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Gerbils & Hamsters/Syria hamster sleeping problems?


Hello,  I just brought home few days ago a very cute and friendly Syrian hamster. I bought one of those plastic cages with wiring,  that has one tube that leads to this top compartment where it should generally sleep. He's a healthy guy,  eats and drinks fine, runs on his wheel all night,  but there is something odd about how he sleeps.  I've noticed him a few times throughout the day he runs on his wheel and falls asleep on it,  sometimes with his eyes open.  He doesn't move at all and when I put my hand near him he instantly jerks back as if I woke him.  So I figured maybe he's exhausted from running.  When he actually goes to sleep though,  instead of sleeping in his top compartment or making his bed anywhere,  he sleeps upside down in the tube! I first thought he was stuck but he knows his way up and down. Is this normal behavior at all?  Should I be worried and change his cage/take down the tube?

Also,  the other day I noticed there was a large amount of bedding stuck in the middle of his tube and he was at the top,  he could have killed himself because there's no food and water at the top.  Why did he put the bedding there?  

I would really appreciate an answer for his behavior,  it's getting me worried.  

Hi Hannah

Thanks for your question.  Hamsters can sometimes behave in strange ways and what is normal for one might not be normal for another.

I personally prefer wire cages with platforms rather than tubes because hamsters do have a habit of packing tubes with food and bedding and  as a result they can get stuck or cut themselves off from water etc. It sound like your hamster doesn't feel safe going into the upstairs part of his cage. Do you have a wire one that you could try him in to see if his behaviour changes? Sleeping in his wheel isn't that uncommon but he should snap out this at some stage. Does he have a house within his cage? If not it would be worth getting something for him to sleep in but avoid any plastic containers as they attract condensation. The best are natural houses such as a coconut shell or you can get 'snack shaks' which are edible houses.

As you are worried by him getting trapped in a tube I would definitely see if you can either remove these , or change the cage completely for a wire one - with or without a platform. You might also want to get him a hamster exercise ball that he can run in during the evening. They offer a different type of exercise rather than continuous running which is exhausting. If you get one do tape over any joins as they have a habit of opening if they bang into any furniture. He might fall asleep in it but mine all love having a run in them each evening. I also find they improve the hamsters  confidence.

I hope this helps you.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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