Hamsters are naturally nocturnal, meaning they like to sleep during the daytime and stay awake during the night. Bringing a hamster into your home can mean your own sleep is interrupted if they are up all night or that you will have less time to interact with your hamster if you are on a normal daytime schedule. While not often recommended, it is possible to train your hamster to sleep at night so you will have more interaction with it throughout daylight hours.
- Skill level:
Build a good rapport with your hamster. Try hand feeding your hamster often and playing with it on a daily basis. Once your hamster gets used to you, it will begin to enjoy your company and look forward to seeing you everyday. This will make the process of changing their sleep habits more enjoyable and less stressful.
Remove light during the daylight hours. You will have to trick your hamster into believing that it is night when it is day. This can be done in several ways, such as using light-blocking curtains, placing their cage in a closet or even utilising a blanket as a light shield over their cage.
Maintain the exact same schedule. Changing a hamster's sleep schedule to the complete opposite would be much like trying to change your own to the complete opposite; it is a process that would take habitual scheduling. Ensure that you stick to the exact schedule each time you block light from the hamster during the day. Changing this schedule can jeopardise the entire process and sabotage your plans completely.
Remain patient throughout the training phase. Your hamster may take several months to get used to its new schedule. Encourage your hamster to stay away during the day by interacting with it regularly. Activities such as feeding your hamster treats, placing it in an exercise ball or taking it out of its cage can help. Ensure that all rooms the hamster will venture into remain absent of heavy lighting from the outside.
Tips and warnings
- If you must change your hamster's sleep schedule, try to partially change it so that it is up only during the time you will be home to interact with it. This will be less stressful for your hamster.
- Since hamsters are naturally nocturnal, changing their sleep habits can be hazardous for their health, resulting in shorter lifespans, increased irritability and lowered immune system function.
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