Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Should Hamsters Be in the Dark at Night?

i Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

When you introduce a furry new companion into your home, his lifestyle needs now become your business, whether they pertain to diet, exercise, sleep or anything else. While hamsters don't need to be walked several times a day, the wee rodents are indeed nocturnal creatures -- which means lights out at night, strictly.

Lights Off

Hamsters, unlike most humans, are nocturnal beings, which means that they conduct most of their normal business when it's dark outside. Hamsters typically eat their meals at night, and they also typically get their exercise at night. Darkness makes them feel energetic and ready to conquer their "days." Because of that, hamsters need to have the lights off at night. Their bodies require full darkness to understand that it's indeed time to be up and at things -- just like in the wild. Cater to your hamster's innate nocturnal demands by "hanging out" with him when he's awake and maintaining his cage and food needs after night falls.


Hamsters are wide awake all night, and it's only natural that by the time daytime rolls around, they're totally exhausted. Most hamsters use light hours for getting much-needed shut-eye. If you have children who want to play with a pet all day long, for example, a hamster might not be the most suitable animal for your specific lifestyle requirements. It isn't uncommon for hammies to feel rather grouchy when they're unable to sleep during the day or are roused unexpectedly. Some of them even bite when they're taken out of their daytime slumber, which is why it's crucial to keep children out of these situations. Always be considerate about a hamster's natural need for daytime sleep. If you aren't, it could lead not only to temperament issues with your hamsters, but also to possible health woes.

Keeping You Up

Because hamsters are up at night, things can get pretty noisy. If you always have to be up early for work or school, place your hamster's cage in a room away from your bedroom. Since hamsters have a penchant for running around enthusiastically on their exercise wheels for hours on end, putting them in their own environments is only sensible. Digging around is another common nighttime behavior for hamsters, and that too can get loud.


Aim to be as consistent with the lighting in your hamster's living environment as possible. Keep your hamster's "awake" and "sleep" time regimen predictable so as to not throw him off. Try to turn the lights off around the same general time each night, for example. Hamsters usually flourish when they receive 12 hours of lightness and 12 hours of darkness within 24 hour periods.

Types of Hamsters

While hamsters on the whole are nocturnal beings, certain types are often even more strict about it than others. Roborovski hamsters, for example, sometimes are energetic even during daylight. On the other hand, Syrian hamsters are often more serious about being nocturnal, and typically don't appreciate any daytime interplay. Hamsters are all individuals, however, so predicting this isn't really realistic. Just know that the lights need to be off at night.