Hamsters make super adorable pets, and they’re so popular that the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that almost 887 households out of 1000 own a fluffy little hammie.
That means the internet is absolutely filled to the brim with queries about hamster habits. One popular question on the minds of hamster owners is:
What time do hamsters wake up? A large majority of hamsters are crepuscular; they are active during twilight hours, or dawn and dusk. However, this can vary from species to species and even among individual pets based on personality.
So, while your pet hamster’s cousins in the wild may like being active during low-light hours, your hammie may very well like staying up at night (nocturnal) or during daylight hours (diurnal).
If you’re looking for a complete breakdown of hamster habits concerning sleeping and activity, then you’ve certainly come to the right place. My hamster exposé covers everything from snoozing to waking, and everything in between!
How Much Sleep Does A Hamster Need?
If your hammie displays nocturnal tendencies, chances are you’ll be away when your pet is catching some Zzz’s. This has given rise to some pet parents questioning whether their hamsters even sleep at all.
But, before you start having visions of a sleep-deprived hammie wandering around its cage like a zombie, relax! Like all other living things, your pet hamster not only sleeps, but needs about a solid 6-8 hours of shut-eye to stay healthy.
Here’s the thing, though. Just because most vets recommend 6-8 hours of sleep for your hamster doesn’t mean your hamster will follow that rule strictly.
Hamster sleep cycles can vary based on a variety of factors. For instance, maybe your hamster is more active than others and likes to sleep less. Additionally, how much your hamster sleeps also depends on its breed and age.
For example, Syrian hamsters are generally housed alone, which means they have the cage all to themselves, and with nothing to disturb them, they can catch long naps. On the other hand, if you’re the proud owner of a pair of dwarf hamsters, it is possible that one’s sleep cycle may be affected by the other’s activity and noise.
However, if you notice your hammie’s more sluggish than usual or not eating as much, then it’s best to take it to a vet for a quick check-up. It may take you some time to figure out your hammie’s sleeping pattern, and that’s okay. Be sure to keep a close eye on its food intake and activity level to ensure your pet isn’t ill.
How Do Hamsters Generally Sleep?
If you’ve caught a hamster in the act of sleeping, you know there’s absolutely nothing as cute as a tiny, curled-up hammie snoozing away. But, being able to see your hammie sleep is a pretty rare sight.
Why is that, you ask? Well, most hamsters are talented burrowers and like sleeping out of sight. If your hamster cage has a covered enclosure, that’s probably where your hamster retreats to nap.
If the cage doesn’t have an enclosure, your hamster will create a comfy little hideout for itself – made from its bedding material, paper towels, cardboard, etc., whatever it can get its little hands on.
But, once the nest is complete, there’s no way you’re going to catch your hamster sleeping without doing a bit of digging of your own.
However, an excellent way to figure where your little buddy is burrowed without disturbing it is to look out for little twitches in the bedding material – caused by your pet moving in its sleep.
What Time Do Hamsters Go To Sleep?
The hammie community is a bit at odds with itself when answering what time hamsters like to sleep.
Some hamster parents swear their pet is diurnal and likes to nap for the majority of the night. Conversely, other hammie owners state they hear the pitter-patter of little hammie feet all night long. Then, of course, some hamsters take after their relatives in the wild and stay active during sunset and sunrise.
There’s no one right answer to the question. It all depends on the hamster. But, to make life easier for you, your hamster’s sleeping habits can fall into one of three categories:
If your pet is largely nocturnal, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever get to see your hamster awake during the mornings. It’s likely your hamster will wake from its nap once every few hours to drink water or eat food and then probably return to its hidey-hole to catch up on its sleep.
If you’re concerned about not spending enough time bonding with your pet, don’t be. You’ll get quite a few chances during the day (for however short a period) to pick up your hammie and cuddle it a little.
Congratulations are in order if your pet is more diurnal, because such hamsters are pretty rare. Generally, hamsters are hard-wired by nature to stay active during low-light hours – when there’s little chance of being gobbled up by predators. But, your hamster is a little rebel if it likes staying awake during daylight hours.
Although, even diurnal hammies are known to take naps during the day. So you may have to figure out the best time for spending some quality time with your hamster according to the little guy (or gal’s) schedule.
Crepuscular hammies are more in touch with their wild side, because they behave exactly like hamsters in the wilderness. Such hammies like napping during the majority of the day and night, only to become active at dusk and dawn.
However, even if your pet is crepuscular, don’t worry about not being able to watch it running around in its cage. As I said earlier, hamsters don’t really sleep in one big stretch. There will be times when your hammie wakes up to stuff its little cheeks with food.
Is It Bad If My Hamster Sleeps At Night?
If your hamster has always preferred sleeping at night, then it’s no big deal for your hammie to catch some sleep when the sun is down.
As long as your hamster is getting the necessary amount of sleep and appears healthy, there’s nothing for you to worry about. However, if your pet has suddenly taken to sleeping at night, you may want to watch out for signs such as aggression, weight loss, and loss of appetite.
If your pet displays one or some of those signs along with a sudden shift in sleeping habits, then you must take it to the vet asap. Most of the time, your hammie’s sleeping arrangement will shift when it’s under stress.
Here are a few possible reasons why your pet hammie may be under strain:
1. Introduction of a New Cage Mate
If you’ve recently made an addition to the hammie population at home, your hamster may be under stress because of the newest member of your family.
Syrian hamsters prefer staying on their own, but dwarf and Chinese hamsters aren’t opposed to company. Nonetheless, it may take your hammie some time to settle in with a new roommate, and that’s pretty natural.
2. Change of Location
If you’ve changed houses or simply moved your hammie’s cage to another room, this may be enough to irritate your pet. Hamsters are quite sensitive to even the slightest change in light and activity levels. Plus, once they’re used to a spot, moving to a new one can cause a small upset.
3. Attempts to Modify Your Pet’s Sleep Cycle
It’s never a good idea to try and force your pet hamster to change its sleeping schedule, but it’s not unheard of either. Be warned that any attempts to change or modify your hammie’s natural sleeping schedule will upset your pet and cause it to act out.
Think about it. How happy would you be if someone pushed you to stay up all night and sleep in the daytime?
Is It O.K. to Wake a Hamster Up?
Even when they’re asleep, hamsters don’t fully relax because they’re always on the lookout for predators or an unexpected attack. It doesn’t matter to them that they’re in a cage, inside a house, and completely safe.
Not to mention, they can expend a lot of energy going round and round on their little wheels. What I’m trying to get at is that your hammie needs its rest because it’s pretty high-strung. That’s also why it’s not a good idea to wake up your hamster without a good reason.
In fact, if you ignore that advice and wake your hamster up anyway, you may just be met with a banshee-like screech. When startled, some hamsters scream at the top of their lungs to scare predators off. And although they’re small, their lungs pack quite the auditory punch.
Having said that, there are times when you can’t help but wake the little furball up for a valid reason. For instance, maybe you need to take your hammie to the vet, or perhaps you’re in the middle of moving homes.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where waking up your hamster is a must, do it gently. Start with talking to it softly or gently blowing on it rather than touching it. Even humming is a good idea.
If that doesn’t work, try offering your hammie a treat. Mind you, you’re going to have to hold the treat close enough for your hammie to get a good whiff of it. That generally works like a charm. Hamsters are voracious eaters.
Ensuring Your Hamster Gets Enough Sleep
Not all little critters have the same waketime/sleeptime habits, so it’s important to get to know your little guy’s needs.
A crucial part of taking care of a hamster is ensuring it has everything it needs to live a healthy life. Diet plays a significant role in health, but so does sleep. That’s why I’ve decided to impart easy-to-implement pro-tips to make sure your hammie gets the beauty sleep it deserves.
1. Place the Cage in a Quiet Spot
Have you ever tried sleeping with New Year celebrations in full swing? If yes, now you know how your hammie feels when there are all sorts of noises around its home.
Whether you live alone or as part of a big, boisterous family, you’ll need to make sure that you place your hamster’s cage in an area that doesn’t see too much activity or sound. That means the T.V. lounge and family room are out of the question unless you want to have an extremely stressed hamster on your hands.
A guest room that isn’t used too often, with an average temperature of about 69°F is going to work just fine. If you guard your privacy and don’t allow many visitors in your room, that’ll do too.
2. Leave Your Hamster’s Nest Mostly Alone
Did you know that hamsters have a brilliant sense of smell? Yup, in fact, your hammie relies more on its nose than its eyes. That also means the slightest change in the scent of their surroundings can cause a big problem.
Another brilliant way to ensure your hammie sleeps to its heart’s content is to leave its nest alone for as long as you can. Yes, I know not cleaning the hamster cage on a daily basis can result in toxic fumes, but that’s why people came up with spot cleaning.
Now, I know you’re thinking about what happens when the whole bedding needs to go. Don’t worry, even if you need to change the entire bedding, make sure to keep a few clean (or mostly clean) pieces from the old nest, and your hammie will add that to its new crib. Easy peasy!
3. Keep the Cage Away from Direct Sunlight
While your hamster won’t spontaneously combust if you place it in direct sunlight (unless you’ve got a hamster version of Bunnicula on your hands), it can still cause problems.
Hammies need darkness to rest and sleep because their internal clock is linked to the sun’s movement. That means darkness equals time to go to sleep. But, if you place your hamster’s cage near sunlight, all that light can keep it from napping, leading to one very pissed-off little rodent.
Avoid the obstacle of dealing with an angry hamster by keeping the cage in a room with thick curtains. Or if that’s not an option, place the cage under a desk, but ensure there’s still plenty of ventilation.
If your hamster is in a wire cage, don’t try and cover the hamster cage, because hamsters are known for chewing on them, leading to choking hazards. It may not be a good idea to cover a glass tank either, as it’s hard to remember when to put it on and off consistently. It can also restrict airflow.
If you’re a hammie parent that still has some unanswered queries, scroll through the questions below to learn more about all things hamster-related!
Do Hamsters Wake Up Easily?
Hamsters have terrific hearing and sense of smell. That means a hammie can be aware of your presence near its cage even if you’re in ninja mode. Even when your pet is asleep, the slightest noise will be more than enough to alert your hamster and to wake it from its sleep.
Should You Cover Your Hamster Cage at Night?
If your hamster is nocturnal, covering its cage up at night will not help much. But it can do plenty of harm.
Hamsters love chewing on things that are within easy reach, and covering a wire cage with a blanket may lead to your furball chewing on the cover. That may not sound too dangerous, but it can lead to your pet choking on the material.
If your pet is housed in a glass tank, it can still be an issue because it may be hard to remember when to remove the covering and you can throw off your hamster’s sleep cycle if you forget. It can also restrict airflow from the top of the cage.
Are Loud Noises Bad for Hamsters?
Hamsters have incredible hearing and can pick up even the slightest of sounds. That means not only can a hamster pick up loud noises but also that harsh sounds can irritate them, leading to stress.
A stressed hamster can go off food or sleep and become more susceptible to illnesses like wet-tail, which can be fatal for your pet at times, despite treatment.
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