Are you curious about the best way to provide water for your hamster? The choice between using a water bowl or a water bottle is ultimately up to you, as both options are safe when used correctly and have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s go through the pros and cons of each option so you can find the right choice for you and your hamster.
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Water Bottle vs. Water Bowl for Hamsters
- Water can’t get contaminated with bedding or dirt.
- Can’t be tipped over by your pet.
- Can easily malfunction and stop releasing water, start dripping, or empty the entire water in the cage.
- Needs to be regularly checked to see if it’s working to prevent dehydration.
- It releases water one drop at a time, and this slow and obstructed water flow can be frustrating for your hamster.
- Requires your hamster to drink at an awkward angle. If the spout is positioned too high or too low, it can be hard for the hamster to drink from it.
- Hamsters may chew on the spout, which can damage their teeth.
- Harder to clean than a bowl because you have to take it apart each time. A small opening also makes it difficult to reach every part of the bottle.
- It can easily start growing algae or bacteria if it’s not cleaned often enough, especially in the nozzle, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria due to its dark and moist conditions.
- Some hamsters can have a hard time understanding how to drink from a water bottle, and some might never get the hang of it.
- Due to the substantial amount of water a bottle can hold, some owners might not replace the water often enough.
- Hamsters can be noisy when using a bottle which might be an issue during the night if your hamster’s cage is in your bedroom.
- If you’re using a plastic bottle, your hamster might chew through it.
You should regularly check the water bottle to see if it’s working properly. Not being able to access water for only a day or two can harm your pet’s health.
If your hamster is chewing on the plastic bottle, opt for one made of glass or metal – or switch to using a bowl.
- It allows your pet to drink in a natural position, like drinking from a puddle in the wild.
- Much easier to clean and refill because you don’t have to disassemble it to clean it.
- No risk of your pet chewing through it (if you’re using a glass or ceramic bowl).
- Can easily get contaminated with dirt, so you might have to change the water more often – depending on how messy your hamster is.
- Can be tipped over if the bowl is not made of heavy-enough material.
- Some hamsters insist on sitting in their water bowl. While that is very cute to see, it makes a mess and it can strip natural oils from your pet’s skin.
What is Better to Use – a Water Bowl or a Water Bottle?
While water bottles used to be the standard among hamster owners, more and more people in the hamster-keeping community are leaning towards using bowls in recent years because of the mentioned advantages.
What is the best option for you depends mostly on your hamster. I suggest trying out a water bowl first. If your hamster is doing well with it, without continually tipping it over or getting dirt in it, you can continue using a bowl as it provides a more natural way to drink for your hamster.
Overall, I prefer bowls and feel they provide a better ratio of pros vs. cons. Still, each hamster and hamster owner has a unique situation and different preferences that will affect their choice.
How to Use a Water Bowl for Your Hamster
When using a water bowl, it’s important to consider its size, material, and location for your hamster’s safety and well-being.
What Kind of Water Bowl to Use?
A small, durable bowl that is difficult to tip over, such as one made of ceramic or glass, is a great choice. A 3-inch (8 cm) diameter bowl or smaller is a good size for hamsters. Ensure it is shallow enough so your hamster can easily drink from it without straining and has no sharp edges where they can get injured.
Glass tea light holders are a popular option and work perfectly. Other good options are small rock bowls for hermit crabs, ceramic bowls designed for small pets, remekin, or sauce bowls.
Where to Put the Bowl?
To ensure the water stays clean as long as possible, place the bowl in a spot that is less likely to get dirty, such as on top of a wooden house or a raised platform. Ideally, have a ramp or a bridge to access that area, so less bedding ends up in the water.
If your hamster walks through or sits in their water dish, you can place a small rock or pebbles in the middle of the bowl to discourage them from going in. Placing a rock in a bowl is also a good way to prevent it from being tipped over, as it will make it heavier.
How About Offering Both Options?
It’s a good idea to offer both a bottle and a bowl and see what your hamster prefers.
Some hamsters prefer using a water bowl, while others ignore it and only use a bottle when both options are provided. Some use both options interchangeably. As with humans, each hamster has their own preferences.
Having both options is a smart choice if you’re not good at remembering to regularly check the bottle to make sure it’s working properly. Also, if you’re going away for a short 2-day trip, this will ensure your hamster always has water on hand.
Yes, hamsters can definitely drink from a bowl. Many hamsters prefer it over a bottle when both options are provided. Just ensure you’re using an appropriate bowl from which your hamster can easily and safely drink.
Changing your hamster’s water daily is best to prevent bacteria buildup. If you’re using a bowl, you might have to change the water a few times a day, depending on how messy your hamster is and if their water gets contaminated with bedding and dirt.
The bowl and bottle should be rinsed every day when changing the water.
A bottle should be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned with a Q-tip or a bottle brush every few days, as the nozzle can grow all kinds of nasty bacteria if you don’t clean it often enough. The dark and humid conditions in the nozzle make it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
A bowl should also be washed with warm water and a gentle detergent on a regular basis.