When purchasing any pet, it’s important to know what behaviours to expect from them. This allows you to prepare yourself to be a better owner, and from then on, develop a comprehensive means of taking care of them.
Of course, it can also prevent you from encountering nasty surprises, or worrying if the pet behaves outside of your expectations. After all, you are caring for a little ball of pure natural instinct, and so it can be hard to predict them even with the most knowledge going in.
Hamsters, while small and unassuming, are actually quite active animals and are a joy to take care of. That being said, many questions can still linger, particularly thanks to their classification as rodents.
A good question some people may ask is ‘do hamsters hibernate?’ If so, this can bring up questions of how to feed and prepare them or how to prepare their environment (and clean it) without disturbing their need for long-form rest.
In this post, we hope to answer these questions, and provide some worthwhile caring advice to that degree.
The Confusion You May Have
Hamsters do hibernate. However, it can sometimes be hard to tell if they’re hibernating, and if they’re doing that for the right reasons, or if they are dead in their cage.
It’s quite clearly crucial for you to know the difference.
Hamsters do not have hibernation cycles year-round. In fact, they hibernate when the temperature becomes too cold for them to naturally deal with. This preserves their energy that their body can use for keeping them warm, as well as keeping them in a stable, nested spot.
Most hamster breeds will do this when the temperature drops around or below 18-19c. It’s important to know that, because even if you’re the most caring owner in the world, you cannot be blamed for leaving a window open, leaving a fan on at night, or simply not providing them with the insulation necessary to stay warm in winter.
The confusion here is assessing if the hamster has died, or if it’s in hibernation mode. Hamsters can look completely lifeless when in hibernation mode, and their feet or nose can be cold to the touch. Their very shallow breathing can be hard to detect.
Furthermore, only a few hours of sub-optimal temperatures and a lack of food can be enough for them to engage in hibernation mode, the preparation for which involves digging a thorough nest or wrapping themselves (to the extent that they can), in bedding materials.
What to Do when your hamster is hibernating
If your hamster has been hibernating, or to check that they’re not passed away, it’s important to care for them. Taking them to a veterinarian is a good idea. They will be able to assess if the damage is too great, or if they can be cared for. Warming them up gently, in a warm cloth, raising the temperature of the room, and using an eyedropper for water if they come around can be a great idea.
With this advice, we hope you can more easily care for your hamster, even if they’re in the grips of hibernation.