Wondering whether hamsters are nocturnal? If you’ve ever owned a hamster then you will know that they certainly aren’t the liveliest creatures during the day!
And if you’re new to these little bundles of fur, then we’re here to tell you that they don’t make the best daytime playmates. But are hamsters nocturnal? Not exactly…
Although you may see plenty of references to hamsters being nocturnal animals, the vast majority of hamsters are actually crepuscular (this is one of our favorite hamster facts!). This may not be a word that you have heard of before. It originates from the Latin word for twilight, crepusculum. It simply 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 appear to be nocturnal, as they 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 change your hamster’s sleeping pattern?
If you’re reading this article then you are obviously wondering, “are hamsters nocturnal?” Although we’ve explained that this isn’t the case, 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.
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.
Hopefully we’ve explained that hamsters are not actually nocturnal. But that doesn’t mean they don’t sleep a lot during the day. 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, to go out; you wouldn’t like that now would you?