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How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone? Vet-Verified Care Tips

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

Fluffy Syrian Hamster with wooden hamster house in a cage

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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Just because you have a hamster at home doesn’t mean you can’t get away from time to time. But before you take your next trip, you need to know exactly how long your hamster can stay at home without you.

While a hamster can survive for 48 hours without access to food and water, you should never leave a hamster alone this long without these essentials. In fact, even if they have these essentials, 48 hours is really the longest you should leave them alone without care, and even then, it’s best to have someone checking in on them each day to provide plenty of mental stimulation and ensure they always have fresh food and water.


What Should You Do Before Leaving Your Hamster Alone?

If you need to leave your hamster alone for a few days, there are a few things you need to do before you leave. For starters, do your best to try and get someone to come in and check on them each day, or at the very least every other day.

Next, ensure you clean the cage before you leave and give them plenty of food and water to hold them over. If you have someone stopping by to check on them, ensure they clean the cage, feed them, and top off their water while they’re there.

Hamsters are natural hoarders, and therefore, a few days before you leave, you can give them some dry food to store in their favorite den or hideout. This way, they’ll have access to a stash of food in your absence. However, this also means that you should ensure there isn’t any fresh food in their enclosure before you leave, as, left for two days, it will spoil and make your hamster ill.

It is very important to note that hamsters will naturally hibernate whenever the temperature in your house drops below 5°C (41°F). Hamsters do not fatten before hibernation and will starve unless they waken periodically to eat. If your house will not remain warm enough for your hamster in your absence, you should not leave them unsupervised.

roborovski dwarf hamster
Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock


Tips for Caring for Your Hamster While You’re Away

Regardless of how long you’ll be gone, if you have arranged for someone to check in on them, here are a few things they need to be doing.

1. Spend Time With Them

Hamsters aren’t the most social creatures, but they do get used to a routine and having people around. Make sure that your pet sitter spends at least 15 minutes with them either before or after they do the following tips in this guide.

2. Always Give Them Access to Water

syrian hamster in cage drinking from water bottle
Photo Credit: JessicaGirvan, Shutterstock

A hamster should have constant access to water, and there are a few different ways to do this. Bowls are not recommended for hamsters, as they may urinate or defecate in them, or tip them over. Your hamster may also accidentally step in water (they hate getting wet). You should use a no-drip hamster water bottle, and ideally, you should place extra water bottles around your pet’s enclosure before you leave them to their own devices.

It is very important to ensure that the bottles are functioning properly before you leave – if you place your finger on the end of the bottle’s tube and push slightly, water should flow out of the bottle and make your finger wet.

3. Keep Their Cage Clean

A dirty cage can lead to a sick hamster in no time, and it’s often one of the most overlooked parts of owning a hamster. If you can convince them, have your sitter clean the cage at least a couple of times while you’re away. Hamsters can be toilet trained and usually only defecate and urinate in a dedicated spot away from their favorite den or sleeping place. Ask your sitter to focus on these spots the most.

4. Give Them a High-Quality Diet

hamster eating
Photo Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Part of keeping your hamster happy and healthy is ensuring you give them the best quality diet, and that all starts with plenty of hay and some high-quality commercial pellet feed. Make sure to write out detailed instructions for anyone watching them so that your hamster’s diet doesn’t suffer just because you’re getting a little relaxation time in.


Final Thoughts

Now that you know a little more about how long you can leave your hamster alone, it’s time for you to find someone to watch them or take the necessary steps to care for them while you’re away. Once you have it all squared away, you can start planning your next trip and enjoy some time away, regardless of having pets at home.

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Featured Image Credit: FUN FUN PHOTO, Shutterstock

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