Do Hamsters Smell?

Girl holding a hamster in her hand and sniffing on it

A small pet like a mouse, rat, or hamster is often the first pet a child will own that is all their own. There is so much to love about these little creatures, and if cared for correctly, they can form long, loving bonds with their owners. 

Another upside to small pets like hamsters is that they don’t require free rein of the entire home like a cat or dog. Hamsters are often perfectly content in cages large enough to sit on top of a bedroom dresser. 

Unfortunately, one question might be the deciding factor on whether a hamster is the right pet for you or not: Do hamsters smell?

No, hamsters themselves don’t smell, which means their bodies don’t emit a foul odor. Female hamsters can have stronger smelling urine when they are in heat. A hamster’s enclosure can also smell bad if it isn’t maintained correctly.

Whether hamsters smell is complicated because it’s hard to know how quickly a hamster cage will become smelly and what can be done to stop the stink. In this article, we’ll look into the smelliness of hamsters and what you can do to prevent it. 

Do Hamsters Smell?

One big fear many people have about owning small pets is their smell. There are many reasons hamsters’ living space can smell bad, but very little of it has to do with the hamster itself.

When some people buy a pet like a hamster, they assume it will be less work than a larger pet, like a cat or a dog, just because of its size. In reality, a hamster requires its own unique type of care, including frequent cage cleanings to cut down on awful smells. 

Almost all pets can get stinky under the right circumstances. For example, dogs can smell quite a bit on their own, and even more so if their fur gets wet. A cat’s litter box can become disgusting in a record amount of time. But what about hamsters? 

A hamster and its enclosure can smell bad if it isn’t kept clean, but on their own, hamsters don’t emit any smell. If you hold a hamster living in a clean enclosure, you won’t smell anything on the small rodent.

Hamsters have scent glands, and when first introduced to their enclosure, they may use them to mark their territory, but this isn’t a regular occurrence, and the smell isn’t very offensive. A hamster’s scent from their scent gland has been described as “musky.”

If you notice a foul odor coming from the area of your hamster’s cage, it’s almost certain that it’s the cage making everything reek. There are small pets that stink no matter what, like ferrets. Hamsters don’t fall under this category. They are clean animals that groom themselves regularly. 

Enclosures begin to stink when the urine and feces of the hamster start to accumulate in large amounts, which is why regular cleaning is so important. A dirty cage doesn’t just annoy you, but it can also be stressful for your hamster. 

The only exception to this is female hamsters in heat. When in heat, a female hamster’s urine will have a slightly stronger smell, but as long as regular cage maintenance is maintained, this shouldn’t become a significant issue. 

The number 1 way to avoid hamster smell is to clean their cage diligently, once a week for bedding and daily for soiled bedding or litter. 

How Smelly Do Hamsters Get?

Hamsters only smell as bad as their enclosure, so a clean hamster and hamster enclosure won’t be smelly at all, but a dirty hamster and hamster enclosure will smell worse the longer it goes between cleanings. 

Hamsters and their cages can range from having almost no smell at all to smelling absolutely disgusting in a relatively short amount of time. This is because hamsters urinate and defecate in their enclosures multiple times a day, and these stinky excretions build up. 

Hamsters can be trained to use a litter box, which can cut down on the smell, but there is nothing that will work as a substitution for regular cleanings. 

Do Hamsters Stink up Your Room?

A dirty hamster cage can stink up a room easily, especially if there is little to no ventilation. Hamsters are best kept in areas with no breeze or airflow, so their unpleasant smells have no way to dissipate. 

If you don’t want your hamster to stink up your room, you need to take steps to eliminate smells before they even start. Using high-quality bedding, feeding your hamster good food, and removing soiled bedding daily can help a stinky cage. 

How Do I Make My Hamster Not Stink?

Now that we know a clean enclosure is the key to a nice smelling hamster, we can look at some ways to keep the enclosure clean at all times and any other tips to make your hamster not reek.

Here are some ways to make your hamster not stink:

  • Change bedding weekly 
  • Remove soiled bedding or litter daily 
  • Introduce a litter box to keep excrement localized to one place in the cage for an easy cleanup
  • When cleaning the enclosure, don’t neglect other areas of the cage that can get dirty. Along with the cage itself, make sure you clean food bowls, water bottles, toys, and tunnels. 
  • Give your hamster a dust bath area so they can bathe themselves
  • Once a month, take everything out of your hamster’s enclosure and deep clean it

Do Hamsters Smell When They Die?

No hamster owner wants to think about when their hamster will die. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know how to tell if your hamster is dead since these little rodents will occasionally hibernate. 

One thing that can signify hamster death is the smell. If a hamster is dead, it will start to smell terribly within three days. A dead hamster can start to smell sooner if the area of its enclosure is hot. 

Dead hamsters will smell different from any other smell that comes from a living hamster. If the hamster smells like rotting flesh at the three-day mark, it is absolutely dead. 

If your hamster dies, remove it from its enclosure right away, especially if you want to reuse the enclosure for another hamster or pet. Enclosures that housed dead hamsters must be emptied completely, scrubbed clean, and sanitized. 

Never reuse bedding, food, or water from a dead hamster’s cage with a new hamster. While hamsters can and often do die of old age, there is a chance some sort of sickness was to blame for their untimely death. To avoid the same fate for the new hamster, always get rid of anything disposable in the cage.

Do Female Hamsters Smell More Than Males?

Yes, female hamsters smell more than males, but only during ovulation or when they are in heat. 

Ovulating, or being in heat, is what it’s called when a female hamster is ready to mate. During this time, the female hamster will have stronger smelling urine and discharge, which can be quite strong. 

During a heat cycle, it’s even more important to keep litter boxes and bedding clean of any urine. 

Do Hamsters Smell as Bad as Mice?

Mice often smell much worse than hamsters, especially male mice, which give off their own scent as well as have smelly enclosures. 

With hamsters, a clean cage can make all the difference. For mice, enclosure cleaning is also crucial, but male mice will have a musky scent on their own even when their cages are completely clean. 

These smells are natural but can be unpleasant, especially if you have multiple male mice. 

Why Does My Hamster Smell Like Fish?

A hamster can smell like fish for 1 of 2 reasons: female hamsters in heat can sometimes smell fishy, or infections can also cause hamsters to smell like fish. 

A female hamster in heat with a slightly fishy odor is nothing to worry about, but if it’s a male hamster you have, or if the smell sticks around for an exceptionally long time, the reason might be more serious. 

Infections can be deadly to hamsters, and one way to tell if your hamster has one is the way the smell. Infection smells bad and sometimes fishy. If you’re concerned about your hamster having some sort of infection, consult a veterinarian right away. 

Final Thoughts 

Hamsters are great pets for beginners and seasoned professionals alike, but many people are hesitant to own these adorable creatures because of their potential stench. 

Luckily, hamsters don’t smell, and as long as their enclosures are kept clean, there shouldn’t be any unpleasant smells from there, either. 

Cleaning a hamster enclosure isn’t something to be pushed off until later, and the smell from a dirty cage is upsetting for hamsters and owners alike. 

Keep your hamster’s enclosure clean, and you’ll have a pleasant miniature pet without any stinky surprises!

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