Home » Why Does My Hamster’s Water Bottle Keep Leaking?
why isn't my hamster's water bottle working?
Questions And Answers

Why Does My Hamster’s Water Bottle Keep Leaking?

Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 10:30 pm

Water bottles can crack, leak, or condense, rendering them less effective or non-functional.  

Hamsters require 4.5-14ml of water per 100mg of body weight. Although this is much less than in larger animals, water deprivation can still lead to dehydration or even death.

You must ensure that a hamster’s access to water is never interrupted. If you’ve discovered that the hamster’s water bottle is leaking, you’ll need to fix or replace it.

How Does a Hamster Water Bottle Work?

Water bottles (also known as sipper bottles) dispense water to hamsters.

Sipper bottles comprise a plastic cylinder or tube that holds the water, a plastic cup, and a metal tube containing a ball bearing.

The presence of the ball bearing creates a vacuum that prevents water from flowing out.

When a hamster presses against the ball bearing, it moves slightly up the tube, thus allowing water to drip. Consequently, the hamster needs to lick the ball bearing to drink.

Why is My Hamster’s Water Bottle Leaking?

Once you discover that the hamster’s water bottle is leaking, you may be tempted to replace it. However, the issue can usually be fixed with some adjustments.

how do I stop my hamsters water bottle from leaking?

Loose Lid

If you notice that the lid is leaking, check that it’s fitted tightly. Usually, if the top is loose or the threads are misaligned, leaks occur because the water-tight seal is compromised.

Remove the lid, fill the bottle with water, put it back on, and tighten it. Ensure the threads are matched up, and tilt the lid upside down to check for additional leaks.

If the bottle leaks after securing the lid, you’re likely dealing with a different issue. If the bottle holds its water-tight seal, pay attention to the fit when refilling it.

Crack in The Bottle

If the lid isn’t at fault, check the structural integrity of the bottle.

Most hamster bottles are made of plastic. Some are hard plastic resistant to chewing, and others are thin plastic. That could allow the hamster to gnaw through the water bottle as a toy.

Even if the bottle uses durable plastic, this can degrade over the years and eventually allow fissures to develop in the shell of the bottle.

Hamsters may gnaw on the bottle for entertainment and to sand down their teeth, preventing them from growing into the gums and causing injuries.

So, just because the bottle appears too thick for the hamster to get through doesn’t mean damage can’t happen. Even if the teeth are worn away against the rough surface, the hamster will keep going. Eventually, the water bottle will succumb.

Whatever the case, fixing a cracked bottle might be tenable if the crack is small and easy to seal. In this case, you can use non-toxic glue to seal the fissure, as long as you ensure it’s dried before placing the water bottle in the hamster’s cage again.

Depending on if the plastic broke due to old age or chewing, you may also use tape to seal the hole. Even pet-safe tapes and glues may be bad for your hamster despite being non-toxic.

However, if the bottle has a sizable crack, get a replacement. Large cracks are likely to reopen or spread, making the entire unit more prone to leaking.

Gasket Is Damaged or Broken

​​When you remove the cap on the hamster’s water bottle, you should notice a rubber gasket (O-ring).

This component creates a strong seal to prevent water from flowing out. Therefore, the bottle will drip indefinitely if this rubber gasket is missing or broken.

Gaskets are subject to natural wear and tear when used for long periods. So, checking the gasket regularly is recommended to ensure it’s working.

Failure to do so could lead to the hamster being unable to drink until you notice. Not drinking water can be dangerous, so check it once every 1-2 days.

O-rings are easy to replace and can be bought from a hardware store. Remember to bring the bottle along when replacing the gasket so you can match it with the right size.

The Ball Bearing Is Displaced

Hamster water bottles contain one or more metal ball bearings within the drinking tube.

When the balls are properly positioned, they generate a vacuum that retains the water within the container. So, small quantities of water flow as the hamster licks or nudges the ball bearing.

These metal ball bearings can be displaced, which can result in leaks.

For instance, a ball bearing may become trapped further up the drinking tube, or there may not be enough water in the bottle to force the ball down.

These scenarios will result in a steady drip or stream of water from the bottle.

To remedy this problem, fill the hamster’s water bottle and shake it vigorously to move the ball to its right position. Also, wash the hamster’s bottle and drinking tube to eliminate debris and grime. This can otherwise cause the ball bearing to get stuck in the wrong location.

Always maintain a sufficient water level in the hamster’s water bottle. Remember, the ball bearing inside the drinking bottle requires water weight to create the suction that allows the hamster to drink.

If the water levels inside the bottle are too low, this can be more difficult.

how to get a hamster water bottle to work

Are Hamster Bottles Supposed to Drip?

It is normal for a hamster bottle to drip a little, even when left untouched. This drip is the initial discharge of water that occurs as the bottle creates a new vacuum seal.

For a vacuum to form inside a sealed water bottle, the water volume and air space must be up to par. The release of a few drops of water affects this equilibrium. 

If you observe a few droplets dripping from the drinking tube, it doesn’t mean the hamster’s water bottle is leaking, but check the drip isn’t constant or forming a puddle in the cage.

To establish a vacuum seal after filling the bottle, mount it and tap the ball bearing a few times with your fingertips. Doing so releases some water and speeds up the equilibrium of vacuum pressure.

What To Do If A Hamster’s Water Bottle Is Leaking

If the hamster’s water bottle stops working or begins to leak, you can fix or replace it.

The above troubleshooting process will guide you in making basic repairs to fixable problems. Sometimes, swapping out the bottle is advisable in these circumstances:

  • Profuse leaking.
  • Signs of warping, denting, chew marks, or thinning.
  • The bottle has more than a hairline crack.
  • The hamster chews on the bottle regularly.

In these cases, you risk letting the hamster’s cage get overly wet by attempting to repair the bottle. It’s likely to continue malfunctioning or be further damaged by the hamster.

You can buy several water bottles and switch them out. Alternatively, you can get a glass or metal water bottle, as they won’t face the same wear and tear as plastic bottles.