Are led lights safe for hamsters? (A Must Read!)

Hamsters are furry little fun and playful pets. They are nocturnal and do not need much space due to their size. If you are reading this, chances are you already own one, and because you love them so much, you are here to find out whether or not Led lights are safe for your furry little buddy.  

Are led lights safe for hamsters? Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they fair better in the dark, exposing them to light will make it hard for them to see, and they already have poor eyesight, so sadly, it’s probably not the best thing to put a LED light on top of their cage. 

Ideally, the only light they should receive is natural light or very dim yellow or red-tinted light, which is sufficient enough to allow you to observe some of their nightly activities without much disturbance. 

Do hamsters need light at night?

Hamsters do not need night light because their vision is well adapted to seeing in the dark. They fair well in darkness because they are nocturnal.    

As you previously learned, hamsters do not want any light during the night. You will be shortening their lifespan if you expose them to light sources for prolonged periods. Overexposure to light will distort the balance of their nocturnal circle. So you must avoid exposing them to light sources when they are in their cage or habitat.

How can you see your hamster at night?

We have established that hamsters do not need light at night, but how can you keep an eye on them since you’re human and require light to see at night? You can still use light, however, you must use a light source that would not disturb them. You could use the following ways to watch the hamsters.

Blue Light Emitted from LED Lights Can Lead to Depression in Hamsters

In a study involving hamsters, researchers from Ohio State University discovered that blue light followed by white light had the worst effects on mood-related experiments.

However, hamsters exposed to red light at night demonstrated far lesser depressive-like symptoms and changes in the brain linked to depression, compared to those that experienced blue or white light.

Furthermore, the experiment also revealed that the only hamsters that fared better than those exposed to red light were those that had total darkness at night.

The researchers also established the fact that these findings can also be linked with humans, particularly those who work night shifts, making them susceptible to mood disorders, said Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at The Ohio State University.

Their findings suggest that the use of red light in place of white light may not have some of the negative effects on their health,” Nelson said.

In another experiment, researchers examined the role of specialized photosensitive cells in the retina — called ipRGCs — that don’t have a major role in vision but are responsible for light detection and communication with the part of the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian clock, a system that tells the body when to go to sleep. 

The researchers discovered that these light-sensitive cells also send messages to parts of the brain that controls mood and emotion.

According to co-author Tracy Bedrosian, a graduate student at Ohio State who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute, He opines “As a result of exposure to night light, the mood-regulating parts of the brain may begin to receive signals during the day when they shouldn’t”. 

What we experience as different colors of light is nothing but varying wavelengths. However, the ipRGCs don’t appear to react to light of different wavelengths in the same way. When we compare the sensitivity of these cells to light, the outcome is that they are most sensitive to blue wavelengths and least sensitive to red wavelengths,” Nelson said. “We wanted to see how exposure to these different color wavelengths affected the hamsters.”

In yet another experiment, researchers exposed adult female Siberian hamsters to four weeks each of night light with dim white light (similar to that found in normal light bulbs) or dim blue light, no light, and dim red light.  

The hamsters were subjected to another test, in which researchers tested for depression-like symptoms using sugar water. The test evaluates the hamster’s mood by observing their interest in the sugar water, which they enjoy. If the hamsters drink less-than-normal amounts of sugar water — a treat they normally enjoy — that is seen as evidence of a mood problem.

The results were astounding, the hamsters that were kept in the dark at night drank the most sugar water, with those exposed to red light stacking behind. On the other hand, those exposed to dim white or blue light at night reportedly drank a smaller amount of the sugar water than the others.

The tests were followed by an examination of the hippocampus regions of the brains of hamsters.

The results revealed a reduction density of dendritic spines in those that spent the night in dim blue or white, compared to the ones that lived in total darkness or were exposed to red light. Dendritic spines are hairlike growths on brain cells that are used to send chemical messages from one cell to another.

Red LED light instead of blue or white light

You can monitor your hamsters at night with the help of red light. Hamsters are comfortable in red light settings, so you can safely go about monitoring them with red light.

Besides, hamsters would not react to the red light as they would not see it. This allows you to monitor them without disturbing their vision. 

In the presence of red light, they will feel as though they are in the dark. 

Use the cameras (Night vision Cameras )

If you can’t lay your hands on any red lights or do not want to use red lights at all, you can still make use of cameras in your hamster’s cage. There are decent night-vision cameras on the market that you can choose from.

So, now you know what options are if you want to monitor your hamsters during the night. Whether it is red light or cameras, the most important thing to keep in mind is that both options will not disturb them in any way.

How do hamsters see things at night?

The visual system of hamsters is mostly made up of rod cells and a very small number of cones. Since cones provide color capability and general visual acuity, they tend to have blurry eyesight. The rods provide them with the ability to see in low-light conditions.

They don’t have any issues whatsoever in spotting things at night. Besides, they leave their scent as they move, and it would help them to figure out their way back to their home. 

Should hamsters sleep in the dark?

Being nocturnal creatures, they tend to be more active at night, so, it is very unlikely that they will sleep at night. What you’ll find them doing at night, is searching for food and doing some exercises. 

Darkness means fun time for hamsters, therefore, it should not come as a surprise to you if you encounter your hamster running a wheel or playing with toys at night. As earlier mentioned, they are more active at night and sleep in the daytime. The darkness means an energetic time for them

What LED color light is best for hamsters?

Based on their visual attributes, red light is considered the best color light for hamsters. Because red light almost feels like darkness to them, they thrive under red light and it would not badly affect them as the other colors do. Other light color shades such as blue and white have proven to be unhealthy light sources for them, as these light colors can distort their circadian rhythm or nocturnal circle. 

Do hamsters see in color?

So do hamsters see in color? And if so, what colors can hamsters see?

The number of colors an animal can see is dependent on a variety of factors, ranging from how the brain processes the information and the number of cones present in the animal’s eyes. 

Studies on Syrian hamsters have shown their eyesight is monochromatic. Meaning they see and perceive the entire color spectrum as one color. This makes it difficult to evaluate just exactly how many colors an animal can see. 

Further studies reveal that hamsters did respond to blue and green stimuli. Therefore, researchers are led to believe that hamsters may be capable of seeing these colors, though faintly. This is possible with the help of a light-sensitive pigment in the retina called rhodopsin

Rhodopsin multiples in the rod cells during dark periods, this process is made possible by combining Vitamin A with protein.

The pigment then absorbs the most visible colors, by converting them into light energy. However, it is not equally reactive to all colors; it is most responsive to green. 

Most nocturnal animals cannot see red, they may perceive blue, but faintly. 

Leading research on the subject suggests that hamsters see through photopigments other than rhodopsin. This leaves us with the conclusion that they may be able to see ultraviolet light!

Can Hamsters See UV?

Scientists have strong reasons to believe that hamsters can see UV light. In one experiment, Syrian hamsters reacted to ultraviolet radiation as if it is visible to them. These findings lead scientists to believe that they may have additional photopigments that allow them to be sensitive to UV light.

You may be wondering why seeing UV light would be any good for hamsters. Preception to UV light would enable them to see urine marks better under ultraviolet light…but so could predators.

There are also reasons to believe that different animal parts reflect different amounts of UV light. If the statement holds any truth, then certain body poses would make hamsters less visible to predators that can also see by UV light.

Since UV light is more abundant during the day and twilight hours. Hamsters being able to see UV will fair better navigating at those times when they are awake.  

Should I leave a light on for my hamster during the day?

There is no need to leave an LED light on for your hamster during the day, they prefer to have limited light. If you’ve observed them long enough, you’d realize that they are more active at night. Whenever the daylight is on, they tend to get tired and sleep. 

Exposing them to light during the day is not recommended, as doing so will leave them stressed, depressed, etc. Besides, their sleep would be obstructed too.

Do hamsters need a light in their cage?

Hamsters do not need light in their cages, they are perfectly fine with natural sunlight. They are very sensitive to changes in light conditions, they would prefer to have natural sunlight only. 

Natural sunlight will help your hamster to stay healthy and happy. Always keep in mind that too much light is bad for hamsters. 

However, do not make the mistake of thinking you need to cover the cage during the day, hamsters still require some level of light during the day.

While they may be inactive during the day, they still prefer to know what goes on in and around their cage. 

Besides, there must be proper ventilation in the cages as well. Proper ventilation will help your hamster stay cool and fresh, which is good for your hamster’s health. 

How Much Light Do Hamsters Need?

For healthy growth, hamsters need 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light. Please keep in mind that natural sunlight is best for them. However, as mentioned in previous sections, they can also thrive under red light. 

In addition, I recommend exposing them to natural, indirect light as opposed to artificial led lights or LEDs. But remember, overexposure to light will disturb their nocturnal behavior. 


Are Fairy Lights Safe For My Hamsters? 

While you can decorate your hamster’s enclosure with fairy lights, they are a problem if wrongly installed. However, you can minimize the risks by taking preventive measures or by using some other decoration lighting options available in the market.

Are you planning to use these lights while they’re asleep? if so, there is no need for that, as you may cause them more harm than good. Hamsters prefer to be in darkness. 

These little creatures are built for the dark, they rely on their smell and sense of hearing to navigate at night.   

Finally, if you still want to decorate your hamster’s enclosure with lights, then I recommend that you go for rope lights instead of fairy lights.