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Home > Hamsters > Do Hamsters Need Sunlight? Vet Approved Advice and Care Tips

Do Hamsters Need Sunlight? Vet Approved Advice and Care Tips

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Hamsters have been domesticated for the past 100 years or so. They are naturally nocturnal animals, which means that they sleep during daylight and are active at night. While this can lead some owners to believe that hamsters do not need sunlight, it is actually an important part of their lives. Sunlight naturally encourages hamsters to sleep, and if the natural cycle of day and night is interrupted it can cause serious problems for your hamster.

Therefore, while you don’t need to wake your hamster during the day, you shouldn’t prevent them from being exposed to sunlight when it naturally occurs. Similarly, a hamster’s cage should be dark when it is nighttime to ensure that they naturally wake up, eat, and get the exercise they need.

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Hamsters and Sunlight

Hamsters are relatively low-maintenance pets, certainly when compared to animals like cats and dogs. They don’t need walking, and mealtimes are much easier. They are also cute, many of them like to cuddle, and they are entertaining to watch as they go about their lives. However, hamsters do need good care. This means providing ample room, ensuring that they have physical and mental enrichment, and that they have appropriate food and water. It is also important to make sure that hamsters get the right amount of light at the right time.

These nocturnal creatures sleep during the day and are active at night. Because of this, they do have very sensitive eyes. This allows them to see in low light conditions, but it also means that they struggle to see properly in bright lights and daytime.

Ensure your hamster has light during the day. This lets them know that it is naturally time to sleep. Ideally, the light should be natural sunlight, but you should ensure that the cage is not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight may be too hot for your hammie and this can cause health problems.

Generally, a hamster will live according to the light cycle of their owner. If the hamster is in your or a child’s bedroom, they will sleep when it is light and wake up when it is dark. Some hamsters may also be active during the day, and it is generally safe to handle them if they do wake up and walk around during daylight hours.

syrian hamster playing
Image By: Johannes Menge, Shutterstock

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The 5 Hamster Care Tips

Hamsters are considered low-maintenance pets, and they are often used as a gateway pet to get children used to caring for and looking after pets, although they make excellent pets for adults, too. While they are easier to care for than dogs and cats, it is important that you provide good care for your hammie. Do your research, buy all the right equipment, and follow a good dietary routine. You can also follow these five tips to help provide suitable care for your little one.

1. Choose the Best Cage Location

Placement of your hamster’s cage is vital to ensuring it is safe and happy. You want somewhere that is near the family but not right in the middle of the action. Also avoid putting them too close to open windows and ensure that the cage is not in direct sunlight, but that it does get some indirect natural light during the day.


2. Don’t Pick Them Up Straight Away

When you first get your hammie home, it will need to acclimate to its new surroundings. Hamsters have acute senses of smell and hearing, and over time they will get used to the sounds and smells of the house. Avoid picking your hamsters up as soon as you get it home. Give your new pet a few days before you start trying to bond directly.

close up image of a wet hamster
Image By: dba87, Shutterstock

3. Offer a Varied Diet

Hamsters enjoy a varied diet. Buy good quality commercial food but supplement this with some tasty, healthy treats like carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers. Hamsters are omnivores. In the wild, they would eat some small insects, and you can feed mealworms as a treat, although these should be fed in moderation.


4. Handle Them Every Day

It is important that you bond with your hamster. After it has had the opportunity to settle into its new home and new location, you should try to handle your hammie every day. They will get used to your smell and become more comfortable in your presence. If you never take the hamster out or do so very rarely, it will be more inclined to bite at your fingers when cleaning.


5. But Handle Carefully

Hamsters are small and delicate, so you do need to be careful when handling them. Also ensure that children are supervised when they handle the hamster, especially when they pick them up out of the cage. The hold should be secure, but you shouldn’t squeeze the belly or back.

hamster on bedding
Image By: metalboy25, Pixabay

divider-food Should I Cover My Hamster’s Cage During the Day?

Hamsters need light because it naturally encourages them to sleep. Therefore, it is not a good ideal to cover the cage during the day.

Can Hamsters See in The Dark?

Like cats, hamsters are able to see in very low light conditions, although they are unable to see in total pitch black. Their eyes are capable of picking up small amounts of light and effectively magnifying this light to be able to make out shapes as well as movement.

Can I Leave My Hamster in The Dark?

Ideally, your hamsters should be given a day and night cycle so that they can naturally sleep and wake up just as they would in the wild. You shouldn’t add lights to the cage, because it is a fire hazard, and shock risk and may mess with the hammie’s sleep cycle. But you should ensure that the cage gets sunlight during the day, rather than covering the cage or providing darkness all the time.

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Summary

Hamsters are small pets that are easier to care for and maintain than animals like cats and dogs, but they do still need good conditions and care. Part of this care includes ensuring that the hamster has adequate lighting conditions. Hamsters are nocturnal, but they still need light during the day because this enables them to sleep and ensures that they remain healthy, both physically and emotionally. Do not put lights in the cage, don’t cover the cage during the day, and ensure that the cage is not sat in direct sunlight even during daylight hours.


Featured Image Credit: auenleben, Pixabay

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