Do Hamsters Hibernate

Do hamsters hibernate: No!! Hamsters are not true hibernators.

Hamsters originate in hot climates where it is very hot during the day, but can be cold at night. They can cope with temperature fluctuations of between 15-26c 60-78f fairly well without any adverse affect, but should ideally be in a range of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit they may go into a temporary hibernating state. This temporary hibernating state is called torpor: Torpor is a form of dormancy that is very similar to hibernation, the difference between hibernation and torpor is how long the animals sleep times vary and how much the animal's bodies slow down. Torpor is a state of regulated hypothermia in an Endotherm: An Endotherm is an animal that is capable of maintaining its body temperature above the temperature of the external environment. Torpor may last just a few hours and usually no more than a day. Some mammals that live through cold periods when food is hard to find especially very small mammals have the ability to let their body temperature drop. Hamsters can go into this hibernating state if they become too cold, they have retained the ability to do so even in captivity.
A true hibernation is a state of dormancy that allows an animal to go into a deep sleep for long periods of time to conserve energy during winter months when food is in short supply. During hibernation animals slow their metabolism to a very low level, this allows them to use their energy reserves stored as body fat at a much slower rate.

What does a hamster look like when hibernating

What does a hamster look like when hibernating? If you have a hamster in this sleeping (torpor) state it can appear that all life is extinct in the animal and appear life-less (dead). Because the animal is in a deep sleep it will not respond to sound, handling or touching. A hibernating hamster curls up into a ball in the nest to conserve as much heat as possible around the abdominal region. You will be able to pick the hamster up without him knowing it, and will not wake up on handling. But close observation will reveal the hamster’s whiskers (vibrissae) still twitch. The hamster still has to breath whilst in torpor, although very slowly, as close observation will reveal. The hamster must not be allowed to remain in this state and should be aroused slowly by gentle handling, warming, and stroking. After the arousal period it may be noted that hamster may be little groggy and trembling this will last only for a very short time.

hibernating hamster
Do Hamsters Hibernate

Why do animals hibernate?

Animals that are true hibernators or those that go to sleep temporary, (torpor) is to escape the cold and when hard to find food during the winter months. By going into this deep sleep it means the animal is able to survive the cold winter. But before hibernating an animal will eat more food than usual as this then is stored as excess fat. Their bodies will live off that fat as they sleep through the winter. The animal may appear life less (dead.) During hibernation the animal’s heartbeat and breathing rate slow down. This is when that stored fat that the animal piled on before the winter comes in handy. This stored fat will last them longer because their bodies slow down so much that they don’t need or use as much energy. This is how the animal can survive the entire winter on just the stored body fat. This is something that hamsters don’t do and therefore a hamster will die of starvation or hypothermia if allowed to continue any length of time in the state of hibernation.
In captivity there is no need for a hamster to hibernate as food and warmth is plentiful. Hamsters in captivity should ‘Not’ be allowed or encouraged to hibernate. To prevent a hamster from hibernating it is suggested to keep your pet warm, keep the temperature around 15°C min: (60°F) and keeping them well lit for at least 12 hours a day. Provide plenty of food and handle regularly. If the temperature drops below 5°C (40° F) they may go into temporary dormant state, torpid. A hibernating hamster may die of hypothermia or starvation if left in torpor for long periods of time.
Keep hamsters warm during the winter months. It may be an idea to leave them in the warmest room of the house if possible. The same room as you normally use during the day and evenings. Give them plenty of nesting material to make them a good nest. Using a heat lamp above the cage in cold rooms will help keep them warm.
Aestivation: or Estivation is another form of dormancy (sleep) similar to hibernation except this is used in the summer to protect the animals from high temperatures and drought and the potentially harmful effects of the season. Some animals may aestivate to conserve energy when their food and water supply is low.



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