Some pets have it lucky when it comes to water. They get a bowl plopped down in front of them and they start wetting their throats. Hamsters don't get a bowl; they have to deal with finicky bottles with their ball bearings, stems and vacuum action. If the bottle's not filled properly, your hamster's bedding will get soaked or the opposite will happen and your hamster won't be able to get water to come out.
Choose a hamster-size water bottle. Make sure the bottle is specifically for hamsters and not for larger animals. Bowls and dishes are on the list of prohibited drinking containers for hamsters: Although your little critter will drink from them, he will also create a watery mess in his tank. Better to opt for the bottle, although you may have to deal with leaks occasionally.
Remove the cap from your new bottle and submerge both the bottle and the cap in hot water for about two minutes. After the bottle's short date with steamy water, empty it and fill it with fresh, cold water all the way to the top. If you don't fill it to the top, a vacuum may not form inside the bottle, which will lead to lots of water dripping out of the sipper.
Run your finger over the ball bearing, if the bottle has one, holding the bottle so the stem is down. Make sure water comes out when you do. If no water comes out, the vacuum may be too strong. Force the ball further into the sipper by pushing on it with your finger or a cotton swab, then allow it to drop back down. Run your finger over it again to ensure the water easily comes out. If the bottle has what looks like a thin stem inside the sipper, push the stem side-to-side to release the water.
Choose a spot in the cage where the bottle won't receive sunlight. Although you shouldn't position your hamster's cage in an area that receives direct sunlight, indirect light may still reach certain parts of the cage. If light penetrates the bottle, you'll notice algae form. Algae isn't deadly to your little friend, but it does make for more frequent cleaning.
Place the bottle in your hamster's enclosure. A metal ring with two clips likely came with the bottle. The bottle sits inside the ring and the clips attach onto a cage. If your hamster's home is something other than a cage, attachment options include suction cups designed for critter water bottles, duct tape, fabric fastener or even string. If you use string, make sure it's tight to the bottle and up high to prevent your hamster from chewing on it.
Keep an eye on your hamster. If he can't suck down any water, he'll start biting the tip of the sipper. If the bottle has a stem, your hamster may not understand how the darn thing works. To help him, place a tiny dab of honey on the stem. He'll lick it, push it to the side and voila, he'll have his water and learn something new at the same time. If you're dealing with a ball bearing, remove the bottle from the enclosure, dump it out in your sink and fill it about three-quarters full. Most bottles won't create such a strong vacuum that your hamster can't release the water -- especially if you've already tested it to make sure the water releases without a problem -- but some do. Reducing water volume reduces pressure and lessens the vacuum strength. Reducing it too much causes leaking.
- If your hamster chews on the bottle itself, attach it to the outside of the cage so only the sipper fits inside the enclosure.
- If the vacuum inside the bottle isn't strong enough and water leaks out, squeeze the sides gently until water comes out, and stop. That should fix the problem.
- Refill your hamster's water every day and clean the bottle once weekly.
- If you don't want to attach the bottle to your hamster's cage, look for a block designed to hold critter water bottles. The block fits inside your hamster's cage and has a hole in the top to secure the bottle. The sipper hangs down inside the front opening of the block.
- Always make sure your hamster can drink from the bottle each time you place it into his cage. If your hamster can't drink water, he can become extremely sick in just one day.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.