Do Pet Hamsters Need a Heat Lamp?

A hamster is one of the most common pets in the USA. Due to its relatively easier care routine and low-cost lifestyle, a hamster is usually the first pet a parent allows their kids to have.

Unlike a pet dog or cat that requires a lot of physical activity, attention, and care, a pet hamster is often fine living by itself.

Due to its solitary nature, all your pet hamster needs from you is a cage that feels safe and secure, cozy bedding, and proper nutrition.

However, pet owners sometimes do not understand their small rodent’s unique needs and end up distressing their pet hamster by changing their location.

Although a pet hamster does not like the cold, it usually is fine living in normal room temperatures.

However, if a pet owner attempts to introduce a heat lamp into their hamster’s cage, they might negatively affect the hamster’s health and well-being.

Hence, before you bring a hamster into your home, it is important to be well aware of its unique needs and temperature requirements if you wish to give your small rodent a healthy and happy life.

Keep reading to learn more about when people usually add heat lamps to their hamster’s cages and how excessive heat affects the hamster’s emotional and physical well-being.

Moreover, the article also sheds light on when a heat lamp is helpful for a pet hamster and other ways a pet owner can keep their pet hamster warm and comfy.

Let’s get started!

When do People Usually Add Heat Lamps to their Pet Hamster’s Cage?

If you have ever had the opportunity to experience the companionship of a pet hamster, you probably know just how wholesome, warm, and comforting that relationship can be.

A hamster may not express its love the way most other pets do; however, its gentle cuddles and affectionate touch are enough to win anyone over.

Hence, when people have hamsters as their pets, they are usually very motivated to offer them the best possible lifestyle. However, at times, this good intention can do the hamster more harm than good.

For instance, if a pet owner introduces a heat lamp into their hamster’s cage, even when it is not required, they will unknowingly be causing a lot of discomfort and distress to their furry friend.

However, why do people add heat lamps to their hamster’s cage in the first place?

Some possible reasons are as follows:

  • When the hamster seems a little less physically active than usual, people assume that it might be too cold without having its physical health checked by a doctor.
  • This may cause them to introduce a heat lamp to the hamster’s cage to help their pet hamster feel warmer.
  • If the hamster’s lethargy is due to sickness and has nothing to do with its body temperature, the heat of the lamp might further worsen the rodent’s health.
  • However, even if the inactivity is due to the colder surroundings, a lamp’s direct heat might still be too hot and bothersome for a small hamster.
  • As a result, it might cause the hamster to either move around in distress or may even cause it to hyperventilate and pass out.
  • Moreover, another reason why people introduce heat lamps to their pet hamster’s cage is when they are feeling cold.
  • This can happen during winter or when the air conditioner’s temperature has been set too low.
  • However, although the hamster might enjoy some additional warmth to keep it cozy, the direct heat of a lamp might be too much.

How Does a Heat Lamp Affect a Pet Hamster’s Emotional and Physical Well-being?

In general, hamsters are far more sensitive to their external environments than cats or dogs. This is why keeping a hamster alive for too long is usually quite challenging.

From loud noises to sudden unexpected movements, any potentially threatening or unexpected stimulus can cause a hamster to experience severe anxiety and stress.

If it gets too much, they can even have a heart attack, which will result in the hamster dying.

Hence, if the pet hamster’s body and external temperature does not need the intense heat of a lamp, its unwelcome introduction can severely affect the hamster’s health.

Some of the ways a heat lamp can affect a hamster’s emotional and physical well-being are as follows:

  • Generally, a hamster is most comfortable in the 65 to 75°F temperature range. If the heat lamp causes the hamster’s environment to get hotter than 75°F, it may react severely to the external change.
  • For instance, the heat may cause the hamster to scurry around in circles due to the overwhelming distress. This will further increase the rodent’s body temperature, making the situation worse.
  • Moreover, the heat might cause the water from the hamster’s bowl to evaporate. Without any water available, the hamster will have no way to bring down its internal body temperature.
  • Since a hamster’s natural instinct provokes it to dig into the ground in an attempt to escape an uncomfortable environment, the pet hamster might react by digging up its bedding.
  • A hamster can successfully bring its body temperature down in the wild by digging a hole in the ground. Since the ground is usually cooler and wetter from the inside, resting in the hole can cool down the hamster’s body.
  • However, a pet hamster living in captivity doesn’t have a hole to dig into.
  • Hence, its unsuccessful attempts at digging up its bedding may cause even more emotional stress.
  • Furthermore, if the lamp’s heat causes the hamster’s temperature to cross 80°F, the intense heat can result in the hamster passing out from a heat stroke.
  • If the pet hamster is not provided immediate medical attention, it can die quite easily.

Hence, a heat lamp is usually not the answer to a pet hamster’s inactivity and cold environments. However, in certain rare cases, a lamp’s heat can be useful for a hamster’s well-being.

Keep reading to learn more.

When Can a Heat Lamp be Helpful for a Pet Hamster?

In general, a hamster does not need a heat lamp to survive. However, at times a heat lamp that is not too powerful or hot can be beneficial for the hamster’s health.

For instance, if the external weather conditions drop below 50°F, the hamster could be forced to go into hibernation mode.

A wild hamster usually hibernates in a hole dug deep into the ground. As such, it is able to maintain its body’s temperature and warmth.

However, since a pet hamster has no place to preserve its body heat during hibernation, it will end up hibernating in its cage.

Due to unavoidable exposure to the external cold, a hamster’s body temperature may drop dangerously low. If no form of heat is provided, the hamster could freeze to its death.

Hence, a heat lamp could help keep the hamster’s surroundings comfortably warm and cozy in such situations.

However, the heat lamp’s temperature must be adjusted to ensure that the hamster can hibernate without getting disturbed by the excessively hot surroundings.

Moreover, another possible situation that may require a heat lamp is when a hamster plays dead. Usually, when a hamster is exposed to a sudden, threatening stimulus, it might react by playing dead.

Although most hamsters can recover from this intense reaction on their own, at times, a hamster cannot snap out of this state of stillness.

When this happens, the hamster’s owner is advised to use a heat lamp to slightly warm up the hamster’s body and surroundings. Usually, this tip helps the hamster wake up and act normal again.

How Else Can a Hamster Owner Add Warmth to their Pet Hamster’s Cage?

If you are worried about the external weather conditions getting too cold for your pet hamster, you can always add warmth and comfort to the hamster’s surroundings without introducing a heat lamp.

Instead, you can try the following other options:

  • Turn on your room’s heater to keep the internal temperature of your room warm and cozy enough for the hamster.
  • Place a thick yet breathable fabric over the hamster’s cage to prevent any cold air from creeping in.
  • Place a silicone hot water bottle in your hamster’s cage.
  • Add some extra bedding or a cozy blanket into your hamster’s cage.
  • Offer the hamster some nuts and seeds to help it stay energized during winter.
  • Since nuts and seeds have a lot of nutritional oils and fats, their frequent consumption can help the hamster store some blubber under its skin.
  • This will help the hamster maintain its body temperature even when the weather gets colder.

Final Thoughts

If the living conditions of your pet hamster are too cold, the small rodent might reduce its physical activities, triggering a false hibernation.

However, the intense direct heat from the lamp can cause the hamster to experience a deadly heatstroke. Hence, the best idea is to add a blanket, a hot water bottle, or some oily nuts to your hamster’s cage to offer it the warmth and nutrition it needs to survive the cold season.

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