Posted: February 21, 2008, 12:02 p.m. EST
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Always wait for a hamster to wake up on his own before interacting with him.
Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they’re active in the evening and sleep during the day. Understanding and working with a hamster’s sleep schedule is essential to developing a good relationship with this pet.
Each hamster is an individual, but a typical hamster schedule is to fall asleep around noon, wake a couple of hours later for a brief period, sleep some more, and then stay awake throughout the night. It helps to be a night owl yourself if you want to spend time interacting with a hamster.
Trying to alter a hamster’s sleep schedule is stressful for the animal and can cause poor health and unfriendly behavior. A hamster that’s disturbed frequently during the day will become cranky and is likely to bite. The following steps help you accommodate your hamster’s sleep needs:
- Clean the cage, provide food and handle a hamster in late afternoon or evening.
- Learn a hamster’s schedule, and handle and play with it during its waking periods.
- Place the hamster’s cage in a dark, quiet area where the animal can sleep comfortably during the day and where its digging, scratching and wheel-running won’t disturb you in the middle of the night.
- Provide a cozy enclosed space such as a small box or clay pot turned on its side where the hamster can sleep.
- If you need to waken your hamster, talk to it quietly as you change its food and water. Your voice and the activity will bring it out of its slumber.
- Wake your hamster at the same time every day to help it develop a regular schedule.
All hamsters are nocturnal, but some are awake more often than others during the day. Syrian hamsters dislike being disturbed during their normal sleep time, while Chinese hamsters are more willing to interact with people during the day. Winter Whites and Campbell’s are active for brief periods in daylight hours. Roborovskis are more likely than other hamsters to be active during the day and at night.