Hamster sleep: Are hamsters nocturnal?

One thing that you will notice as a hamster owner is that you don’t see much of them during daylight hours. In fact, you’ll often see your hamster sleep during the day.

This doesn’t mean that hamsters are never awake during the day, but it does mean hamsters are most active in the evening, and at night time.

In this article, we take a closer look at hamster sleep and tell you everything you need to know about hamster sleep patterns.

Why does my hamster sleep during the day?

In their natural environment, hamsters are prey animals, so it makes sense that they should venture out to acquire food when it’s less likely there will be predators about.

This is why hamsters do their food foraging at night, and then sleep during the day. The food that they gather at night is often stored, so that they can eat at any time.

Hamsters do wake up at times during the day, to take on food and water, and satisfy their high metabolism, but they often go straight back to sleep.

Are hamsters nocturnal?

If hamsters sleep a lot during the day, and forage for food at night, does that mean they are nocturnal? Not exactly…

Although you may see references to hamsters being “nocturnal” animals, the vast majority of hamsters are actually crepuscular (this is one of our favorite hamster facts!).

“Crepuscular” may not be a word that you have heard of before. It originates from the Latin word for twilight, crepusculum. It means that hamsters, like many other mammals, are more likely to be awake and active at dawn or dusk.

This isn’t to say that some hamsters don’t ever stay awake all night. Much like humans, individual hamsters have their own sleep patterns. They aren’t all awake and playful at exactly the same time.

Why are hamsters crepuscular?

It seems that hamsters were originally crepuscular because they needed to be. When the first Syrian hamsters lived in the wild, there were a lot of predators about that wanted to grab them for dinner. Of course, these wild hamsters didn’t really want to become fast food, so they had to adapt the way they lived, to help them survive.

Hamsters would leave their homes at dawn or dusk, to get the food they needed, which could then be eaten whenever they were hungry. So if you ever think, “why does my hamster sleep all day?” it’s because it’s ancestors used to chill out during the day, after stocking up on food early in the morning, or late into the evening and night. The crepuscular living pattern is now part of every hamster’s nature, even though domestic hamsters don’t live with the threat of predators.

Should you try to change the natural hamster sleep pattern?

We’ve explained that hamsters aren’t nocturnal, but rather crepuscular. However, they can display some sleeping habits that are similar to those of nocturnal creatures. One of these habits is that they often sleep during the day.

This might seem weird to you, if you’re wide awake, and want to play with your pet. But one thing that you should always remember is that you should never force your hamster to be awake when it doesn’t want to be. This is likely to make your furry friend very angry, and you really don’t want that to happen.

If you wake your hamster up from its sleep then you stand a good chance of being bitten by your angry and startled pet. Is it really worth it just to have a little playtime with your pet? All you need to do is be a little patient, and wait until your hamster is awake.

There are ways to encourage your hamster to be more active early in the evening. You can try feeding your pet at a slightly earlier time. If they hear you putting food in the cage, it’s likely to wake them up, and if you stick to the same time each day, they will gradually get used to waking up at this hour.

Your hamster’s cage should never be kept in bright light, but you can try further reducing the amount of light it gets in the evening. As the amount of light is decreased, your hamster is likely to think it’s time to wake up and explore.

Hamsters make great pets; they are generally friendly and easy to bond with. But you have to respect that your hamster may often want to sleep when you would rather play. Never wake your pet up when it wants to sleep. That would be like someone waking you up at 3am,  you wouldn’t like that now would you?!

Where do hamsters like to sleep?

Firstly it’s important to remember that your hamster’s cage needs to be kept in a position where your pet gets used to humans being around, but where its sleep will not be disturbed during the day. Then you need to ensure that your hamster has a cosy place to sleep. This provides your pet with the safe and secluded space it needs when it’s snoozing.

Bedding is also essential in order for your hamster to enjoy its sleep. Hamsters love making their own little bed. All you need to do is provide a bedding material We recommend these great options:

You should not give your hamster fluffy bedding as it can be a choking hazard!

The importance of bedding to hamster sleep

Once it has created its own bed, your hamster will not want it to be disturbed. Of course, you still need to keep your hamster’s environment clean.

When you are cleaning your hamster’s cage you need to preserve its bed for as long as possible. This means removing any droppings. And any wet bedding and providing some fresh bedding for the hamster to use, and combine with the parts of its bed that are left.

You should never replace all of your pet’s bed at once; a hamster gets used to the scent of its sleeping area so you need to ensure that the scent remains in place.

Why knowing your hamster’s sleep pattern is important

Although domestic hamsters usually sleep at night, it’s worth noting that each individual hamster can have a slightly different sleep pattern. It’s important to get to know your hamster’s sleep pattern, so that you can tell if there is a problem.

Hamster2-300If your hamster is sleeping for a lot longer than usual, you should take note of the temperature; hamsters like temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and if the temperature is very low, their breathing can slow, and they can go into hibernation.

There can be other reasons for changes to your hamster’s sleep pattern. If you are concerned, and especially if changes are accompanied by a reduction in appetite, and/or a change in personality, you should seek advice from a vet.

If you have hamster as a pet, the most important things to remember about its sleep are; never disturb it, always make sure there is a supply of clean, fresh bedding, don’t remove all of your hamster’s bed at once and pay careful attention to any changes in your pets sleep pattern.