Do Hamsters Stink? 7 Ways to Combat Hamster Smell

Hamsters do not stink as strongly as pet mice, but they do have a specific smell.

Hamsters are often mistaken to be dirty, but they are meticulous self-groomers. The animal’s body is coated in protective oils, which is why it is not advisable to wash them in water. A sand bath will be enough to get off the grime on your pet’s coat.

It is hamster cages that you should worry about since it is where hamsters go to the bathroom. It helps to potty-train your hamster so that they go to the toilet in one area of the cage.

You can then spot clean this “bathroom” once a week. The sweat glands on these little creatures also release pheromones, which are used for communication in the wild.

Why does Your Hamsters Smell?

Sometimes you may notice a strong odor emanating from the hamster’s cage. This musky smell is usually as a result of their scent glands.

It might cause panic when you spot it for the first time. But the truth is scent glands are just perfectly normal because they form part of a female and male’s hamster anatomy.

Hamster scent glands differ greatly between males and females. They also vary a lot from one species to another. So this should not be a cause for alarm, especially when you encounter these little creatures for the first time.

These glands are commonly referred to as hip spots or flank glands. Hamsters use them (scent glands) to communicate among themselves. Their scent glands produce pheromones or chemicals secreted from their bodies. These chemicals are largely found in male hamsters than in females.

In certain species such as Syrian Hamsters, scent glands are strategically placed on both sides of their flanks. Such locations make it easy for the scent to spread far and wide.

In females, scent glands play a critical role. They help in territory marking in addition to attracting a potential partner. The scent informs the partners when female hamsters are about to be on heat or ready to mate.

However, it is prudent that you observe your hamster scent glands keenly for signs of infections or changes in their appearance. Should you notice anything unusual, then you must notify your veterinary officer for further clarification.

7 Ways to Reduce Hamster Small

Since no pet owner wants a house saturated with a strong musky scent, you can combat hamster smell in the following ways:

1. Don’t Keep Male Hamsters

There is a continuous debate about which is the smellier gender between male and female hamsters. Male hamsters tend to have a stronger and unique scent in contrast to females.

In the wild, male hamsters use their scents to establish territories, and you can sometimes see the greasy scent glands under their thighs. The male licks the scent glands when he is excited, and you should observe them for infections or redness.

This is not to say that females do not have a scent too. Female hamsters typically get smelly during their mating period as they use their scent to attract males. If you don’t want the musky male scent, you will be better off with a female.

2. Change Bedding Frequently

hamsters spend most of their time and around the bedding, and you should replace it frequently. Changing the bedding once a week should do the trick, as long as you spot clean the bathroom area during the week.

It helps if you didn’t replace the beddings too many times as hamsters get used to their scent. Some pet owners add a little bit of the old beddings back. You can also wash the cage accessories on rotation so that there is always something smelling like your hamster in their habitat.

Clean the cage thoroughly before adding the new shavings. Invest in highly-absorbent bedding that can last a week without getting too stinky.

3. Use Lavender Scented Bedding

Scented bedding can be excellent for odor control, as long as it is safe for hamsters. Lavender is popularly used to make soft and super-absorbent shavings for hamsters. The bedding will mask any smells coming from the hamster cage.

4. Use a Bigger Cage

Small and stuffy enclosures are typically smellier than larger setups. As a rule, you should keep hamsters in large cages that provide room to play.

In addition to having a bigger cage, you should allow for maximum ventilation to keep fresh air in circulation. Keep in mind that hamsters are escape artists, and you don’t want to leave openings where they can fit through.

5. Use Deep Bedding

Your first line of defense against hamster smells is bedding. The shavings in the cage will absorb your pet’s urine and droppings, which is why you should use a deep layer. Use 2-3 inches of pet-safe bedding like Aspen shavings or paper-based bedding.

6. Use a Pet-Safe Deodorizer

It is advisable to clean your hamster cage before deodorizing it. To start, relocate your pet to a safe space or place them in an exercise ball as you supervise. Remove all accessories in the cage and dump the bedding.

Use mild soap to wash off the dirt and debris from all areas of the enclosure. Some pet-friendly cleaners will also deodorize, but you can still buy a separate deodorizer. Rinse your hamster’s cage thoroughly as your pet will be bothered by strong foreign smells.

7. Put Baking Soda Under Bedding

Baking soda is a cheap way of keeping hamster odor at bay. Sprinkle a layer under the bedding, and it will help to absorb hamster smells.

Can You Put Vanilla Extract in Hamster Water?

Some pet owners add vanilla extract to a hamster’s water to reduce the odor of their urine. Some hamsters will, however, not like the flavor and will refuse to drink their water.

If you are going to add the extract, observe how your hamster reacts to it as you don’t want them to get dehydrated.

Is Corn Bob Bedding Safe for Hamsters?

Corn bob is sometimes used as hamster bedding because it reduces odors. This bedding will easily mold, however, if it gets wet and soggy.

There is also a chance that the corn bob will swell in your hamsters’ stomach if ingested.


Hamsters take care of their hygiene, but they release strong scents from their sweat glands. Males have a stronger scent, although females can also get stinky during their mating period.

You can combat hamster smell with deep bedding, deodorizers, and baking soda. Keep your pets in a large cage and change the bedding once a week.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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