Hamster behavior can be odd, intriguing, and sometimes downright gross. Many habits a hamster has comes from its instincts or how it behaved in the wild. Have you noticed your hamster peeing or pooping in their wheel?
This behavior is one on the more messy side of things, but not uncommon. We have thoroughly researched this topic to explain why your hamster may be peeing or pooping in its wheel and answer if this is normal behavior.
A hamster pooping or peeing in its wheel is not unheard of - but why do they do it? Hamsters will pee or poop on their wheels to mark their territory in some cases. They are claiming the wheel as their own and want everyone to know it. Other hamsters soil their wheels because it is comfortable for them or habitual. The other possibility is that your hamster is experiencing fear while on the wheel.
As cute as our hammies are, we have to remember they are still animals and can have some dirty habits. We will take a closer look at the reasons why your hamster is soiling its wheel. Keep reading as we discuss how you can get your hamster to stop using its wheel as a toilet and how you should clean a dirty wheel.
Why Does My Hamster Pee or Poop In Its Wheel?
Our hamsters are generally clean animals. You can catch them grooming often and shying away from dirty areas of their cage. This does not mean they are without gross habits, like utilizing their wheel as a toilet. There is typically an explanation behind hammie habits. Let's take a closer look.
Like many other species, hamsters use their urine to mark their territory. Chances are, your hamster appreciates their wheel and wants everyone to know it is theirs. Leaving their brand on objects is a behavior our pets have from their wild ancestors. The urine marks the wheel and leaves a familiar smell that may be comforting to your furry friend.
Washing the wheel too often may actually cause your hamster to urinate in this area more. If they are marking territory, they do their best to ensure their scent does not fade.
Habit or preferred spot
Hamsters can be creatures of habit. They tend to find their favorite spots and stick to them for sleeping, hiding food, and using the bathroom. With some hammies, they choose their wheel as their preferred spot to use the bathroom. This can be due to the texture of the wheel, the part of the cage it is in, or simply habit.
If your hamster gets spooked while on its wheel, it may pee or poop. Something like a loud noise, fast movement outside the cage, or a change in the cage can scare your pet. This abrupt scare can cause them to urinate or defecate.
Do Hamsters Poop When They Are Scared?
Hamsters do poop when they are scared. Pooping in response to being frightened or nervous is a normal response for a hamster. This response can be a reaction to a temporary stressor in your hammie's environment or as they are getting used to new surroundings and people.
Stress pooping should not be of concern unless you see other indications that your hamster is experiencing chronic stress. Some indications of chronic stress include hair loss, muscle rigidity, and signs of aggression.
Read more on our blog post, How Often Do Hamsters Poop?
Do Hamsters Pee When They Are Scared?
Just like nervous defecation, hamsters will sometimes urinate if they are startled or scared. Hamsters who feel threatened will release urine as a response. This is normal and typically should not bring up concern. Some signs that your hamster was startled, along with the release of urine, include flattening to the ground or attempting to run away.
Again, this is only an issue if you believe your hamster is enduring chronic stress. Watch for other signs of stress in your hammie and change its environment and lifestyle as needed.
Read more on our blog post, How To Help A Hamster Adjust To Their New Home.
Is It Normal For Hamsters To Poop In Their Wheel?
It can be normal for your hamster to poop in its wheel. If the poop you are finding looks like normal, formed stool, there shouldn't be a reason for concern. Marking territory, having habitual bathroom routines, and sometimes getting spooked are all normal occurrences for a hamster. On the other hand, if you come across runny stool or diarrhea in its wheel, this should be a concern.
If your hamster is suffering from an illness, it could be leaking diarrhea on its wheel. Keep an eye out for wet fur around the tail, lack of appetite, decreases in energy, or any other major change in behavior. When health is a concern, the best thing to do is consult with your veterinarian or bring your furry friend in for a health check.
Read more on our blog post, 7 Hamster Health Issues Every Owner Needs To Know About.
How Do I Stop My Hamster From Pooping In The Wheel?
Having to clean a hamster wheel regularly due to poop can be tedious and a bit annoying. The better option is to get your hamster to stop pooping on its wheel. How can this be done? There are a handful of tricks you can try to persuade him to use the bathroom elsewhere.
Try removing the wheel from your hamster's home for a couple of days. Give the wheel a good wash in the meantime. The absence of the wheel encourages your hamster to find a new place to poop. In this time, he can break their habit of using the wheel as his go-to spot. He should find a spot that better suits them and you.
Did you know hamsters can be litter trained? This is another great option to getting your hamster to stop pooping in its wheel. Try placing a litter box intended for small animals in the same place the wheel sat. Using different substrates and pebbles, you can persuade your hammie to use their new box. Typically, potty training a hamster can be done in a few steps and little time, it is all about creating new habits.
The video below gives you tips and tricks on how to potty-train your hamster:
Read more on our blog post, How To Train A Hamster To Use The Litter Box.
How Do You Clean A Hamster Wheel?
If you exhausted your options and your hamster is still using its wheel as a toilet, it will be necessary to keep up with cleaning it. Routine wheel cleaning will need to be done to remove any build-up of poop and reduce the amount of urine to feet contact for your hamster.
To clean your hamster wheel, you can follow these steps:
- Remove the wheel from the cage and shake off any loose debris
- Soak or run the wheel under hot water
- Use a sponge or toothbrush to scrub the wheel with an antibacterial soap or disinfectant
- Rinse the wheel off well, ensuring all soap or disinfectant is washed away
- Set your wheel aside to dry completely before returning it to your hamster's home
Depending on what kind of wheel you have, it may come with a user manual or specific care instructions. If available, always check these guidelines first.
Read more on our blog post, 8 Awesome Hamster Cage Cleaning Tips.
Our hamsters can have some funky behaviors, but most have some explanation behind them. Pooping or peeing in the wheel can seem dirty and a bit strange. Fortunately, this is normal behavior in the majority of cases.
This behavior is typically not concerning, just annoying and can be changed. If you can't break your hamster's habit of utilizing its wheel as a bathroom, it is important to keep up with cleaning regularly. We hope you found some helpful information in this article and maybe even some inspiration to potty-train your hammie.
Looking to read more into hamster behavior? Have a look at our blog post, My Hamster Doesn't Like Chew Toys - What To Do?