Hamsters come from desert regions, meaning they can withstand warm temperatures. However, captive hamsters haven’t adapted to extreme temperatures and are at risk of overheating.
Hamsters should be kept in temperatures of 65-75 degrees. Temperatures above 80 degrees are too hot, resulting in stress, heatstroke, dehydration, and organ failure. Hamsters can’t cool down by sweating or panting, so move them to the coldest part of the house and provide a cool pad.
Temperatures can fluctuate in the summer months, so owners should monitor the heat levels to prevent their hamsters from overheating, getting sick, and dying.
How Hot Is Too Hot for Hamsters?
Hamsters have a hard time cooling and warming their bodies.
Laboratory Animal Medicine explains how hamsters are best suited to mild temperatures of 68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, although experts agree that 65 to 75 degrees is safe.
Hamsters don’t cope well with extreme temperatures. Direct sunlight and the warm summer months can adversely affect your hamster if you don’t regulate the temperature.
How Hot Can Hamsters Tolerate?
As mentioned, temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are far too warm for hamsters.
Some enclosures can be adapted to maintain the right temperature by using cooling devices and wood-based substrates that are more comfortable than paper-based bedding.
However, owners must use a temperature gauge to ensure conditions don’t become too hot.
Can Hamsters Die From Heat?
Hamsters living in warm environments are at risk of the following:
Heatstroke is among the most common side effects of heat exposure. Heatstroke severely affects hamsters because they can’t always escape the heat, leaving them vulnerable to heat exhaustion.
According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, hamsters don’t have sweat glands, meaning they can’t pant to cool down. This leaves them vulnerable to heatstroke or sleep disease, as it’s also known.
Hamsters with heatstroke tremble when touched and appear limp and lifeless.
They need emergency veterinary care to prevent organ damage. Unfortunately, hamsters exposed to high temperatures for too long often experience irreversible harm.
Dehydration is caused by excessive water loss through prolonged heat exposure.
As hamsters can’t sweat, they lose water through their saliva, vomit, urine, and diarrhea. Diarrhea is a condition that kills hamsters in a matter of hours in hot temperatures.
The most common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Increased thirst.
- Sunken eyes.
- Tight, dry skin.
- Lack of energy (lethargy).
- Weight loss.
- Poor fur quality.
- Lack of grooming ability.
Give your hamster water and feed it watery fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce and cucumber.
Temperatures above 75 degrees cause the blood to thicken, preventing air from circulating. Once this happens, it doesn’t take long for organ failure to occur, killing the hamster.
When temperatures reach 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, hamsters become stressed.
How Do I Know If My Hamster Is Too Hot?
You’ll know if your hamster is too hot because it’ll look and behave differently from normal.
For starters, your hamster will feel warm to the touch. It may also remain in its burrows for longer as it’s cooler. Other overheating symptoms include:
- Panting or quicker-than-normal breathing.
- Slobbering or wetness around the nose and mouth.
- A bright red tongue.
- Lethargy and weakness.
- Difficulty walking.
- Wet, greasy coat.
- Weight loss.
- Constant thirst.
You may also notice that your hamster suddenly develops white teeth.
Hot hamsters will become agitated as they struggle to cope with the temperature. Even the tamest and most temperate hamsters may bite their owners due to stress from overheating.
How To Keep a Hamster Cool in Hot Weather
Ensure the hamster stays cool if your home becomes warmer than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitor the hamster during the summer for symptoms of heatstroke and follow these steps:
Walk through your house during the middle of the day to identify the coolest area. However, the room you choose must be quiet enough for the hamster to get enough sleep during the day.
Because heat rises, you should place your hamster on the lower floors, such as in a basement. A tiled room is another good spot, as it’s likely cooler than a room with carpets.
You can ventilate the room by opening windows or using a fan to circulate air around the room. However, there are two things to consider:
- Draughty locations.
- Fans are pointing directly at the cage.
Even though hot temperatures are dangerous, the cold is just as bad as hamsters can develop hypothermia and go into torpor. According to the Royal Society, this temporary hibernation occurs when hamsters are exposed to sudden cold temperature drops.
You’ll also need to ensure your hamster’s cage is well-ventilated. Barred enclosures already provide plenty of air circulation, but glass and acrylic tanks need a mesh lid to maintain adequate airflow.
No Direct Sunlight
You’ll need to position your hamster out of direct sunlight to keep it cool. Direct light causes heatstroke and dehydration – both of which kill in a matter of hours on a hot day.
Use a net curtain or blinds to filter out the sun, ensuring your hamster still has access to light to maintain its day-to-night sleeping pattern.
Similarly, keep your hamster away from radiators, heaters, and lit fireplaces to prevent heat exhaustion.
Limit Activity Levels
While hamsters benefit from out-of-cage exercise time, avoid playing too often when it’s hot.
However, some hamsters become stressed if they don’t get daily access to the wider environment. In that case, allow free roaming in the evening when it gets cool.
You can drape a frozen towel or blanket over the cage during the summer. However, be careful not to restrict airflow and remove the towel once it drips.
Providing clean water is essential all year round, but it’s most important in the summer.
Your hamster is more likely to drink more when it’s hot, so frequently refresh the water to prevent it from becoming warm and stale.
Also, if you use a water bottle, check it throughout the day to ensure it doesn’t become blocked, leak, or stop working.
You can even provide a frozen water bottle to give your hamster something to cool itself against.
Fill an empty bottle halfway with water and put it in the freezer until it becomes solid. Wrap it in a towel and place it in your hamster’s cage. An ice pack works just as well.
Made from ceramic or terracotta, hamsters will lay on a cool pad when they feel too hot, reducing their body temperature from underneath.
You can even put your cool pad in the fridge before your hamster awakens.
You can help a hamster cool off by freezing its treats or giving it something to lick on to reduce its body temperature. Once the treats thaw, your hamster will eat the food.
Maintaining a comfortable temperature is essential throughout the year, especially in the summer. Allowing the temperature to get too hot can be fatal.