Water bottle or Water dish: Which is Best for your Hamster?

You should provide your pet hamster with fresh water every day. Hamsters are vulnerable to dehydration and will not survive for more than a day or two without water. Two ways to provide water for your hamster are with a water bottle that attaches to the side of their cage or a shallow water dish. While both are great options, each option has its pros and cons.

Hamster Water Bottle

Most hamster owners provide their pets with an inverted water bottle that only releases water when they drink from it. It should be attached to the side of the cage at a height that a hamster can drink from, at a natural angle, on two or four legs. However, if not positioned correctly, it can cause an awkward angle for hamsters to drink from.

If you have multiple hamsters in one cage, a water bottle is preferred so that you don’t have to constantly refill their water every time the water bowl gets tipped over.


  • Holds more water
  • Cleanliness – more sterile when properly maintained
  • Avoids spillage
  • Hamsters cannot tip it over
  • Better choice if you have multiple hamsters in the same cage
  • It cannot be polluted by bedding, leftover food, etc.


  • Hamsters can chew through the mouthpiece if it’s made of plastic (check the water bottle regularly for damage)
  • Can break, leading to leaks
  • Prone to clogging
  • Harder to clean

A water bottle that is not cleaned properly can cause just as much bacteria as a water bowl. Because water bottles are more difficult to clean, bacteria can build up. Owners may also be less likely to change water bottles as they can hold more water. This is not good as the water will not be fresh, allowing bacteria to build up. Water bottles can also get clogged, which can result in your hamster getting dehydrated. Therefore, you need to check that the water bottle is properly clean and working every time you change the water, which should be daily. As long as a water bottle is properly cleaned and working, it is a good option to provide water for your hamster.

Hamster Water Bowl

Another option is to provide your hamster with a water bowl. It should be a bit heavy and shallow so that your hamster is less likely to tip it over or get wet by walking through it. It should be smaller than your hamster in size and placed on a solid surface.


  • Easier to clean than water bottles
  • It limits bacteria build-up if cleaned regularly
  • Less noisy than a water bottle
  • More natural angle to drink from


  • Hamsters can tip water bowls over, depriving them of water
  • Water can get contaminated with dirt, bedding, leftover food, urine, or fecal matter
  • Hamsters can chew through plastic water bowls/dishes. Get a ceramic one instead.

It would be best if you cleaned your hamster’s water bowl every time you refresh the water. An advantage of changing the water more often in a water bowl is that the water is fresh, which is good for your hamster.

Final Thoughts

Hamster drinking water

Whether you provide your hamster water in a water bottle or a shallow dish (or both), it should be checked and refreshed daily, even if water remains. Water bottles can malfunction and leak, while hamsters can tip over water dishes. Water can also become contaminated if it is not changed regularly. Therefore, it is essential to provide your hamster with a continuous water supply to maintain its health and prevent dehydration.

Whatever option you choose, the characteristics to look for in a hamster water bottle or water bowl are:

  • large water capacity
  • easy to clean
  • high-quality materials

If your hamster is not drinking, you will need to take it to a veterinarian.