Hamsters are among the hardiest pets you can keep. This might be because they generally inhabit desert environments in the wild.
The dunes and steppes in this warm and dry place make the perfect habitat for these little furry animals.
As you can imagine, food is barely enough in this place, but that is nothing that affects the hamster. When this animal gets food, it can store some of it in its cheek pouch for later.
With this information, most pet owners might assume that leaving their hamsters without enough food and water for a few days will not cause much harm.
Your hamster can indeed survive for 2-4 days without food and water.
However, you should not leave the animal without these necessities for more than 24 hours.
This is because, depending on a room’s temperature and the hamster’s age, starvation might lead to grave health issues. Moreover, this might motivate the hamster to escape.
The following are answers to the common questions that hamster owners have on the survival timeline for their pets without food and water.
What to Do With Pet Hamsters When Going On Vacation?
It is almost impossible to be confined to your home throughout. You might decide to take a few days’ vacation.
The following are some steps on handling your hamster if you will be away for a few days:
– Ask Someone to Care for Your Hamster
You can have a friend or neighbor live with the hamster for a few days while you are away. Alternatively, the hamster can live in your home with the friend checking daily to ensure it has enough water and food and is comfortable.
In most localities nowadays, there are also pet-sitters. They charge a few dollars to care for your pet in a shelter or your home.
If you cannot afford full-time care, you can choose the cheaper alternative of having the sitter check on the hamster every few days. The sitters often replenish food and water in addition to cleaning the hamster’s cage.
– Set up an Automatic Feeder and Water Dispenser
Shops now stock automatic water and food dispensers that can ensure your hamster gets enough food and water daily when you are away.
The dispensers have a cut-off cord that will automatically stop the flow of food and water. As your pet consumes the food or water in a reservoir, more gets pushed down to replenish it.
– Take Your Pet Hamsters with You
Depending on your destination, you can consider taking the hamster with you. This means calling beforehand to check if the hotel allows pets and making the necessary travel arrangements for the animal.
The preparations will generally include getting the necessary vaccines and a portable cage for the hamster.
How Much Water Do Pet Hamsters Drink?
Though they live in the desert, hamsters will burrow to guarantee constant water supply for them.
They prefer having water daily to prevent dehydration-related health problems like heatstroke. The daily water requirement for a pet hamster varies according to its size.
Adult hamsters nevertheless need 5-10ml of water per day. Fruits and vegetables can also keep your hamster adequately hydrated.
Things to Consider Before Leaving
If you have decided to leave your hamster alone for a few days, you should consider the following things before leaving:
– Test the Automatic Feeder and Water Dispenser
Automatic feeders and water dispensers have a mechanism that allows them to fill up a bowl or bottle when its content falls below a set level.
Though largely fail-safe, they might malfunction and fail to fill up the bowl and bottle as needed after the hamster feeds. Furthermore, the food might block its opening and leave the bowl empty.
Before you leave, test the water dispenser and automatic feeder to ensure they are working optimally. You can also consider using them for some days before you leave to guarantee they work well.
– Write Down Instructions for the Person Caring for Your Pet
Do not assume that the care of a hamster is easy and that nothing can go wrong. Even if the sitter or friend you choose to care for your pet when you are away has a hamster or is trained to take care of one, leave him/her written instructions.
This is because animals are different, and their care is not universal. You can also include some tidbits on your pet’s normal behavior. This way, the person will pick anything out of the ordinary in your pet quickly and intervene.
– Make Sure Your Hamster is in Good Health
Before leaving, take your hamster to the vet for a checkup. You want to ensure that your pet is in good health before your trip.
Even with instructions and tidbits on your hamster’s normal behavior, the person caring for it might not pick any health issues early if the pet looks fine.
A trip to the vet gives you the peace of mind that the hamster is in good health before you leave.
If there are any issues, communicate the same to the person who will care for the hamster and have the vet follow up later.
Change the Bedding Before you Leave and Provide Extra Bedding
The bedding you pick for your hamster should be comfortable and safe because the pet will be in contact with it for long periods. Aspen or pine shavings and paper shredding are your best bedding options.
The hamster’s bedding is ideally changed at least once weekly so that the cage remains odor-free. When going away, change the bedding and then leave extra for the weekly change.
You are sure your hamster will be well comfortable with the above steps when you are away from the house. Keep the hamster away from large animals like dogs and cats that might harass it while you are away.
Furthermore, place the cage away from exposed areas since these put your pet at risk of heatstroke from excess heat and hibernation in excess cold.