Are Hamsters Nocturnal , Diurnal or Crepuscular ?
Hamsters are both crepuscular and nocturnal, usually going out an hour before sunset and returning to bed an hour or two after sunrise, so they are active at night, but often wake up during the day and may make daytime appearances for a few minutes to have a snack, go to the bathroom, drink water, do a quick inspection of the cage, or even take a quick sand bath and go back to bed right after.
Are wild hamsters also nocturnal and crepuscular?
This may surprise you, but a study conducted in Germany on golden hamsters concluded that golden hamsters in their natural habitat can spend up to a hour and a half during the day foraging outside their burrows.
These hamsters leave their burrows during the day to avoid nocturnal predators such as owls and jackals.
This study shows that hamsters can change their sleeping habits and adapt to the factors that surround them. Temperature, predators, food availability, etc.
But this is not generally the case with our domesticated hamsters which are generally crepuscular and nocturnal.
Hamsters from crepuscular in their natural habitat to nocturnal in captivity
In their natural habitats, in Syria (Aleppo), Russia or Europe, hamsters are rather crepuscular.
They come out of their burrows just before the sun goes down, and may go back and forth in their burrows to carry their finds, food and other necessities until daybreak and even a little while after sunrise.
But hamsters as pets have become rather nocturnal and may not leave their nest until late at night, 11 pm, or even after midnight.
The reason is the artificial light in their room or the light coming in through the window.
Hamsters usually wait until all the lights are off to come out, at least the one in their room, while in the wild, it’s the sunset that sounds the moment to come out of their burrow.
Why is my hamster sleeping all day?
I know you want to enjoy your hamster, but if you sleep before he wakes up, how can this be?
Unfortunately, your hamster is not diurnal and will only appear in daylight very rarely and for a short time before disappearing again.
If you want to tame your hamster, pet it, spend time with it, have it eat from your hand, see it spin its wheel…
You have to resist to sleep because your hamster can appear and go out of his nest from 7 pm, but he can wait until 11 pm to show himself !
Your hamster will stay active during the night until daybreak, usually for 7 to 8 hours and will return to his nest to sleep before 8 am usually.
Can I play with my hamster when I see it during the day?
No, if your hamster comes out of his nest during the day, know that there is a valid reason for this, here are some of them:
- He has heard noise or movement in his cage and he comes to inspect and see if there is any threat.
- He wants to go to the bathroom
- He is thirsty or hungry and has no food supply in his nest
When your hamster goes out during the day, don’t disturb him because he will quickly return to his nest.
Never change the sleeping habits of your hamster, you will stress him and make him sick and reduce considerably his life span and it’s just an attack on his happiness!
If you want to play with your hamster, stay awake or ask your parents for permission to do so.
Why are hamsters crepuscular and nocturnal?
The main reason that hamsters only come out at dusk and at night is to avoid being easily seen by predators.
The natural enemies of hamsters are hibou and jackals and since hamsters do not have good eyesight to see their predators from a distance, they prefer to come out when it is dark.
They use their whiskers, sense of smell and glands to leave scent trails on the ground to find their way back to their burrows even after traveling several miles each night.
The climate is also another reason why hamsters prefer the coolness of the night to the heat during the day, I am talking about the Syrian and European Hamster.
For hamsters in captivity, like yours, and since the light and temperature are artificial at home, he will keep his habits when he was at the breeder, ie those of his mother, and be active from sunset to sunrise.
Each hamster will have its own hours of waking up and they are from 7pm to 11pm.
Are there hamsters that sleep at night and stay active during the day?
It is not common but I have heard that it can happen that a hamster wakes up in the morning like us and stays active all day to go back to sleep at night!
This is not normal but you can find this kind of hamster behavior and lifestyle , it is not a special breed of hamster but a particular behavior and sleeping habits incomprehensible and uncommon for this kind of animals.
Can I change my hamster’s sleeping habits?
No, even if you can force him to do so!
You should never try to force your hamster to stay awake during the day just for your own sake!
You have to respect your hamster’s habits if you don’t want to make him sick and kill him prematurely.
Even when your hamster makes a brief appearance during the day, do not restrain him or take him out of his cage unless there is a valid reason such as
- Clean the cage
- Take your hamster to the vet
- If he is going to accompany you on a trip
- If there is a fire!
I mean, respect the internal clock of your hamster and it’s up to you to adapt to his sleeping and living rhythm and not the opposite.
He has a tiny body that will not support these changes!
After all, getting your hamster to be active during the day and sleep at night will take several months, so you’ll need to insulate the room where he’s staying by installing dark curtains that will keep out all daylight.
So you have to make the hamster believe that it is night but during the day !! by blocking the sunlight and turning on the light of his room all night long so that he goes to sleep !
I advise you not to do that, his sleep will not be a repairing sleep anymore !! and your hamster will die twice as fast !
In addition to that, the fact of changing the day of the hamster in night!! will create a monster
Your hamster will become aggressive and it will not be possible any more to pick it up , to pet it or even to play with!
I have heard that Winter white dwarf hamsters live during the day and sleep at night!
No, this is not true, these hamsters sleep between 6 and 8 hours and they do it like all other hamsters during the day.
Russian hamsters are nocturnal and crepuscular like all the others, and if you want a pet that lives during the day, choose more a guinea pig.
What is the correct way to wake up a sleeping hamster in case of need ?
If you have to wake up your hamster as to take him to the vet, you have to proceed gently.
First of all, it’s best to keep an eye on your hamster and wait for it to wake up on its own and grab it before it goes back into its nest.
If not, open the cage door, put your hand in and gently move the litter box without sudden movements.
Your hamster will feel the vibrations and will come out to inspect his cage.
Take the opportunity to give him a treat and transfer him to his transport cage for example.
Avoid sudden movements and light during this operation, your hamster will be able to go back to sleep in his new cage.
You must also avoid to scare and surprise your hamster in his hodeout or his nest, he will surely bite you and he is right !
What time do hamsters usually wake up?
Generally, hamsters wake up and show up between 6 PM and 8 PM during the winter, but may not show up until after 11 PM during the summer.
The cold and the languor of the day play an important role in the sleeping habits of our little furballs.
What to do to show the hamster to the children ?
It’s easy, if your hamster only shows up once the kids have gone to bed, it will surely stay up late in the morning!
All you have to do to make the kids enjoy their hamster is to wake them up a little too early!
At 6 AM for example, the hamster will still be active and the children will be able to play with him and pet him…etc
You can also allow the children to go bed a little late during the weekend, because there is no school the next day, so they can see the hamster during its active hours .
Is it normal to never see my hamster during the day?
You are probably wondering if your hamster is ok when you don’t see him even once during the whole day ! what to do in this case ?
Even at night, it happens very often to see your hamster during the day.
They often make brief appearances before disappearing again and returning to sleep.
But what to do when your hamster doesn’t show up during the day as it usually does?
First of all, know that your hamster does not need to see you, he just wants his cage to stay clean, his food and water bowl full, his litter box changed, etc.
But if your hamster is not missing and you do not seeing him for 24 hours will surely make you suspicious ! Is he still alive ???
Just check the water level in the bowl or bottle and if his dry food is still in the bowl (take a picture of the bowl before and after and compare)!
You can even put a piece of his favorite fruit in front of his burrow and see if he will take it later!!! which makes your hamster fine and there is no reason for you to be worried.
So instead of waking your hamster, look for signs of life; traces in his sandbox, the litter turned over and as I said, the water level in his bottle.
Another method to know if your hamster woke up while you were sleeping is to leave a mark with a marker in his wheel and check the next day if this wheel has turned during the night!
How to tame my hamster if I never see him during the day?
Unfortunately, the longer your hamster stays without contact with you, the more difficult and longer the process of taming him will be.
You are not going to wake up your hamster during the day to train and learn him.
Instead, you should do this an hour after he wakes up, once he has eaten a little, drunk some water, spent some energy on his wheel.
If your hamster wakes up at 7 PM, wait until 8 PM to start the taming sessions, he will be more awake and more receptive to your taming efforts.
You can monitor what time your hamster goes back to his nest to sleep in the morning, and schedule another taming session a hour before he goes to sleep.
The majority of hamsters are crepuscular and nocturnal, and they may not show up until 11 PM, especially during the warm season.
So if you want to enjoy your hamster, stay awake or get up too early in the morning.
Never change your hamster’s sleeping habits.