Hamsters’ tubes are replicas of the tunnels they instinctively build in their natural environment. Wild hamsters use those tunnels for protection against predators and threats, such as extreme weather.
They make tunnels their home by filling them with bedding, storing food, and sleeping there. These tubes provide a way for hamsters to do these things in their cage, where they can’t usually dig deep tunnels.
Considering wild hamsters sleep in their tunnels, it’s not unusual for captive hamsters to sleep in their tubes. They do so because the tubes make them feel safe and secure.
Why Do Hamsters Sleep in Their Tubes?
Every hamster has a preference regarding where it sleeps. Hamsters will find an area of their cage where they can sleep, knowing they’re safe and won’t be disturbed by noises, light, or other hamsters.
For some hamsters, this involves sleeping curled up in the corner of their cage nestled into their bedding. For others, it involves sleeping underneath their running wheel.
Some hamsters prefer to sleep in their tubes. Aside from being tired, there are usually other reasons why hamsters rest in tubes, including the following:
Safe and Secure
Hamsters in the wild don’t sleep out in the open because they’d be an easy catch for predators. Instead, they dig tunnels and sleep there, hidden away.
Caged hamsters have those same instincts, even if they’ve lived in captivity their whole lives. Sleeping in their tubes gives them that same sense of security and safety.
Dark and Hidden
Since hamsters usually sleep during the day, they may choose to sleep in their tubes because it’s a dark area where the daylight won’t disturb them.
According to the University of Bern, hamsters that were given options on where to sleep most always chose sheltered areas that blocked out light and kept them hidden.
Most burrow-dwelling animals studied, including hamsters, preferred dark areas to sleep in.
Depending on where the hamster’s cage is located, noises may bother them during the times when it’s trying to sleep. Going into its tube may muffle the sounds so it can sleep more easily.
You could try experimenting by ensuring the area near your hamster’s cage stays quiet during the day and see if your hamster finds another sleeping area.
If a hamster continues to sleep in the tubes, it’s the most comfortable place it has found.
New and Shy
If your new hamster stays in its tube constantly, even to sleep, it could be because it’s shy or scared of its new environment.
Being moved from an environment it knows into a new and unfamiliar environment can be a significant change for a hamster, especially if it’s recently been taken away from its mother.
Give it time to grow accustomed to its new cage and your company. That way, your hamster will likely start to emerge from its tube, at least to play and eat.
Is it Safe for Hamsters to Sleep in Tubes?
Wild hamsters live in underground tunnels, so most tubes aren’t a problem. However, there are things to be aware of concerning tubes so that you can protect your hamster from harm, including:
There are so many hamster tubes on the market and so many ways to create DIY hamster tubes that you may assume that any of them will suffice. However, hamster tubes aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions.
Some hamster tubes are designed with dwarf hamsters in mind, and others are designed larger to suit Syrian hamsters. You need to pay close attention to the size measurements of the tubes to ensure you’re getting one that will work for your hamster.
Even if you get one the right size for your hamster to run through, it could get stuck in the tube once it curls up to sleep with its bedding. If the tube is too small, it could get stuck on its first run-through.
Store-bought tubes often have ventilation holes already in them, but sometimes the holes are too small to allow for proper ventilation for a sleeping hamster.
The provided ventilation holes are sufficient for hamsters playing in their tubes but not necessarily for those sleeping in the tubes.
You can resolve this by increasing the size of the ventilation holes or coaxing the hamster out of the tube to sleep somewhere else, which may be a battle you won’t win.
If you’re using DIY tubes, equip them with properly sized ventilation holes. It’s also a good idea to ensure the tubes are much larger than your hamster.
Tubes that are larger allow for airflow around your hamster while it’s all curled up in the tube. Improper airflow and ventilation could cause your hamster friend to suffocate while sleeping.
If your hamster prefers to sleep in its tube, ensure its cage isn’t in direct sunlight.
If your hamster stays in its tube to sleep and the sun hits it, the tube could overheat and make it very sick from heat exhaustion or dehydration.
Why Is My Hamster Filling Its Tube with Bedding?
Hamsters sometimes show unusual behaviors, which are part of their natural characteristics. One of these behaviors is filling their tube with bedding.
There are several reasons why you might see your hamster shoving bedding in its tube, including:
Building a Nest
According to the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research, hamsters’ instinct is to nest.
Providing hamsters with necessary nesting materials allows them to create microenvironments and facilitate burrowing and shelter-building behavior.
Watching your hamster fill its tube with bedding isn’t unusual. Your hamster is building a nest to feel secure and comfortable.
It’s suggested that when you clean your hamster’s cage, avoid disturbing its nest.
If you must completely remove everything from the cage to give it a thorough clean, you should put some old but still clean nesting materials in with the new bedding.
Having nesting materials that look the same and have familiar scents will give your hamster comfort.
Your hamster may be filling its tube with bedding because it’s attempting to create a protective barrier between itself and whatever might be lurking outside the tube.
When hamsters dig their tunnels in the wild, they’ll often block off the entryway with various materials so nothing can get in or invade their space.
They do the same thing with their tubes. There may not be an obvious reason for doing it, but something makes them feel insecure.
Don’t be surprised if your hamster has blocked off the entryways into its tube and is hiding out there.
Check on it to ensure the hamster doesn’t get stuck there. If it hasn’t seemed to come out of the tube in a while, you should unblock the tube and check on your hamster.
It’s a well-known fact that hamsters like to hoard their food. Well, sometimes they like to hide their food. If they fear something will steal their food, they may hide it to keep it safe.
Your hamster may have taken food into its tube and is now using bedding to create a barrier around the food to protect it from being taken by others.
Just know that your hamster has food in the tubes. You may need to clean it out at some point to prevent any of the food from going rotten.