Hamster Hibernation: Everything You Need To Know About Your Pet

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 24, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Cute teddy bear hamster outside eating.

Around the time of winter, you may notice your hamster sleeping a lot.

They are, in fact, entering the stage of hamster hibernation. The metabolic rate of your pet hamsters is also observed to be slow.

Due to this, a pet owner of a hamster may worry whether the hamster is hibernating or if it is sick or dead. One way you can ensure the latter isn’t the case is by checking your hamster's temperatures and if they are breathing.

When hamsters hibernate in winter, their breathing becomes very slow, taking one breath in a span of two minutes. This deep sleep can also be checked by observing their body temperature or heartbeat.

This can be done by placing your thumb and forefinger on either side of a hamster’s chest which is just above their elbows. In a minute or two, you may be able to feel a pulse. If your hamster is unresponsive or rigid in the summer months, it may have died. Consult your vet to see about this.

Let’s keep reading to know more about hamsters hibernating in detail! Afterward, do check about hamster lifespan and hamster teeth.

Do hamsters hibernate?

Torpor is a state similar to hibernation that is seen to be experienced by animals such as hamsters. Torpor is similar to hibernation in that it is a protracted response to cold temperatures, although it lasts for a shorter amount of time.

Your hamster is most likely in torpor if they sleep for hours or even days at a time, especially in cooler conditions. Some specialists will use the terms torpor and hibernation interchangeably because they are similar processes.

Surprisingly, not all hamster species exhibit the same forms of hibernating behavior. European hamsters are true hibernators in the wild, sleeping for significant periods of time during the wild winter months.

Hibernation is less common in dwarf hamsters. Syrian hamsters are permissive or facultative hibernators, which means they do not hibernate under normal settings but can do so if the environmental conditions need it.

Female hamsters also hibernate for a lesser amount of time than male hamsters. Knowing the hibernation patterns for your hamster's breed and sex can help you spot periods of torpor or hibernation at home.

You'll need to take a good look at your hamster's environment to see if they are in a condition of torpor. Temperature is the most important aspect of hamster hibernation behavior.

Hamsters prefer temperatures between 65-75 F (18.3-23.8 C). Your hamster may become too cold and go into torpor if the temperature falls below this level.

Make sure your hamster's cage is kept warm – but not too hot! The environment of the cage should be kept with lots of fresh, dry bedding.

Your pet hamster should be kept in a well-ventilated space along with its bedding, but be wary of chilly draughts from windows or air conditioning systems, which might make the room too cold for your pet hamster.

How long do hamsters hibernate?

A hamster will usually only hibernate for two to three days. As a result, if they do not receive enough water, food, warmth, or light, they may remain in the torpor hibernating condition for an extended period of time.

The longer they are dormant, the more harmful to the animal. You can tell if your hamster is hibernating in a variety of ways.

They may be in hibernation if you notice they're not breathing as swiftly as usual or if their body is limp when you pick them up. When you touch them, you may notice that they are colder. Hibernation is a sleep-like state that hamsters go into when it gets too chilly for them and their heart rate drops.

So, once they've settled down to 'sleep', they'll wake up when it's considerably warmer, and they'll be able to eat outside. The metabolism of a hibernating hamster is extremely slow, and it consumes very little energy.

Hibernation is a survival mechanism used by a variety of species. When the cold weather arrives, animals will gather food and construct a warm, safe shelter to survive the winter.

They hibernate curled up and awaken in the spring or when the weather warms up. The animal's habitat must be secure, either from predators or from being flooded or covered. If this occurs, the animal will be unable to defend itself because it is in a deep sleep.

When do hamsters hibernate?

Even the most attentive hamster owners make mistakes from time to time when it comes to their pets' care.

Forgetting to close a window on a windy day or failing to turn on the heating when a cold front approaches might result in situations that are unpleasant for humans but potentially fatal for your hamsters. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the recommended temperature range for a Syrian hamster is 65-75 F (18.3-23.8 C).

In order to conserve energy, a Syrian hamster will go into hibernation if temperatures drop rapidly or fall below 65 F (18.3 C). Hibernation slows your hamster's heart rate and conserves their energy in order to enable them to better handle weather that they aren't normally used to.

You don't want your Syrian hamster to go into hibernation as a hamster owner since he could perish from exposure to freezing temperatures or dehydration.

Dwarf hamsters are not known to hibernate, despite their cold-climate origins. If you ever see hamsters hibernate with eyes open, it doesn’t mean that they are dead.

Your hamster's open eyes aren't always a sign that he or she is alive. They can sleep with their eyes open, half-closed, or closed entirely. If the body of your hamster is as stiff as a board and you can't flex the limbs, it's most likely rigor mortis, which means your pet, has unfortunately died.

How to care for your hamster in hibernation?

There are a few things that hamsters in hibernation are at risk of. Some of the symptoms are mistaken for the deceased.

Your pets are at risk of dehydration when they hibernate. Because hamsters do not consume a lot of water before hibernating, they will require a lot of water when they wake up, but only in little, controlled amounts.

You'll need to do a few things once your hamster has woken up. Your hamster will first become dehydrated as a result of not drinking any water so you will need to provide them with clean, fresh water.

They will drink from their own water bottle if you have one. If your hammy is still moving slowly, you can give them a few drops of water every few minutes with an eyedropper or syringe.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for hamster hibernation then why not take a look at beaver teeth, or why do bugs like light too.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

Read full bio >