Hamsters have made great pets for a long time now, but many people still don’t know how to treat hamsters properly. Most people think they’re nocturnal animals, so it’s confusing for them to see their hamsters active during the day. So, they might wonder how it’s possible.
Hamsters may wake up during the day to satisfy some of their needs, such as drinking water, nibbling on some food, and playing with other fellow hamsters or you. However, they may also wake up due to external interruptions such as noisy children and pets or other noise sources like a vacuum cleaner.
Keep reading the remainder of this article to learn more about hamsters’ sleeping habits and how to treat them properly. We’ll go through their natural behavior and then see what you can do to keep them in their natural pattern or break it.
Generally, most people think hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they’re active during the night and sleep during the day. However, that’s not precisely true.
According to the experts, they’re actually crepuscular animals which means they’re mostly asleep during the day and also a few hours at night. In their natural habitat, they leave their burrow before the sun goes down and come back just before the sun rises.
Interestingly, studies have shown that hamsters also enter the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep as we do. However, there’s no proof that they can dream like us in this phase or not.
Let’s see what they do throughout the day and night:
Hamsters sleep during the day, and that’s how they’re developed to behave. They’re small creatures and can be good prey for bigger predators in nature.
So, they’ve learned to sleep during the day and stay clear of dangerous predators during their evolution. So, if you see your hamster sleeping during the day, don’t worry. That’s in its nature.
You shouldn’t worry much if you see them up during the day. Most hamsters tend to get up a few times during the day to eat something, for example or drink water. They may also wake up for peeing or pooping because hamsters are clean animals and don’t like to have dirty bedding.
Aside from this, loud noises can disturb hamsters and wake them up during the day. Hamsters have pretty strong hearing, so they can easily wake up by sounds such as a vacuum cleaner, a TV, noisy children, or of other pets such as dogs or cats.
Meanwhile, if you have a good relationship with your hamster, it may change its natural sleeping cycle and adjust it with yours, so it can play and socialize more with you – this case is more likely to happen in dwarf hamsters as they’re more sociable.
During the night, they behave entirely differently. Most predators are sleeping, or if they’re not, they can’t see well at night, so it’s much safer to go out and search for food. However, it doesn’t mean they’re active throughout the night; instead, each hamster has its own activity time.
Some hamsters prefer dusk for their active time and getting around, while others favor dawn. If you’re wondering which one is more normal, you should know that they naturally start to become more active when the sun goes down. So, most pet hamsters are awake in the evening, and that’s when you can see their maximum activity.
However, these captive animals may develop a nocturnal pattern and follow that because their owners go to bed at night, and their environment gets dark and quiet. Hamsters are pretty flexible in their sleep cycle.
It might be pretty confusing for new hamster owners to see their pets sleeping the whole day. That’s why it’s crucial to learn more about their natural sleeping habits, so you won’t disturb your furry pet by waking them up to play with. So, how long do hamsters sleep?
Hamsters sleep between 6-14 hours a day, mainly depending on their age. While adult hamsters sleep about 6-8 hours, the younger ones can sleep around 10-14 hours during the day. However, these hours aren’t continuous and may be divided into a few parts. They may also nap during the night, too.
Hamsters sleep for long hours, especially if they’re young. Baby hamsters need a lot of sleep, just as human babies do. It’s a pretty demanding process to grow up and develop the necessary abilities, taking a great deal of energy from such feeble creatures; consequently, they get tired quickly, falling asleep faster and deeper than adult ones.
However, it doesn’t mean that adult hamsters are much more energetic creatures. They also tend to sleep for long hours during the day (up to 8 hours) and may wake up a few times between their sleeping hours – this is called the polyphasic sleep cycle.
Besides their age, other factors can affect the sleep pattern of hamsters. Let’s check them out.
Hamsters’ breed can play a role in their sleeping cycle. So, as a hamster owner, it’s crucial to learn what breed your pet is from by asking an expert.
Generally, dwarf hamsters enjoy a more flexible sleeping pattern compared to their Syrian cousins. If you wish to change their sleeping and waking routine, they’re more likely to be trained for sleeping on a different schedule.
On the other hand, Syrian hamsters prefer to sleep for longer stretches of time which helps them maintain their health. However, they’re highly sensitive about their sleep, and if you interrupt them while napping, they may get aggressive and bite you.
Just like us, hamsters require the right environment to sleep according to their natural cycle. They generally need a quiet place with low light conditions, away from any possible interruptions such as people or pets like a cat or a dog.
Remember to always keep the temperature around 65°F to 75°F (18.3°C to 23.9°C); colder temperatures can make them enter the hibernation phase – which can be dangerous and even lead to death in captive hamsters– and too much warmth can also damage their health – causing heatstroke.
If you live in a place such as New York that experiences very hot and humid weather in the summer months, make sure the room has air conditioning to prevent your hamster from overheating.
Don’t forget to make a cozy and clean bed for your hamster. In their natural habitat, hamsters hide in burrows, where they also sleep. So, it’s crucial to recreate such an environment for them to feel safe and stay warm.
Provide your hamster with something to hide in and give it a bunch of clean bedding material to make a comfortable bed for itself.
The last factor affecting the hamsters’ sleeping habits is their diet. How and what you feed your hamster can alter its sleep cycle the same way food affects our overall health.
A poor diet lacking the essential minerals and vitamins a hamster needs or getting dehydrated can negatively affect its sleep patterns, making it feel more fatigue and resting for more extended periods.
As a hamster owner, you should provide your fluffy pet with all the essential nutrients. Make sure its diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to hay and pellets. Ensure it can easily access clean and fresh water at all times.
Many hamster owners prefer their pets to sleep and wake up almost according to their sleeping patterns. However, as we said before, hamsters are crepuscular, so how’s it possible to change their sleep cycle?
You can change your hamster’s sleeping cycle by altering its environment and encouraging it to be more active during the day. For example, you can put your hamster’s cage in a well-lighted corner and encourage it to play more. However, always avoid quick and sudden changes in their sleeping habits.
Hamsters are pretty clever animals and adapt well to their new environment. If they know it’s safe to wake up during the day, and there’s also food to chew on, why not?
They’re not entirely nocturnal, and even in nature, they may be up in a few morning hours. If you want to alter your hamster’s sleeping habits to make it wake up during the day and play with your children, replace its cage and place it somewhere well-lit and warm.
Go slowly and make minor changes in your hamster’s sleeping habits; otherwise, he may become bad-tempered and sleep-deprived. Such a hamster may get easily scared and bite its owner; they have weak eyesight and excellent hearing, so any sudden sound may be considered a threat.
If you want to wake up your hamster, avoid loud and sudden noises. Approach your hamster slowly and try to wake it up by speaking softly to it; if it doesn’t work, try rubbing the cage bars to make some vibration.
Now, grab some food and shake it slightly to show you’re a friend, not a threat. This will help form a positive connection in its mind, so it will wake up easier and more eagerly in the future.
Encouraging your hamster to play and create a strong bond with you can also alter its sleeping cycle. If it knows you’re trustworthy and you provide it with food, your hamster will wake up more while you’re up, too.
On the other side, if you want to train your hamster to sleep during the night, you should provide the right sleeping environment they naturally prefer for a nighttime snooze. That means you should keep its cage somewhere with scheduled lighting and away from disturbances.
In other words, keep your hamster’s cage in a room where lights go off early and at a set time at night – ideally, nobody sleeps there. Turn off artificial light sources, especially if they’re white or blue, as they can lead to depression in your hamster.
To alter its sleeping schedule, you should also play with your hamster and feed it in the evening when it’s naturally more active. So, next time it will be more eager to wake up during the day and there’ll be no need to get up at night and search for food.
When you play with your hamster, you remind it that there’s nothing to be scared of. Never force your hamster to wake up but use its waking times during the day to strengthen your bond with it and give it something to look forward to.
However, if your hamster is already a night sleeper, you’re lucky. Captive hamsters are generally adjusted to their pet store schedule, which is usually a dark and quiet place at night and a bright, active place during the day.
If your hamster has lived at a pet store in a busy city like New York, it is possible that they have been kept awake during the day so are already used to this.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about your hamster’s sleeping schedule.
It’s pretty normal for a captive hamster to be active during the day as they can change their sleeping cycle due to environmental factors and the safety they lack in the wild at daylight. They may also wake up for food or other needs like using the potty.
If you find out your adult hamster sleeps more than normal, that could be a sign of disease or depression. Some nutritional problems like low blood sugar can also lead to oversleeping. Cold temperatures lower than 50°F (10°C) can also make it enter hibernation; in this case, it’s recommended to talk with a vet.
Covering your hamster’s cage won’t help it fall asleep as it’s naturally active at night. However, it’s generally a good idea to cover its cage during the day to sleep more deeply with low light and no disturbance. Always ensure your hamster receives enough fresh air, regardless of whether or not you decide to cover their cage.
Hamsters have unique sleep patterns, which we should respect. However, if you want them to be more active during the day, you can change it gradually. Don’t worry if you find your hamster awake during the day because they wake up a few times a day for various reasons.
Never force a hamster to stay awake, since this will harm its health and well-being. Always go easy on your hamster and treat it with respect.
You may like the following hamster articles:
- Can Hamsters Eat Guinea Pig Food?
- How Old Does a Hamster Need To Be To Eat Carrots?
- What Fruits Can Hamsters Eat
- Why Is My Hamster Not Eating?
- Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies
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