Hamsters are very sensitive to their surroundings. If you want your hamster to stay healthy and happy, then you need to keep his natural environment in mind when you're setting up your hamster's cage and selecting a location for it in your house. Your hamster may be uncomfortable if he has too much light -- or not enough.
A Hamster's Life
Hamsters have only been domesticated and kept as pets within the last century. Before they became popular as pets, several varieties of hamsters lived freely in areas of Europe and Asia. In the wild, hamsters are nocturnal and sleep during daylight hours. Being nocturnal means hamsters are active starting in the late evening and go to sleep in the early morning. Domestic hamsters maintain this schedule naturally, without any training or effort on the part of the owner.
Hamsters and Light
Hamsters benefit from limited light. Your hamster's instinctive reaction to daylight is to start getting tired and go to sleep. It's not a good idea to interfere with the amount of light your hamster receives or try to alter his sleep patterns because he can become stressed or suffer from sleep deprivation. Remember that light is your hamster's sign that it's time for bed. The healthiest hamsters tend to be those who are allowed to set their own sleep schedules and get plenty of rest.
In an ideal environment, your hamster should be placed in a room that gets plenty of natural light without placing him directly in the sun. A bright, climate-controlled room that does not require a lot of artificial lighting will create the most natural environment for your pet.
Artificial lighting disturbs your hamster's natural sleep and waking cycles, which can cause stress for your pet and lead to behavioral or aggression problems. Too much light or light at the wrong time of day can seriously affect your hamster's mental and physical health. You should not put a light in your hamster's cage because it can pose a fire hazard, cause overheating and even burn your hamster if he remains in close contact with the light.
- Animal Port: Nocturnal Animal Information
- Animal Rights Coalition: Ten Things to Know Before Adopting a Hamster
- Science Daily: Rodents Seem Depressed from Dim Light at Night, but It Can Be Reversed
- The Pet Advantage: Hamsters
- Small Animal Channel: All About Hamster Sleep Habits
- Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital: Hamsters Basic Care
- Small Animal Channel: Understanding Your Hamster's Sleep Schedule
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.