Hamsters, rats, mice, and gerbils all can be described as nocturnal small pets and even though some are in fact crepuscular, they all like to sleep during the day. In this article, we’ll show you how best to care for your nocturnal critters, how to get the best large cages for big hamsters, and how to adapt to your pet’s sleeping schedule.
Types of nocturnal pets
Nocturnal pets are animals which are most active during the night and sleep during the day. They have evolved over thousands of years so that different predators can hunt in the same meadow or field for the same prey without getting into conflict with each other.
Of course, when it comes to pets that no longer live in the wild, they don’t have to compete for their food anymore but there’s no way to remove thousands of years of evolution, so you will have to learn how to live with a nocturnal pet and how to care for it.
Here we will present a list of some of the most popular nocturnal small pets, namely hamsters, gerbils, rats, and mice. While not all of these pets are strictly nocturnal, they do exhibit similar patterns and owners should be aware of their sleeping schedule before committing to one.
Hamsters are the most popular small pets to have, they like to live alone and they are most active during the night. They won’t disturb you too much during the day since as long as you give them toys that don’t make too much noise, the sound of them playing and munching in the cage won’t be too much for you to handle.
Much like humans, hamsters can also have their own sleep patterns, so it is hard to predict their sleeping schedule.
Gerbils too are very popular among small pet lovers and while they are bold and curious animals, they have a nocturnal behavior. While a new owner might rightfully believe that these pets are strictly nocturnal, their day is actually divided into varying cycles of play and sleep.
Mongolian gerbils, which are the most commonly available pet gerbils, are diurnal, which means that just like humans, they are most active during the day, but they do sleep quite frequently throughout the day. While they’re sleeping, they should be left alone so as not to anger them.
There are also gerbil species that are crepuscular, which can easily be mistaken for nocturnal. If an animal is crepuscular, it means that it will be most active around the periods of dawn and dusk. The most popular crepuscular pets are cats.
With that said, there are some species such as the fat-tailed gerbil which have actually become more active during the daytime instead of at dawn and dusk. If you want to get a gerbil and don’t want to be at odds with your pet, then Mongolian and fat-tailed gerbils are the ideal species to get.
Unlike hamsters or gerbils, rats do not have the same reputation for being lovable or cute, but nonetheless, they are very clean, cuddly, docile, and smart which are all characteristics owners seek in a pet. Just as hamsters, they are nocturnal, but due to their high intelligence many will, in fact, adjust to the owner’s schedule. With time they can become diurnal pets.
Finally, another nocturnal small pet that you can get is a mouse. Just as is the case with rats, getting a mouse for a pet can be a difficult sell, until you actually meet one. Mice are very adaptable, curious, and they can thrive in almost any environment which means that caring for them is very easy.
The main problem with mice is that they can get frightened easily by loud noises and seeing as they are nocturnal, they will need a peaceful environment to get the rest they need during the day.
How to care for nocturnal pets
If you do want to get a nocturnal pet, you will soon be surprised by how often and how much they sleep during the day. In fact, most owners of nocturnal pets will spend most of their time at odds with their pet since while the owner wants to play during the day, the pet only wants to sleep.
Conversely, during the night when the owner wants to sleep, the pet will be most active and if you are not used to this dynamic, the first few days or weeks might feel a bit awkward for you. That is not to say that you won’t have opportunities to play with your nocturnal pet since there will be plenty of occasions when your rat, hamster, or mouse will be active during the day.
It is important not to disturb the sleep of your pet no matter how much you want to play with it; this is why you should not get a nocturnal pet if you don’t like the idea of not seeing too much of your pet during daylight hours.
While the cage of your pet should be kept in a place where it can get a lot of human interaction so that it can get used with humans, it is also important to keep in an area where its sleep won’t be disturbed during the day. Because you will need to provide your nocturnal pet with a home that is cozy, bedding is essential.
Hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats all love to make their own little beds using bedding, and each pet prefers different raw materials, so make sure that you purchase the bedding that is right for them. Don’t give your pets fluffy bedding as it can be a big choking hazard.
Sleep is important for every living creature, and while the desire to play with your pet once you see it wiggling about in its sleep is understandable, you should always allow it to wake up naturally before you begin a play session.
A small nocturnal pet that is woken up from its sleep is more likely to get angry and bite the owner. Patience is crucial when caring for these pets, and while each critter has its own sleep pattern, you can expect to have lots of hours of playtime before you go to sleep.
Speaking of that, it is important to keep your pet entertained and provide it with outlets for independent play since you can’t spend your whole night playing together. There are numerous toys that you can get depending on the type of pet you have. A quick visit to your favorite pet or online shop will help you find tons of fun toys.
Should you change your pet’s sleeping pattern?
The main habit of nocturnal pets is that they often spend most of the day sleeping, and they are active mostly during the night or in the case of crepuscular animals during the dawn and dusk. Many owners wonder if they can change this pattern since they obviously don’t need to hunt or search for food anymore.
While you should never wake up a pet that is sleeping since it can lead to it becoming angry and tired, there are a few methods you can try to change your pet’s sleeping schedule to give you more time to spend together.
One way to encourage the critter to be more active early in the evening is to try and feed it at a slightly earlier time. Pets are more likely to wake up when they hear the sound of the owner putting food in the cage. If you stick to this schedule each day, it can lead to their sleeping schedule changing gradually.
Furthermore, you can try and reduce the amount of light your furry companion gets during the evening to make it wake up naturally. With the light in the room decreasing, the pet is more likely to think that it is time to wake up.