their food, water, and any small treats within their cage that you left for them. 

However, if you do leave for longer than 48 hours, your hamster is going to need more than his average daily food amount. You want to be sure to give them a good amount of dry food (this is what is going to act as the staple and will be the most filling for them), plenty of water, and then you also want to add food that is very dense in water like mentioned earlier. This will help to give them plenty to choose from, but will also extend how much each lasts. 

For dry food, you need to leave two to three tablespoons of dry food that is their commercial hamster food that will either be grains, seeds, or pellets. This should be enough to last them for around three days on top of what they have hoarded beneath their substrate. On top of this, add a dry biscuit within their cage so that they have something secondary to nibble on that will fill their bellies, but will also keep them entertained. 

Along with the dry options, they need a few varieties of various water-based fruits. As previously discussed, these are wonderful options that not only add to their food intake but also aid in water intake as well. You can add small slices of apples, seedless grapes, cucumbers, and lettuce. Really, anything that you have on hand that is generally high in water content will likely work just fine.