Last Updated on: 25th September 2023, 11:14 am
Sometimes, you can assess a hamster’s health by evaluating fecal waste. Understanding what’s considered normal vs. abnormal hamster poop allows you to determine if your pet is unwell.
Hamster poop comprises small droppings the size of a grain of rice and dark brown, almost black. You’ll find hamster droppings all over a cage because rodent pets defecate regularly.
Lighter brown or white feces can suggest a hamster is hydrated or has a dietary deficiency. Green poop is usually a side effect of eating vegetables, with the droppings dyed by chlorophyll.
Yellow feces suggests a hamster’s poop is diluted by urine, or it may be constipated. Red droppings can denote the presence of blood in a hamster’s poop, which is particularly concerning.
Hamster droppings should be firm, easy to pick up, squeezable, and not smell.
Seek veterinary advice if a hamster produces clear diarrhea, especially if it clings to the fur, tail, or anus. This suggests the hamster has contracted the bacterial disease “wet tail.”
How Much Does a Hamster Poop?
Hamsters have a fast metabolism and like to eat little and often, so they defecate regularly throughout the day. It’s common for a young, healthy hamster to poop at least once an hour when awake.
If a hamster releases feces more often, consider a possible explanation.
Reasons for hamsters to poop near-constantly include changes to diet or stress, potentially caused by rehoming, excessive handling, boredom, or an unsanitary living environment.
Older hamsters (old age is species-specific) will start to poop with less frequency. This is because their digestive systems slow with age. A pet hamster should still empty its bowels regularly.
See a veterinarian if you don’t find fecal waste in a hamster’s cage for 24 hours.
Where Do Hamsters Poop?
Most captive hamsters take a “when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go” approach to pooping. You’ll likely find feces all over a hamster’s cage and bedding.
Some hamsters poop in their food bowl, especially at night. While this sounds unsanitary, the hamster sees it as an opportunity to gain more nutrition from food that has not been fully digested.
If a hamster poops on the floor of its cage, you must conduct daily spot cleaning. If you wish to reduce the time spent removing waste from the top substrate layer, you can potty train your hamster.
How to Potty Train a Hamster
It can take time to potty train a hamster, as your pet may not immediately understand your intentions. If you have the desire to attempt training, follow these steps:
- Buy a small animal litter box, or use an egg cup or Tupperware container. The litter box needs to be accessible enough for a hamster to climb in and out of easily.
- Line the litter box with a substrate. Avoid anything a hamster will enjoy rolling or bathing in.
- Check the cage and find an area where the hamster relieves itself, locating the litter box in this position. Don’t randomly place the litter box where it looks best, as the hamster may ignore it.
- Place some soiled bedding and a couple of existing poop pellets in the litter box.
- Wait for the hamster to wake up, and place it in the litter box.
The hamster will smell its waste and, with luck, make the connection between the litter box and elimination from now on.
Even a potty-trained hamster will occasionally leave a trail of poop in its wake while exploring a cage, but assigning a designated area for waste will reduce this habit.
Are Hamster Droppings Big or Small?
As hamsters are small animals, their waste is equally diminutive. A healthy hamster will release fecal droppings roughly the size of a grain of rice and oval in shape.
Younger hamsters and those who have recently been rehomed and are adapting to a new diet will usually release larger droppings than older animals.
What Color is Hamster Poop Supposed to Be?
Abnormal colors in hamster waste are often a sign of sickness. What color should hamster poop be? This table will help shine a light on whether your pet’s feces are considered regular or unhealthy:
|This is the standard color for normal hamster droppings. The darker, the better – the poop of a happy and healthy hamster should be almost black.
|If a hamster’s poop is starting to lighten, review its diet and check the temperature around its cage because the hamster may be hydrating to excess.
|Gray poop is usually just aged droppings. Remove any gray droppings from a cage on sight, as they have been there for a while.
|White droppings are often a warning sign of nutritional deficiency in hamsters. Feed high-quality muesli or pellets, and cut back on fresh vegetables or treats.
|If a hamster’s poop is starting to lighten, review its diet and check the temperature.
|Green droppings are rarely anything to worry about in hamsters. This is usually just a side effect of feeding leafy greens rich in chlorophyll, a compound that dyes waste.
|Dark red droppings suggest internal bleeding, while bright red waste may be caused by fresh blood when passing waste, potentially due to constipation or dehydration.
Color isn’t the only consideration when assessing hamster waste, so review the texture and smell.
Should Hamster Droppings be Firm?
Hamster droppings should be firm and easy to pick up.
Wear gloves or use a scoop while doing so, as The New England Journal of Medicine warns that rodent feces can contain the bacteria Salmonella enterica.
You should be able to squeeze a hamster dropping without resistance.
A hamster may be dehydrated if the poop feels very solid and rigid. Reduce the temperature, encourage more drinking, and offer a couple of more vegetables as treats.
Droppings released at night will be softer, although still solid.
As discussed, hamsters consume these droppings to gain additional nutrients. Known as caecotrophs, these droppings provide a hamster with nutrients like cobalamin (Vitamin B12.)
While cobalamin is found in most hamster foods, it’s not always absorbed initially. This is why night droppings are softer. By eating this waste, the hamster maximizes its nutrition.
Caecotrophs are still solid. If a hamster releases excessively loose, soft droppings, or especially if it has diarrhea, something is wrong with its health.
Why Does My Hamster Have Soft Poop?
Slightly softer poop than usual could result from excessive hydration or feeding vegetables as treats, especially if the droppings are also green.
If the hamster starts releasing clear, watery diarrhea, ill health is likely the cause.
While a single bout of diarrhea could be caused by stress or a sudden change in diet, always be vigilant about the warning signs of proliferative ileitis, aka “wet tail.”
Wet tail is an often fatal bacterial infection in hamsters that must be treated urgently.
Aside from watery stools, Laboratory Animal Medicine lists the additional symptoms:
- Lethargy and inactivity.
- Hunching over as though managing abdominal pain.
- Swelling around the belly.
- Rectal prolapse.
The more symptoms you recognize, the less likely a hamster is to recover. See a vet and undertake a course of antibiotics at the first warning sign of wet tail to improve the hamster’s prognosis.
Wet tail is most common in young Syrian hamsters, though pets of any age can develop the concern, especially if stressed and fed an inappropriate diet.
Wet tail isn’t zoonotic and won’t impact human health, but it’s highly contagious among hamsters.
Does Hamster Poop Smell?
Hamster urine can carry a strong ammonia scent, especially if you aren’t vigilant about spot-cleaning a cage and removing soiled substrate or bedding. However, droppings should have a neutral aroma.
If you change a hamster’s diet, introducing red meat or eggs, a scent may arise from hamster droppings.
A lingering foul smell from feces, or emanating from the hamster itself, could be a warning sign of a bowel or digestive infection and merits investigation.
Should Hamsters Have Poop in Their Fur?
Healthy hamsters release waste into the cage floor or a litter tray, leaving little trace of their feces in their fur. Any poop that clings to the coat will usually be cleaned up by the hamster when grooming.
If you find traces of damp fecal matter on a hamster’s fur, it likely has wet tail.
As well as being painful and life-threatening to the hamster’s health, this lack of cleanliness will cause stress for these fastidiously clean animals. Seek urgent medical advice.
Even if a hamster survives a bout of wet tail, or is provided with a clean bill of health by a vet, don’t ignore poop clinging to fur. This can attract flies to a hamster cage, leading to flystrike.
Fly strike is arguably the most horrific disease that any hamster can develop.
It involves flies gathering on the rodent’s fur to consume feces and laying eggs within the anus. These eggs will hatch into larvae, which feast on the hamster’s internal soft tissue.
If your hamster struggles to keep itself clean, perhaps due to advancing age causing limited mobility, get some hamster-safe cleaning wipes from a pet store to assist with daily grooming.
Ignoring hamster droppings’ color, texture, shape, and smell is impossible because you’ll regularly remove waste from the cage. Turn this to your advantage by reviewing your hamster’s poop regularly.