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Taking care of a hamster requires a firm commitment to understanding their lifestyle demands. That involves a knowledge of everything from what kind of exercise they need to what kind of sleeping patterns they follow. Since hamsters are typically nocturnal critters, they're at their busiest amid the darkness of the night.
No Need to Wrap Their Cages
If you notice that your hamster seems to stay awake all through the night, don't be concerned. It's only natural for hamsters to not sleep at night, because they're nocturnal. Wrapping or covering your hamster's cage and making his environment darker won't encourage him to sleep. Darkness encourages these little rodents to be awake, after all.
Hamster Sleep Routine
Hamsters sleep during the daytime, often when the entire household is away, whether at school, work or on errands. They usually naturally retreat to slumber once noon rolls around. Once they sleep for a few hours, they usually get up for a little bit. They then typically fall asleep again only to get up in the evening -- and then stay up and at it all night. If you go to bed early and wake up early for the day, you might not see your hamster awake too often. Hamster schedules often work well with people who keep late hours. If you have to be up bright and early for your work, a hamster's use of his exercise wheel could prevent you from staying peacefully asleep.
"No" to Schedule Adjustments
Do not attempt to change your hamster's sleeping patterns to get them to line up with yours. This can be detrimental to your pet's health, and it can also lead to issues with his temperament. If a hamster doesn't receive sufficient daytime sleep, it could trigger him to behave in a grouchy manner, perhaps even nipping at everyone who tries to interact with him. Let your hamster follow his natural sleep routine. If he's allowed to sleep -- during the daytime -- in a calm, silent location, he should be good to go.
Hamsters don't need darkness to sleep, so it's also unnecessary to cover their cages in the daytime. They do, however, sometimes benefit from cage covers when they're in the middle of nerve-racking situations, whether a trip to the veterinary clinic or move to a new home. If you ever feel like your hamster needs some calming down, you can cover his enclosure with a soft and lightweight material, just as long as he can receive ample air circulation. A hamster in a car, for example, might feel a lot more relaxed if he has some solitude.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Welcoming Your New Hamster
- The Wild Side of Pet Hamsters; Jo Waters
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Hamsters
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Hamster Travel Tips
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Understanding Your Hamster's Sleep Schedule
- ASPCA: Hamster Care
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images