Darkness is what feeds your hamster’s soul and body. It reconnects them to their wild side and helps them determine when it’s time to be up and active. Now you may be wondering, should I cover my hamster’s cage during the day if that is the case? There’s more to the answer than a simple “yes” or “no.” Keep reading to find out.
Do Hamsters Stay Up All Night?
You already know the deal if you’ve spent a considerable chunk of your time with a hamster in the house. Your hamster likes to stay up all night and sleep all day.
However, it isn’t as simple as a matter of liking a particular routine. Your hamster isn’t a spoiled brat demanding an odd routine out of the blue.
It has been wired to wake up in the dark and sleep during the day. It is mainly because of the threat of predators lurking around. Hence, don’t be too surprised if you see them running on wheels while you’re struggling to sleep or dozing off right when you leave for work.
In short, this is what it means to be nocturnal.
Read: Why Is My Hamster Trying To Escape?
Covering a Hamster’s Cage
Is it necessary to cover a hamster’s cage during the day? While hamsters thrive in darkness, they don’t need it to fall asleep.
Nonetheless, keeping them away from bright lights is recommended but covering their cage isn’t.
However, there are circumstances where they can benefit from these covers. For instance, moving to a new house, traveling with them, or going to a veterinary clinic can be nerve-racking for a hamster.
It may even cause them to panic. This is where a lightweight cage cover comes in. It helps calm them down and make them feel relaxed while ensuring adequate air circulation.
Dangers of Covering a Hamster’s Cage
Hamsters don’t respond well to changes in their environment, especially those that are sudden. From temperature to light, every condition inside the house needs to stay consistent, or your furry buddy may panic.
This is where the dangers of covering a hamster’s cage come in. Excessive humidity, along with activity, can exhaust them fairly quickly. In fact, overstrained hamsters can also get sick if they are forced to adopt a different routine.
Stress is the most significant hazard to your tiny friend’s health. Furthermore, the lack of ventilation in a humid environment can also cause dehydration. The more accumulated dirt they breathe in, the greater the chances of respiratory issues.
Don’t forget that hamsters will chew or attempt to eat anything that comes their way. This also includes toys and the blanket you use to cover their cage.
They are also likely to urinate on the material, which can be even more fatal. Hence, the cons certainly outweigh the pros when it comes to covering their cage.
Will It Help Them Fall Asleep?
No. Hamsters do not need darkness to fall asleep. Giving them more darkness than required can cause them to fall sick. Here’s why.
Darkness is an indicator for them to wake up and be active. However, since they’ve already been quite busy the previous night, the unnecessary change in their schedule can cause extreme confusion within them.
Getting too much or too little sleep is hazardous to anyone’s health, and your hamster is not an exception to the rule. Let them take rest and do not meddle with their routine too much.
As a pet owner, your job is to elevate their comfort and not force them to adjust to your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. Sufficient rest is the key to a happy and healthy hamster.
Read: Why Does My Hamster Poop So Much?
How Do Hamsters React to Sunlight?
Now that we know that covering a hamster’s cage is unnecessary, let’s address the elephant in the room. What about sunlight? Do they need it? How do they react to it?
The gist of the argument is no, they don’t need sunlight, but taking every source of light away from them is also unhealthy. It’s true that most nocturnal animals, like hamsters, are sensitive to bright lights.
Putting them in direct sunlight is undoubtedly hazardous to their health. Their eyes are too weak to handle it, and their bodies cannot take the impact.
However, keeping them in complete darkness at all times is also not recommended. As long as there is some natural light around them, hamsters feel at ease.
They know it’s time for them to sleep. It’s the only way they determine the difference between day and night.
Why Is Natural Light a Necessity?
In short, a hamster’s mind is wired to look for natural light when it needs rest. It’s a sign that they must hide and protect themselves from predators.
Since they’re most active during dusk and dawn, that’s when they choose to exercise and eat. The key to ensuring that they follow their routine consistently is allowing natural light to come in but not in excess.
It’s important to note that there’s a crucial difference between natural and direct sunlight. The latter can elevate humidity in a room. The former entails that your hamster’s cage is at a safe distance from raw, bright sunlight.
Hamsters exercise their vision best in low light conditions. It is ideal to allow them to rest and burrow into their bedding during the day.
Can You Use Artificial Lighting Instead of Natural Lighting?
Here’s the deal with artificial lighting. It will significantly disrupt your furry friend’s sleep cycle. This is because their natural clock aligns well with natural light. With artificial lighting, people are not able to keep track of time. What if you expose them to light when it isn’t needed?
Your hamster’s stress levels can elevate to dangerous levels, causing other harmful changes inside their bodies. Their sensitive organs may not be able to deal with the stress and may even give up, bringing your little one on the verge of death.
The stated changes can also make them more aggressive. In extreme cases, prolonged exposure to bright lights can kill your hamster. That said, the right balance of light and darkness is required to keep them afloat.
How Do Hamsters React to Darkness?
Now that we know the deal with sunlight, we must break another myth. No, hamsters do not prefer pitch, black darkness either.
While this may come as a surprise to many, hamsters cannot see in the dark. Their night vision isn’t that strong.
Extreme darkness can cause several accidents if your pet is actively running around.
Why Do They See Better At Night?
Hamsters are accustomed to living in the wild. They are prey animals but are also extremely scared of certain animals.
Some of them include foxes, birds, and snakes. To avoid getting noticed, they prefer spending their day in the burrows.
This is why their eyes have evolved significantly over time. They have trained themselves to lead a considerable chunk of their lives at night.
Read: My Hamster Has a Tumor: How Long Until She Dies?
Are Some Hamsters More Active During the Day?
It’s imperative to note that no two breeds of hamsters are alike. For instance, Roborovski hamsters are much more active during the day than any other species of hamsters.
Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, are strictly nocturnal. They won’t dare stay active during the day.
To Cover Or Not to Cover Their Cages?
If you’re still wondering, “Should I cover my hamster’s cage during the day?” here’s the gist of the argument for you. It is unnecessary to cover their cage at any time of the day.
Hamsters need proper lighting conditions and ventilation to stay healthy. If you try to alter their routine too much by making them more active during the day but sleepy at night, you may end up harming them.
Hamsters get tired pretty quickly. The exhaustion paired with a lack of sleep and disturbances in food intake can make them sick.
All in all, avoid covering your hamster’s cage. Not only will it meddle with their natural sleep cycle, but it will also disrupt their ventilation. Darkness during the day can also confuse them. They won’t know whether to sleep or stay awake, and they won’t be able to direct their bodies accordingly.
Understand that you cannot force your hamster to adjust to your routine. It is you who must adapt to theirs. Before you get a pet hamster, make sure to understand what they need to survive. These animals have learned to survive in the wild for years, if not centuries.
They have adjusted their bodies to survive in certain temperatures, lighting conditions, and surroundings. This means your job doesn’t end just by bringing a hamster home. These tiny, nocturnal beings are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment.
Coming home from a pet shop is a stress-inducing ride in itself. On top of it, if you expose them to sudden changes in their routine, you’ll see them getting sick way before they should.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more