Do hamsters need sunlight? Now, as someone who keeps a few hamsters, I’ve had queries on how to provide an ideal environment for them, including whether they need Vitamin D.
Yes, Hamsters need sunlight, but it comes with a forewarning as they are very sensitive to light. Hamsters must be in a room with adequate natural light but not direct sunlight.
So here’s what I found out on light requirements for hamsters.
Do Hamsters Need Light During The Day?
Baby Hamsters have an inferior visual system. They are born blind and are regarded as photophobic.  Because of this, when exposed to light, they will experience photosensitivity.
Unlike most humans, pet hamsters don’t need light during the day. These creatures are nocturnal beings, which means they are active only at night. They will forage for food, mate, and conduct most of their other business when it’s dark outside.
At night, they feel safe as most predators that prey on them are asleep. Also, they can go further away from their burrow to forage for food without being noticed.
In captivity, a hamster’s ideal environment is one with a lot of natural light but not in direct sunlight. Natural light also ensures a stable temperature that’s not so hot and not so cold, which is perfect for your pet.
It will help if you avoid exposure to artificial lights, as this will disrupt your pet’s sleep schedule.
Hamsters need 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light to have a healthy lifestyle.
Bright artificial lights for a prolonged period become a stressful stimulus that can cause your hamster to be ill or even lead to death.
Can Hamsters See in The Dark?
No, hamsters can not see in complete darkness but can see in low levels of light (dim light).
You might be surprised to hear that hamsters can see in the dark. They can see relatively well, even if they are not as sharp as they would be if they could see in the light. So how do they do it?
A hamster’s vision consists of more rod cells and fewer cones. Cones are essential for visual acuity and color capability. And because of this, hamster vision is blurry. On the other hand, the rods enable them to see in lower light conditions.
This means that even if a hamster has adapted to its environment by living in darkness, it will still suffer from poor vision once exposed to bright light.
But it doesn’t mean that they can not see. Their panoramic vision is a binocular visual field. Meaning that the views overlap, giving them a great perception of depth.
Are Hamsters Allowed In The Sun?
Hamsters are nocturnal animals and spend most of their lives in darkness. During the day, they will sleep in their burrow.  At night, they will start to come out and forage for food.
Sometimes, hamsters will come out during the day if they threaten them. Predators such as snakes or other animals burrow into their tunnels. They will run out of their burrow for safety.
Hamsters in captivity don’t need sunlight, but they do need a source of heat and humidity. Their habitats must be humid and warm, as well as have a secure place for them to hide.
Being solitary creatures, the best way to keep your hamster happy is by giving her a special hiding place where she can stay safe from predators (including humans) and other animals, like cats or dogs.
You will notice that some hammy’s like to bask in the sun, which is excellent for that Vitamin D!
As a hamster owner, the best time for your furry friend to get that much-needed vitamin D is early morning and after dawn. This is because the light conditions at this time are pretty low.
Hamsters are accustomed to temperatures between 68-79 degrees. Direct sunlight significantly raises the temperatures making it unbearable for them.
Therefore, hamsters can go out into the sun, but it’s recommended that you let them in the sun infrequently.
Should I Cover My Hamsters Cage During The Day?
Hamsters don’t need total darkness to sleep. For that reason, covering their cage during the day is unnecessary.
While you don’t need to cover the hamster cage, it should not be placed in direct sunlight or close to the window where many lights will shine through.
The best place for their cage is far away from the windows, where it’s dim. Places like in a dark room or room with the blinds closed.
Finding the perfect spot for your pet’s cage is the ultimate step in ensuring you are providing a nurturing environment.
As crepuscular animals, hamsters usually see better low light levels than in complete darkness.
Another option would be to simply put a light cloth over their cage during the time of the day when the sun is at its brightest. This will help them get better sleep.
Pro Tip: Avoid keeping the hamster cage in your bedroom, as it will most likely keep you up by using the exercise wheel.
Is Direct Sunlight Bad for Hamsters?
When it comes to direct sunlight, it’s not good for them. It would help if you didn’t place them in direct sunlight or during the day when the sun is at its brightest.
Hamsters are very sensitive to light and cannot handle bright sunlight. These creatures could damage their eyes, cause them to become too hot, and interfere with their sleeping cycle.
Instead, a good time to bring them into the sun is during the early morning and evening. This is when the sun isn’t at its hottest and brightest. Also, this is when the hamsters will come out from their burrow in their natural habitat.
As for the hamster’s cage, it should also be kept away from direct sunlight. Placing the cage in direct sunlight will cause the cage to heat up and can cause the hamster to become hot. If they get too hot, they’ll eventually die from heatstroke.
There are ways that you can note if your hamster is experiencing heat stress. These include:
1. Lethargy. You will notice that your hammy will be slow and sluggish. They will have a poor appetite and might even show sudden weight loss.
2. Increased Thirst. This is one of the first easily noticeable signs of heat stress.
3. A limp Body. Your hamster will lie on its stomach and will show signs of fatigue.
How To Treat A Hamster with Heat Stroke at Home
Thankfully, you can take a few steps to ensure your hamster does not die from heat stroke.
This is immediate first aid before taking your pet to a vet.
1. Lower the temperatures of the surrounding. You can do this by taking the cage to the coolest part of the house. Somewhere where there is cool tiling is best.
2. Place your pet on a damp towel. Soak a towel in cool water and place your hamster on it. Avoid using cold water, as this can shock your pet.
3. Spray some water on the hamster. You can use a spray bottle to mist your pet’s fur, ears, and feet. This will lower its body temperature.
4. Rehydrate your pet. Give your pet some water or some water-based treats like cucumbers or watermelons.
Prevention is better than cure, so how do you prevent heat stress.?
Tips on How to Prevent Heat Stress
Here are some simple guidelines on how to prevent heat stress.
- Do not place your hamster’s cage near windows with direct sunlight.
- Have a well-ventilated cage
- Have a thermometer near the cage to monitor temperatures
- To ensure the cage is cool, put a marble tile so the hamster can lie on it to cool itself down.
- Ensure the water in the cage is cool. Replace any warm drinking water.
Also, check out the detailed tips for taking care of a hamster.
Can Hamsters Have a Nightlight?
As mentioned earlier, hamsters are nocturnal creatures. They are well-equipped for the nightlife. They don’t need great eyesight to move around. Hamsters have whiskers and a good smell to help them navigate and avoid danger.
At night, it’s best to keep them in a room with natural light. This means a window where they can see the moon and stars. Also, in their natural habitat, this is the environment they are used to seeing.
A study was done where hamsters exposed to bright light at night had them become very aggressive and changed their circadian clock. 
Because of this, their sleep schedule was disrupted, ultimately decreasing their lifespan by half.
Bright artificial light at night will confuse your hammy, as a light for them indicates time to sleep.
If you cannot place them close to a window or in a room with natural light, there should be no problems. They’ll still be able to navigate around without any light.
Trying to force your hamster not to sleep at night to fit into your lifestyle is detrimental to their health.
Do hamsters prefer hot or cold?
Neither. Hamsters prefer to be in room temperature conditions. They will be happier in mild conditions.
Do hamsters like to be by a window?
No, hamsters easily get heat stress and should not be placed near windows and direct sunlight.
So do hamsters need sunlight? No, Hamsters don’t need the sun to survive, but they need the sun to regulate their sleeping pattern.
The sunlight is needed to tell them when it’s time to wake up and go foraging for food, exercising, and mating.
So, what do you think about this topic? Do hamsters need sunlight? Let us know in the comments section!
- 1. PTITO M, KUPERS R. CROSS-MODAL PLASTICITY IN EARLY BLINDNESS. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience. 2005;04(04):479-488. doi:10.1142/s0219635205000951
- 2. Cervantes MC, Delville Y. Individual differences in offensive aggression in golden hamsters: A model of reactive and impulsive aggression? Neuroscience. 2007;150(3):511-521. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.09.034
- 3. Donnelly TM. Disease Problems of Small Rodents. Published May 18, 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7150271/
My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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