If the smell of your pet hamster's urine is the first thing you notice when you enter the room you keep him in, chances are you need to change how you are taking care of your pet. Hamsters are not smelly animals -- they're super-clean -- but their cages can develop a serious odor problem if you aren't taking measures to keep bad smells at bay.
Normal Urine Odors
Urinating is one of your hamster's way of removing waste from his body. Urine is a sterile fluid that primarily contains water along with various salts, minerals, toxins, sugars and various compounds. The odor of hamster urine is typically weak, but the smell becomes more noticeable depending on what your hamster has been consuming, whether he is suffering from medical problems and whether you clean his cage as you should. A faint ammonia smell is not uncommon.
Basic Cage Hygiene
Removing all soiled bedding, food and feces from your hamster's cage once a day will significantly reduce the chance of foul odors developing from your hamster's urine. Urine never smells pleasant, but it will smell a lot worse if mold grows in bedding that has been urinated on. In addition to conducting daily cage cleanings, you should also make a point of emptying your hamster's cage completely each week and replacing all his bedding with fresh material. Sterilize toys, food dishes, water bottles and the cage itself, wiping them down with a pet-safe disinfectant cleaning solution.
Your choice of bedding can have a significant affect on how you perceive the smell of your hamster's urine. Highly absorbent, scented paper bedding is typically better at masking odors than wood chips or corn cob alternatives. The amount of bedding you use is important -- inadequate amounts of bedding will not be able to absorb the urine, and liquid will be left behind and cause an unpleasant odor.
Some foods can cause your hamster's urine output to smell worse than it should. If you notice your hamster's cage seems particularly strong-smelling after feeding certain foodstuffs or after you have made a change to his diet, work to determine the cause by eliminating specific items from his menu individually to systematically rule out possibilities. Also, experiment with different grains. Feeding your hamster vitamin supplements can affect the pet's urine odor and color.
Health problems can cause your hamster's urine to develop an odor that's stronger than it should be. Bladder and kidney infections can cause your hamster's urine to smell bad and be discolored. If your hamster's urine suddenly takes on a strong odor with no change in your cage hygiene or his diet, take him to the veterinarian immediately to see if a medical cause is behind the smell.
- Hammys World: Basic Cage Hygiene
- The Pet Advantage: Hamsters
- Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital: Hamsters Basic Care
- Small Animal Channel: Cleaning a Hamster Cage
- Pet Info Packets: Hamster Info Packet
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Hamster Care
- Hamsterific: Illness Guide
- Mayo Clinic: Urine Odor
- Urine Colors: Urine Facts
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.