Last Updated on: 25th September 2023, 10:27 am
While hamsters like to dwell in warm conditions, it’s important to understand the role humidity plays in their health. If your home is too dry, your hamster’s health will likely suffer.
The ideal humidity level for a hamster is 40-60%. Get a hygrometer to ensure the hamster’s tank meets this requirement. Alternatively, you may wish to consider getting a humidifier.
Humidifiers will maintain a steady and reliable humidity level, and you can adjust settings based on seasonal changes. This will prevent dry skin, ease any symptoms of respiratory infections, promote shedding, and minimize airborne bacteria.
It’s easy to introduce too much humidity into a hamster’s territory, so never allow the air to become so moist that it feels cool or damp. Using a humidifier can make it easy to control conditions.
Do Hamsters Like Humidity?
As hamsters have desert-dwelling ancestors, you’d be forgiven for assuming they disliked humidity and preferred dry, arid air. In reality, hamsters need humidity to breathe easily and remain comfortable.
Depending on where you live and the ambient temperature in your home, you may need to use a humidifier to keep your hamster healthy and feeling good.
A hamster will struggle to stay warm and dry if a room is too humid because it’ll make them miserable and can lead to health concerns.
In extreme cases, a captive hamster may even choose to hibernate until it warms up. Humidity can also make it hard for hamsters to breathe.
A lack of humidity can also make a hamster uncomfortable. Hamsters can suffer from heat stress, especially if housed in a solid tank made of glass, so manage the humidity level in a room.
What Humidity Level is Best for Hamsters?
An ambient temperature of 65–75°F is considered optimum for hamsters, and this should be accompanied by a humidity level between 40% and 60%.
Get a thermometer and hygrometer for the home to ensure you maintain these conditions.
Are Humidifiers Safe for Hamsters?
If an appropriate ambient humidity in a room is difficult to maintain for a hamster, you may wish to get a humidifier. To help assess the decision, review this table:
|You can always control the humidity level, increasing or decreasing it as required.
|Humidifiers can be expensive in terms of purchase price and electricity usage.
|Sufficient humidity will control levels of airborne bacteria.
|Hamsters love to chew cables.
|A hamster will retain a consistent temperature.
|Excess humidity encourages mold growth, potentially harming a hamster.
If you wish to use a humidifier, decide between a cool-mist or warm–mist model. The latter will use boiling water to release droplets into the air, while the latter runs on cold water. A cool-mist humidifier is recommended to avoid the risk of hazards in the event of spillage.
Think about a humidifier’s sound, as hamsters are easily spooked and stressed by loud noises. An ultrasonic humidifier is the quietest model, which generates humidity through vibrations.
Just ensure your hamster’s excellent hearing isn’t disturbed by these frequencies.
As per Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, many rodents communicate using ultrasonic sounds, so the constant presence of such noise may confuse and distress your hamster.
Consider where you’ll place the humidifier. Too close to a hamster’s cage may create a draught and drop the ambient temperature too much, but too far away will limit the impact.
How Does Humidity Affect Hamsters?
To understand whether you should get a humidifier, let’s review the benefits:
All hamsters can struggle with dry skin, especially as they grow older. You’ll notice this when petting or grooming your pet, as the skin will feel scaly. Your hamster will also show signs of pain and sensitivity.
Most of the time, dry skin is caused by a lack of hydration. While regularly drinking water will help with this, maintaining sufficient airborne moisture also plays a major part in the process.
If you purchase a humidifier for your hamster’s room, regularly check its fur.
If it is wet to the touch, the air is too humid, and your hamster’s health will suffer. You have found the ideal conditions if the fur feels soft and the skin is not brittle.
Like all animals, hamsters need to molt and shed their fur when warmer weather arrives. Moisture and humidity in the air will make this process simpler and more organic for a hamster.
Note that there’s a difference between natural shedding and a hamster losing large tufts of fur. If your hamster pulls out its fur, it should be considered an act of self-mutilation.
However, hamsters with long coats will shed regularly and show no ill effects – a new, shiny coat will grow to replace lost fur. Bringing a humidifier into a room can ensure this process unfolds organically.
Eases Symptoms of Respiratory Infection
Hamsters are prone to respiratory infections caused by viral infections or environmental bacteria. This can result in symptoms including streaming eyes and nose, coughing, and trouble breathing.
If your hamster has a respiratory infection, the likeliest remedy will be a warm room and plenty of rest. A humidifier can reduce tightness in your hamster’s chest and make breathing easier.
Watch your hamster recover from the infection, ensuring it does not grow too cold and shivering. If your hamster is damp to the touch, the air is too humid, and the infection will worsen.
Controls Bacterial Growth and Spread
As explained by Environmental Microbiology, bacteria and humidity are intrinsically linked. While excessive humidity in a room encourages mold growth, insufficient humidity encourages airborne bacteria to spread.
Hamster cages can be a bacterial minefield due to fecal waste, urine, and uneaten food buried in the substrate. Left unmanaged, this creates potential hazards for a hamster to inhale.
If you maintain an appropriate humidity level in a room, the air will be distributed evenly, and your hamster is less likely to breathe in dangerous vapors.
This benefit is more related to human owners, but it remains important.
Hamsters aren’t the smelliest of pets, but they can produce a distinct and funky odor from their pores. This aroma will be considerably more manageable if the air is sufficiently humid.
Alternatives to Humidifiers for Hamsters
If you can’t afford a humidifier or would rather not bring technology into the hamster’s territory, you may wish to consider alternatives. Ways to make a room more humid without machinery include:
- Boiling water on a stove or kettle and closing doors to retain this steam.
- Fill a room with hamster-safe plants that increase air quality. Your pet will also enjoy interacting with these plants during exercise time outside the cage.
- Place water-filled vases in front of windows, as sunlight will make the water evaporate.
- Balance a bowl of cool water on a radiator while the central heating is on (if it is safe), which will have the same effect.
As always, you’ll need to monitor how a hamster reacts to the increased humidity caused by these actions, increasing or decreasing humidity accordingly.
An appropriate humidity level in the home is an important consideration in hamster care, so find a way to maintain an appropriate atmosphere.
A humidifier could be the most effective way to keep your hamster happy and healthy.