Hamsters are one of the most popular caged animals. If you are a hamster owner or plan on becoming one, it’s vital to research these exciting creatures. Many hamster owners often wonder why their hamster sleeps extensively during the day. They often worry whether the hamster is feeling well.
The reason is that hamsters are nocturnal by nature. They prefer sleeping during the day and are most energetic at night. Hamsters don’t sleep at a stretch during the day but break down their sleep into intervals.
They wake up, eat, explore a little, and then fall asleep. At night, they are attentive and love indulging in physical exercise.
In this article, let’s examine a hamster’s routine in detail and discuss how many hours hamsters sleep.
How Long Do Hamsters Sleep in a Day?
Hamsters usually sleep for 12 to 14 hours throughout the day. They have polyphasic sleep-wake patterns; thus, their sleep is broken into little portions throughout the day.
However, these time durations are likely to vary. The exact number of hours hamsters sleep remains slightly ambiguous. Adult hamsters sometimes sleep for as little as 6 to 8 hours during the day, while baby hamsters can sleep for 9 to 15 hours.
Hamsters don’t sleep at a stretch; their sleep is usually divided into seven to nine segments. They will wake up, eat, run a little, do their business, and then go back to sleep. They are most alert and attentive at night and love exercising and playing around.
The Sleep Pattern of a Hamster
So if you are wondering when hamsters sleep, hamsters stay awake at night and sleep in the day. That’s why you will see an active hamster when it’s late and you are tired and want to sleep.
They are at their peak in physical activity, either during dawn or dusk. You will see them playing or running on their wheel when you want to rest.
Similarly, you will find it sleeping when you wake up and want to spend time with your hamster. You need to find an in-between time when your hamster is awake and you aren’t too tired to spend quality time together.
A great time to play with your hamster is during dusk because that’s when it is most energetic and active.
Should Long Hours of Sleep be Concerning?
Suppose your hamster is sleeping for long periods; it’s normal to be concerned. But as stated above, hamsters sleep during the day and are active at night. Since humans sleep at night, you might feel that your hamster is sleeping too.
But hamsters are most active during this time. Your hamster might be eating, running on its wheel, or with toys (if there are any in its cage).
But what if your hamster sleeps for long periods during the day and night? As a hamster owner, should you be concerned then?
There can be multiple reasons for such behavior. One reason could be that your hamster is gone into hibernation. When temperatures get low, hamsters tend to resort to hibernation. Perhaps it’s too cold for the hamster in its cage; hence it has hibernated.
If the temperature outside is below 50 degrees, it can get cold for a hamster. If the hamster is kept in a room and air from an air conditioner enters the cage directly, it can become hard for the hamster. This can push the hamster to go into hibernation mode.
But if your room temperature is moderate and your hamster is still sleeping for long periods, there is a chance it has fallen ill.
As a pet owner, keeping a close eye on your hamster and monitoring its sleep routine is vital. If your hamster is frequently sneezing, having diarrhea, or eating less, it’s best to visit the veterinary doctor.
The vet might examine the hamster and conduct a blood test or stool sample to analyze its condition.
Should You Wake Up Your Hamster When Asleep?
You mustn’t wake up your hamster while it’s sleeping. A hamster needs to complete its sleep to be active and healthy. If you want to play with your hamster, do so when it’s awake. Don’t wake a sleeping hamster because that can harm its health. This can stress out your hamster and can cause health problems.
A stressed hamster can develop health concerns as well as behavioral issues. If you keep waking your hamster while it sleeps, it can also lose its appetite and become lethargic.
The hamster will also likely become moody and affect your relationship with him. It can also shorten his lifespan if he constantly has disturbed sleep.
How to Wake Your Hamster?
Suppose you have to wake up your hamster while it sleeps, do so very gently so it doesn’t get frightened. Perhaps you need the hamster to be up so you can clean its cage or give it food. You can do this in multiple ways.
You can keep the hamster’s favorite treat close to its nose so it can smell the food and wake up. You can also shake a box of pellets so the sound can take the hamster out of its sleep.
You can also hum gently to your hamster so your soft voice can soothe it out of its sleep. The hamster should softly open its eyes to your voice. If you use a loud voice to wake your hamster, it can stress out the little pet. This will also make the hamster shy away from you.
Sometimes you can also blow gently on your hamster’s face to give its whiskers a tickling sensation. Another way to wake your hamster up stress-free is changing the room’s environment.
Even if you modify the temperature, it can easily wake up the little fellow. Usually, a higher temperature can take the hamster out of his sleep because they are more comfortable sleeping in colder temperatures.
Does Switching on the Light Wake Up Hamsters?
Hamsters are nightly animals, so they are automatically more active when the room is dark. Sometimes people put their hamsters’ cages in a dark room, thinking the hamster will rest better and fall asleep in the dark. It’s quite the opposite.
Hamsters sleep better when the light is switched on or during the daytime. This is due to their instincts. That’s why there is no reason for you to close the light if you want your hamster to sleep.
Hamsters are small-sized creatures with a lot of natural predators. Wild hamsters developed the instinct to become nocturnal to avoid being preyed upon. They could also easily find food at night and run to their heart’s content.
Today when hamsters are kept in cages, they retain their nocturnal instinct. Hence switching on the light while your hamster sleeps is quite alright. It should not bother your hamster at all.
What Not to Do When a Hamster Is Sleeping
You should not make loud noises or try and pick up a sleeping hamster. This will stress out the hamster and affect it negatively. Also, avoid abruptly picking up the hamster’s cage or shaking it. This will frighten the hamster beyond measure.
You should also not poke the hamster or make any fast movement toward it. This will make your hamster associate you with fear. It’s best to keep your hamster away from the hustle and bustle and clattering noises.
Keep your hamsters cage in a quiet place where it can sleep peacefully. If a hamster does not get enough hours of sleep, it can become anxious. It may also start linking you with danger if it gets too stressed or anxious.
As stated above, hamsters are nocturnal creatures. They developed this instinct to escape harm. High temperatures also tend to make hamsters uncomfortable. Nighttime is safer for hamsters and also much cooler. Therefore, hamsters are likelier to venture out into the open at night. Caged children are observed as more active, alert, and playful at night.
Hamsters prefer to come out and eat their food and run on their wheel, mostly after dusk. They might venture out of these sleeping spaces in the daytime too when caged but only for a short period. They will eat, play on their wheel for a few minutes and then go back and sleep.
This is because they sleep in intervals during the day. But hamsters will be most energetic at night. This is when they are on their wheel for hours at a stretch. It’s also a good idea to keep other toys in your hamster’s cage, apart from the wheel. This will give your hamster variety when playing.
It would help if you also tried spending time bonding with your hamster, especially after dusk. Taking your hamster out of its cage and letting it explore a limited space is also essential. This should be done for at least two hours every day.
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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