Everything you have read has consistently told you that your new hamster is supposed to be nocturnal. It makes sense for you to be concerned when your own observation of your new pet tells you that he's not sleeping at night. While strange sleeping patterns aren't a cause for immediate panic, make sure your hamster is getting adequate sleep and remaining healthy.
The Not-So-Nocturnal Hamster
Hamsters are supposed to sleep for most of the day and be awake for most of the night. It is normal for a hamster to move around during the early morning or late evening as well as periodically move and shift throughout the day. Healthy hamsters do not sleep eight hours straight without stirring so don't be surprised to see some movement from your pet during the day. Its normal for your hamster to move around enough that you know he's still alive. Dwarf hamsters and Chinese hamsters tend to be more flexible about their sleep schedules than Syrians. If your kids come in from school every afternoon and immediately go look at the hamster, it would not be unheard of for a pet hamster to get used to waking up at this time and interacting for a little while before going back to sleep.
It's A Zoo Out There
You've probably never attempted to get a good night's sleep right smack dab in the middle of a parade, but your hamster may be able to tell you what it is like to try to sleep when everything around you is constantly active. Hamsters that have been recently purchased from a pet store or live in bright, noisy and generally busy surroundings, such as classrooms, are going to have a harder time sleeping during the day than animals who live in a nice, quiet home that is vacant all day when everyone is at work and school. Hamsters are genetically programmed to be nocturnal, but they can be kept awake by too much stimulation. Try putting your hamster's living environment in a calm, quiet area of your house and make sure children and pets leave him alone during the day. It may take some time, but most hamsters will re-adapt themselves to sleeping during the day and being awake at night when you let nature take its course.
The Quirky Hamster
Some pets are just quirky individuals. If your hamster lives in a dark, quiet environment during the day and is not bothered by anyone while he is sleeping but still chooses to be awake at night and alert during the day then he may just be an unusual individual. As long as your hamster is healthy and active then you do not have to be concerned over this abnormal behavior.
As long as your hamster is sleeping regularly and staying healthy, you have nothing to be concerned about. Never attempt to modify your healthy hamster's sleep habits, as trying to change your hamster's natural sleep pattern can cause stress and lead to health problems. If your hamster is irritable, loses weight, becomes aggressive or displays any other unhealthy behavior in addition to being awake during the day and asleep at night, you need to take him to the veterinarian.
A hamster that suddenly changes his sleeping patterns may have some other less obvious problem that is causing the change, such as stress. If you have recently made changes in your hamster's environment and his response is to begin sleeping at night and staying awake all day then you likely need to change things back to how they were originally.
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.