Why Do Hamsters Sleep All Day? Are They Sick?

Most new hamster owners are shocked to find that the little chubbies won’t play with them at daytime but will be all over them at night.

This, however, doesn’t mean anything is wrong – quite the contrary. Hamsters are naturally nocturnal animals, which means they are most active in the evenings and nights.

And it’s not for nothing. See, hamsters are so chubby and cute that we are not the only animals looking out for them.

Owls, some snakes, canids and wild cats are some of the animals that prey on the adorable babies. As such, they (hamsters) evolved to only venture out at nighttime when predators are likely to not be around.

Notably, that doesn’t mean that your hamster won’t be awake at daytime; just that they won’t be down to playing around with you as their body system won’t be fully awake.

Pretty much like how you won’t necessarily be pleased when someone rudely wakes you up at 3 am in the morning.

How Much do Hamsters Sleep?

Hamsters need at least 6-8 hours of sleep every day, but they can sleep 2-3 days in a row, when they are hibernating.

It is absolutely normal that your hamster will wake up multiple times during the day to eat and drink. It is s not unusual to use exercise wheel for a few minutes and go back to sleep.

As I mentioned above, hamsters are nocturnal animals and they will be mostly active during night time. However, you can gradually alter their sleeping habits to be more active during day time.

Here are a few tips that will help you and your hamster play more during the day:

How To Make Your Hamster Active During Day Time?

It is worth noting that the propensity of hamsters to get active at night is more of a psychological than a physical factor, just like that of humans to work during the day and sleep at night.

With a few behavioral tweaks, you can gradually make your hamster come alive in the daylight and sleep at night. Here are 5 actionable steps to that end:

Step 1: Build a “Friendship”

If you just bought your hamster, you need to first build a good rapport with it before you can think of modifying it’s sleeping patterns. And it’s quite a simple thing to do.

For starters, aim to hand-feed the pet every day, instead of using a bowl. Further, spare a few minutes of your nighttime schedule to play with the hamster and caress it all over.

With time, it will grow to love and cherish your company and even look forward to hanging out with you, which will in turn make it easy for you to change its sleeping habits.

Step 2: Light Modification

As mentioned earlier, the whole process is a psychological game. In essence, you need to trick, or “convince” the hamster that it is night-time when it’s daytime and vice versa by completely, or significantly eliminating the light during the day.

You may do this by using light-blocking curtains, covering their cage with a duvet, or even placing the cage inside a dark closet. In simple terms, recreate a night-time environment.

Step 3: Alter the Meal Plan

You probably know by now that hamsters like eating at night. As you change their sleeping habits, you will also need to change their eating habits as well to avoid problems at night.

To this end, try feeding the pet as soon as you wake it up (during the day), at the same time, every single day.

During the first few days, you will note that the hamster will try to go back to sleep after feeding, but this shouldn’t worry you. This can be solved by feeding it immediately it wakes up.

Step 4: Be Consistent

Your actions in the above steps will amount to nothing if you only do it once, or a few times. To achieve results, consistency of schedule is required. So, decide on the exact time of day that you will be switching off the lights and then stick to the schedule.

Changing, or not following the schedule can mess the hamster’s sleep pattern for good and make it hard for you to accomplish your objectives.

Step 5: Be Patient

It can take anywhere between a week to several months for your hamster to get used to being active during the day. At times, you may feel like your actions are not bearing any fruits and even be tempted to quit the whole process.

However, it is advisable to remain patient and focused as the completion date always gets closer with every passing day.

While at it, you may try intensifying your daytime interactions with the pet to encourage it to stay awake and active. Give it small treats in regular intervals, for instance.

You can also place it in an exercise ball or take it for a walk around your darkened room.

Is It Ok to Wake Up A Hamster?

Well, is it okay to wake up a human at 2 am just to “play” with them?

On the real, though, how okay it is to wake up a hamster depends on how you do it. For instance, it is neither okay nor safe for you to directly grab the animal when waking it up.

For one, that will make the hamster angry and scared, which will not only ruin its sleep time (which is unhealthy), but also turn on its defensive mode, making it likely to bite your hand.

Nonetheless, there are several ways to wake up a hamster without risking its health and beauty sleep, as well as your hand as follows:

  • Be Very Gentle – As mentioned above, direct touching is not preferred when waking up a hamster. Having built up a good rapport with your pet, you can successfully and effectively wake it up using your voice. To do this, go to the pet’s cage and hum, or sing softly until it wakes up.
  • Bribe The Pet – Hamsters love food as much as other animals and the smell of a nice, fresh treat can wake them up even from deep slumbers. To do this, get to your hamster’s cage and place a treat very close to it, ideally near its face. If the treat is fresh, the scent will eventually draw the pet awake.
  • Watch Your Steps – The whole idea here is to make the hamster ‘come alive’, not dead in shock and fear. Hence, try to reduce any sudden or jarring movements that may put the pet into defensive mode. If possible, remove your shoes and approach the cage very slowly.

How to Make Your Hamster Quite at Night?

You probably know the answer to this by now.

For those at the back, you make your hamster quiet at night by making it think that it’s daytime (aka sleeping time). When you really want to sleep, put the pet in a brightly light room and it will be asleep and quiet in no time.

Also, switch off the heater in the said room as warm temperatures make hamsters want to play more (just like humans then!). Cold temperatures, in contrast, make it easier for them to sleep.

Is Your Hamster Sleeping or Dead?

In cold environments, pet hamsters inadvertently get into hibernation mode, which basically means they sleep throughout the day and night and remain still and limp. For first time pet owners, this can be quite a shock and mistakenly lead to the belief that the animal is dead.

Nonetheless, it is quite easy to determine whether your hamster is just sleeping or dead. One way is to slowly stroke its whiskers and mouth area. If the pet is alive, it will twitch and vice versa.

A warmer cheek pouch, compared to the rest of the body, is also a sign of life. Last but not least, if your pet is just sleeping, taking it to a warmer spot will cause some unconscious stirring while for a dead one, the body will remain limp and cold.

Wrapping Up

Having a hamster is a wonderful experience as they are one of the most eccentric and lovable animals once you get to know them.

Knowing how your hamster’s sleep pattern is set up can help you go a long way in establishing and maintaining a perfect relationship between you two.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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