sleeping habits of hamsters

The Sleeping Habits of Hamsters

If you have a hamster then a sleeping hammy is a common sight during the day time.

It might seem frustrating to see them asleep mostly during the day and then as evening comes around they come around.

For example, my Syrian is currently running around his cage at 11.26pm at night as I write this post.

He has been asleep curled up in a ball for most of the day.

I did see him at various points during day up

However this was only for a short time before he retreated back to the nest he has made with gathered up tissue and wood shavings.

So what are the sleeping habits of hamsters?

Here are some features of what happens, what they do and how they do it when they sleep.

Hamsters are crepiscular

As crepuscular rodents, they are more often than not asleep during the day.

They tend to come awake once dusk comes around and then throughout the night.

Their sleeping patterns are driven by their own biological requirements.

Hamsters tend to sleep when they need to and wake up when they need to.

Their crepuscular activity comes from how they are in their natural environment.

The cover of dawn and dusk provides a good opportunity to look for food.

During this time they break out of their cover and can avade any predators that are on the lookout for them.

Do all hamsters sleep the same?

Even though all hamsters are crepuscular, some varieties are awake more often that others during daylight hours.

Syrian, Winter white dwarf’s and Russian Campbell dwarf hamsters tend to be active during brief periods during the day.

Syrians though tend to sleep for longer stretches and do not like being disturbed during sleep.

Roborovksi hamsters tend to be more active during the day than other hamster varieties.

All varieties are more active during the night than during the daytime.

Using their night awareness for their advantage

As the night draws in, they continue to rely on their excellent night vision.

They use it greatly to continue to hunt and collect food plus get the exercise that they need.

Indeed, many experts say that hamsters can run on average around 9 kilometers a night.


Daytime is for sleeping

There are a few reasons why hamsters sleep mostly during the day.

1.In their natural environment, it gets hot during the day and cooler at night.

It is much better for them to be running around at night and much more comfortable for them.

So they have naturally evolved to sleep more during the day and be active during the cooler evenings.

2.The day light hours are just too dangerous for them in the wild.

If they are out and about during this time, there is too much chance of being seen and caught by a predator.

This is why they sleep more during daylight hours to this day.

They have evolved their senses to be able to move around easily during this time.

Monophasic and polyphasic sleep patterns

As humans we are monophasic sleepers which means we have one period of sleep over 24 hours.

Hamsters are said to have a similar sleeping pattern.

However, I have noted from my experience that are times they can have polyphasic sleep patterns.

This is where they short periods of sleep which are divided up between short bursts of being awake.

Light sleepers

Hamsters tend to sleep lightly.

This is again from their experiences in the wild where they need to stay alert to keep predators at bay.

This is a familiar trait of many prey animals who can wake in an instant and run away if they sense danger.

Some prey animals such as guinea pigs can even sleep with their eyes open.

However, this is not a trait known in hamsters.

They like to create their own bed

As independent animals, they very much like to create their own place to sleep.

I have never managed to get a hamster to sleep in its own bed for very long.

They very much like to find their own place to rest and gather up bedding to sleep on.

This very much shows their independent characteristics and every bed I have ever created for them they have pretty much ignored.

Once they have established their bed, they tend not to move on and settle in the same place, even if I have to change their bedding.

Cleaning their bedding

Even though they like to have a bed that is undisturbed, it is important that it is cleaned regularly so as to keep things healthy for they hamster.

This is why any cleaning needs to be undertaken with consideration, no too often and not infrequently as to let feces build up.

Spot cleaning of feces is a must.

Do not disturb

Hamsters do not enjoy being woken up.

As mentioned above, this is particularly the case with Syrian’s.

In fact this can stress them out if they are startled from their sleep.

It is a bad idea to attempt to handle a hamster when it has just been woken as it may bite in reaction to being woken.

What about hibernation?

Hamsters do not hibernate, instead they can go into a temporary hibernating state called ‘torpor’.

Torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity which is reduced by its body temperature and metabolic rate.

It is called ‘torpor’ as it is a much shorter time than hibernation lasting from anything between a few hours to a whole day.

It is caused when temperatures drop below 40 degrees farenheit and they do so for self preservation and in that time their breathing is slowed and they can go for long periods without eating food.



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