One thing that you will get to know as a hamster owner is that you may not see a lot of your pet during daylight hours. You’ll often see your hamster sleep during the day!
(Related article: Are hamsters nocturnal?)
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 do hamsters 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.
Interestingly, while it’s true that hamsters are most active at night, they are not “nocturnal”.
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 supply the raw materials, such a shredded kitchen towel and fresh hay.
You should not give your hamster fluffy bedding as it can be a choking hazard!
Looking after your hamster’s bedding
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.
Let your hamster sleep in peace
Think about it, how would you like it if someone came and shook you awake in the middle of the night? You wouldn’t be very happy, and you would probably be a little startled! This is exactly the same for a hamster. It can be very tempting to want to play with your pet, but you should always allow them to wake up naturally before you do this.
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.
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.
If 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.