All animals have abilities that help them to survive in their natural environment. Monkeys can climb trees, otters can swim to hunt for fish, and most birds can fly. However, there are also physical activities that certain animals cannot do, or they do not have an instinct for certain actions. If you are a hamster owner, you may have wondered whether your hamster can swim or not.
Can Hamsters Swim?
In theory, a hamster is physically able to swim. However, they are not exposed to water in the wild and do not have a swimming instinct. Swimming is not a natural activity for hamsters.
Do They Like Water and Swimming?
In the wild, hamsters live in dry environments. All the foods a hamster eats are found on dry land, so they do not need to hunt for food in the water. Hamsters also do not need water for cleaning purposes as they are capable of cleaning themselves. Therefore, they do not need to touch water other than for drinking. This means that hamsters are not familiar with water and they are not natural swimmers.
Wild hamsters will only swim if it falls into water accidentally while escaping form a predator. They are physically able to swim, but only do so as a form of survival. Being in a situation where they must swim is very stressful to a hamster. Similarly, a domestic hamster will only swim if its owner puts it into water, leaving it no option but to swim.
The Effects of Water on Hamsters
As water is not a natural habitat for hamsters, it is potentially harmful to them. There are three main problems that water and swimming can cause for these animals. The first is that swimming causes them stress. In turn, this can lead to a weakened immune system and they are then at risk of catching diseases.
The second issue is that if the water is too cold or the master stays wet for a while, there is the risk of the developing pneumonia and this is a potentially lethal condition. Finally, immersion in water can remove oils from the hamster’s fur that it needs to keep their fur and skin healthy. Hamsters do not need any water for cleaning, so you should not immerse them in water to help them clean. Your hamster will take of its own hygiene.
Is It Cruel to Make Your Hamster Swim?
Sadly, many people find it entertaining to watch a hamster try to swim and some people have even posted videos of their pet hamster trying to swim online. This is extremely cruel, and people should not encourage this form of poor entertainment. Swimming is a very stressful experience for hamsters and can potentially make them ill. For these reasons, you should never force a hamster into a situation where they need to swim.
Although hamsters have the physical ability to swim, they will only do this in a survival situation. They do not swim in the wild due to their dry natural habitat. As forcing a hamster to swim can potentially cause them distress and physical harm, you should never put a hamster in water or make them swim.