Home » Do Hamsters Make Your Room Smell? [Clean vs. Stinky Pets]
do hamsters stink up your room?
Questions And Answers

Do Hamsters Make Your Room Smell? [Clean vs. Stinky Pets]

(Last Updated On: February 27, 2023)

When keeping a hamster as a pet, unpleasant odors can sometimes accumulate. Hamsters are clean animals, but owners must sterilize their cages regularly to avoid bad smells.

A hamster won’t make a room smell bad, but an unclean cage will. Hamsters drink more water than other rodent pets, causing them to pee more frequently. Hamster pee has a pungent odor due to ammonia. Spot clean a hamster’s cage and remove any soiled food and bedding to avoid foul smells.

Also, you can train your hamster to urinate in a specific part of its cage, making it easier to clean. Providing adequate ventilation will help remove unpleasant odors.

Do Hamsters Smell Really Bad?

Hamsters hate to be dirty, so they keep themselves clean when they have the means to do so.

By keeping clean, wild hamsters can protect themselves from predators by remaining undetected, increasing their chances of survival.

Hamsters don’t wash with water; they lick and groom their fur, keeping the natural oils intact. They also take a sand bath, which is a natural abrasive for removing dirt and debris from their coats. The sand also absorbs excess oils without removing the natural oils entirely.

Many new owners don’t realize that sand is an integral part of their hamster’s cage set-up, causing them to become unclean over time. If your hamster starts to smell, it’s likely for these reasons:

  • The cage is filthy
  • Not potty trained
  • Not enough ventilation
  • Eating too many acidic foods

Syrian hamsters smell when they’re in heat. According to Physiology and Behavior, the flank glands release pheromones to attract members of the opposite sex, mark their territory, and assert dominance. They’re more prominent in male Syrian hamsters, but females have them too.

That said, unless you’re not keeping the cage clean or providing the right opportunities for your hamster to keep itself washed, it’ll eventually develop a urine or poop smell.

Hamsters drink lots of water and pee more frequently than other rodents.

Their urine has a strong scent, and if owners don’t wash their hamster’s tubes, tunnels, platforms, and running wheel often enough, the cage will smell.

do hamsters smell really bad?

Do Hamsters Stink up Your Room?

A hamster won’t make a room smell if you practice good hygiene.

Hamster urine is the main culprit of bad odors. Leaving it in your pet hamster’s enclosure won’t take long to make the entire room stink.

However, keeping your hamster’s cage clean will ensure that you won’t have odors aside from the natural smell of bedding. This shouldn’t be unpleasant, but adequate ventilation will be beneficial.

Why Does My Hamster’s Urine Smell So Bad?

Hamster urine is unpleasant but relatively weak in small quantities as it mostly comprises water. If your hamster produces foul-smelling urine, it could be connected to a health concern.

For example, bladder and kidney infections cause bad-smelling, discolored urine. Age is another factor, as the kidneys don’t function as well in later life as when the hamster’s young.

The common signs of a UTI or kidney infection include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Staining or blood
  • Increased water consumption
  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness

These health conditions won’t improve, so you’ll need to take your hamster to a vet specializing in small animals to get prescribed antibiotics.

Do Hamsters Smell Bad When They Hibernate?

Hibernating hamsters rarely smell unpleasant. Their bedding may become more smelly from where the hamster urinates and doesn’t move, but the animal shouldn’t smell bad unless it has a health condition.

However, the reality is that pet hamsters shouldn’t hibernate; they don’t live in harsh conditions, so they have no reason to do so. Hamsters don’t experience true hibernation, but a condition called torpor.

This occurs when hamsters are exposed to cold temperatures for too long. Torpor isn’t hibernation as such, as it lasts for shorter periods. It looks very similar, though.

If your hamster has stopped moving and smells unpleasant, there’s a high chance it’s died. To find out if your hamster is dead or hibernating, check for signs of breathing or rigor mortis.

Do Hamsters Smell Bad When They Die?

Like all animals, hamsters produce a foul odor when they die. However, whether you can detect the scent depends on how long the hamster’s been dead, as they won’t smell until they start to decompose.

If you find your hamster a few hours after it passes, the decomposition process won’t have started. So, it won’t smell much different from when it was alive.

It’ll begin to smell after a couple of days. Warm temperatures may also speed up decomposition, causing your hamster to smell bad prematurely.

How Often Should I Clean My Hamsters Cage?

Hamsters become stressed if their bedding is changed too regularly, as they feel vulnerable and no longer see their cage as their territory if they can’t detect their scent.

Similarly, hamsters make deep, intricate burrows and stash their food where it can’t easily be found. Destroying or removing their tunnels causes anxiety and stress.

That’s why it’s better to remove soiled sections of their bedding every other day and replace only what’s needed. Don’t remove more than 1/3rd of the bedding at one time.

Remove any soiled or rotting food when removing urine-covered bedding so your hamster can’t get sick.

If you have a sand bath, sift through it using a sieve to remove clumpy, soiled patches and leave the rest.

If your hamster uses an area of its cage to go to the toilet, you can get away with spot cleaning most of the time, doing a more intensive cleaning once a month.

For hamsters that urinate all over their cage, once a week or bi-weekly should be enough. You’ll discover your hamster’s right schedule once you understand its habits more.

what to do when your hamster smells bad

What To Do When Your Hamster Smells Bad

While cleaning your hamster’s cage is the best way to remove nasty odors from your room, there are steps you can take to minimize any smells until it’s time to clean, including:


If your cage has bars, you shouldn’t need to provide too much additional ventilation to remove the ammonia smell. However, acrylic or glass tanks trap odors, so you must ensure sufficient ventilation to allow the urine smell to exit through the roof.

A mesh lid is ideal, as opening your window even slightly can waft the unpleasant aromas away. However, ensure that this doesn’t make the room temperature too cold.

Odor Controlling Bedding

When choosing hamster bedding, ensure that it’s absorbent and controls odors. The best types include:

  • Paper-based bedding, such as Kaytee Clean and Cozy, Carefresh, and So Phresh
  • Shredded tissue paper
  • Aspen
  • Chipsi Original
  • Teabag bedding

Get absorbent bedding to keep bad smells at bay until you spot clean.

Sand Bath

You can create a specific section of sand separated by wooden bridges or use a plastic box or a deep ceramic dish with a couple of inches of sand.

Dwarf hamsters enjoy sand baths more than Syrians, so they benefit from a larger section of their cage consisting of sand.

Encourage your hamster to use the corner of its cage by placing a potty tray or dish with a small amount of soiled bedding in the spot you’d like your hamster to pee and poop.

Hamsters are intelligent animals and will eventually learn where their toilet is.

Healthy Diet

Acidic foods can affect a hamster’s digestive system, so you must only provide them in moderation alongside pellets, seeds, fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, and plant matter.

The Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine explains how vets recommend pellets or lab blocks as the primary food source. Similarly, limit the number of certain vegetables you give your hamster, such as:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus

Rotting foods will smell after a while, so remove them from the cage before they spoil. Also, only give your hamster what it can physically eat at a time.  

You’ll likely experience some smell when keeping a hamster. However, it shouldn’t be too unpleasant. Keep on top of a regular cleaning schedule to avoid unwanted odor issues.