Hamsters are among the most popular pets in the world. Their cute appearance and low-maintenance nature have made them the favorites of many households. However, while most people are capable of taking care of a hamster’s basic needs, there are many unknowns that hamster-owners face. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at hamsters and light.
More specifically, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at whether they like being in the dark or if they need light to feel more comfortable. Let’s find out!
Do hamsters like the dark? 🌙
All hamster breeds are nocturnal animals. What this means is that they’re awake at night and sleep during the day. They evolved to have a sleep schedule like this because they’re prey animals. Being awake at night makes it easier for them to hide from predators under the cover of darkness.
Since hamsters have evolved specifically to be awake during the night, we can logically conclude that they like the dark. It makes them feel safe and secure from danger.
However, this does not mean that they need to be kept in the dark 24 hours a day. They need a balance of light during the day, and darkness during the night to thrive.
Do hamsters need a light at night? 💡
Hamsters do not need a light at night. Do not make the mistake of putting a bright light near their cage during the nighttime. You might think that you’re doing your hamster a favor to help them see at night, but you’re actually doing the opposite.
You see, when hamsters see that it’s light outside their cage they instinctively start to feel sleepy. After all, they’re nocturnal animals that sleep during the day. Putting artificial light near their cage in the night makes their body think that it’s the middle of the day while it’s really not! This can really mess with their circadian rhythm and prevent them from sleeping properly.
Rather than giving your hamster artificial light, try opening the curtains to let in natural moonlight. This will be sufficient for your hamster to see what he’s doing, but will not disturb their day/night cycle.
Do hamsters need sunlight? ☀️
Similar to how you shouldn’t artificially light up your hamster’s enclosure during the night, you also shouldn’t artificially darken it during the day. Artificially darkening your hamster’s enclosure during the day, for instance by covering their cage with a blanket, will have the same results as lighting it in the night.
It will confuse your hamster’s day/night rhythm because the darkness will make them think it’s nighttime, and thus time to be awake.
It’s ideal for hamsters to have sunlight during the day, and darkness during the night. It’s the natural way for them to be.
Nevertheless, while they need sunlight for them to know that it’s daytime, you should not put their cage in direct sunlight as this can lead to overheating.
The ideal light/dark situation for hamsters
So, the ideal light and dark situation for hamsters is as follows: They need darkness during the night, without artificial light, and sunlight during the day. The best way to achieve this is by placing their cage in a room that has plenty of natural light and that does not use too much artificial light.
That way, everything will happen automatically: during the day it will be bright outside, while during the night it will be dark. There will be no need to cover their cage during the day or give them a light at night.
It’s actually really simple, just let nature do the work for you and the situation is ideal! If you do keep them in a room where artificial light is used during the night, it’s a good idea to turn them off at around the same time every day. This creates regularity for your hamster, which is beneficial for their sleep.
Altering your hamster’s sleep schedule
You might think that it’s a good idea to alter your hamster’s natural circadian rhythm so that they’re awake during the day and asleep at night. After all, most humans live that way and it would give you more time to spend with your hamster, right?
It’s definitely not recommended to do this. It is very difficult to successfully achieve this because you would have to accurately mimic the natural light and dark cycle by putting them in the dark during the day and giving them artificial light during the night.
Trying to achieve this will most likely result in a grumpy and unhappy hamster because they can’t adapt to their new schedule.
Not to mention that it’s not fair to your hamster to have to change millions of years of evolution just to adapt to your schedule.
So, there you have it, all the information you need regarding hamsters and light. As we’ve discovered, the situation is actually quite simple. Hamsters enjoy the dark because they’re nocturnal creatures, but that does not mean that you should cover their cage during the day. The natural balance that nature provides, light during the day, and darkness at night, is ideal for your hamster to thrive.
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