Unless they work night shifts, most humans are naturally awake in the day and will sleep at night. However, not all animals share the same sleeping patterns and it is natural for some to spend most of their waking hours in darkness and to sleep during the day. Animals with this sleeping pattern are called nocturnal animals. If you have ever owned a hamster, you may have noticed that they are more active at night. So, does this mean that hamsters are a nocturnal animal?
Are Hamsters Nocturnal?
Whether hamsters are nocturnal or not is a matter of debate. In the wild, they are mostly active at night, which means they are often classified at night. However, some experts argue that they are crepuscular, which is a rather non-specific term used to describe animals that are also awake during twilight and dusk and not just distinguishing between daylight and darkness.
The Normal Sleeping and Activity Pattern of a Hamsters
Hamsters living in the wild will usually spend the day sleeping in their burrow and come out to play and look for food at night. This is because hamsters have many predators and the best way for them to avoid death is to hide in their burrows during the day when their predators are active. At night, a hamster has fewer predators, so this is the safest time for them to leave the comfort of their burrow.
Domestic hamsters usually follow a similar sleep and activity pattern, even though they do not have to fear predators. It is simply a hamster’s instinct to sleep during the day and to become active at night. The exact sleeping and activity patterns of hamsters can depend on their breed and most will spend at least a few hours awake during daylight hours. Activity in the home can also impact on their natural patterns.
Should You Interfere with a Hamster’s Normal Sleeping Pattern?
There are some breeds of hamster that will naturally adapt their sleeping and activity patterns to their environment and circumstances. In most cases, this applies to the more social breeds as they learn when they will get the most attention from their owner and adapt their own routine accordingly.
However, hamsters do not like being woken from their sleep and may even bite you if you disturb them. For this reason, it is best to put your hamster’s cage in a part of the house where they are least likely to get disturbed during the day.
If you want to change your hamster’s sleeping habits so it is awake for more hours while you are awake, it is possible to do so and it will not cause them any health problems. They are creatures of routine, so it is simply a matter of changing their routine a little at a time.
Food is the best resource for changing the sleeping pattern of a hamster. Start putting their food outside their cage 15 minutes before they usually wake up. Don’t put the food in the cage because the clanging will alarm the hamster. The smell of the food will trigger their senses and make them alert. Once they are awake, you can then put the food into the cage. Put the food out a little earlier each day and this will change the normal sleeping and activity pattern of your hamster.
Hamsters have a natural sleeping and activity pattern based on the environment in the wild when they must avoid predators in the day. This means that they are most active at night and will spend most of the daylight hours sleeping. However, it is possible to change this pattern, so the hamster has a routine more similar to your own and changing their routine will not cause them any physical problems.