We were considering a small pet for our family when, out of the blue, someone offered us a 6-month old Syrian hamster. The owner felt that their children weren't paying the pet enough attention, and was worried she (the hamster) might be bored and unstimulated due to lack of contact.
So we have an unexpected hamster. Her name is Luna.
We knew that hamsters were nocturnal, of course. But we just assumed that they slept for 8-10 hours through the middle of the day and would be awake at dawn and dusk. Luna seems to sleep an awful lot: she's asleep when we get up between 7-8am. Occasionally she half-wakes and grabs a snack, then sits in her nest with her eyes closed to eat it. She doesn't start to stir until 7pm and she's not properly awake until 8-9pm.
Our children are not that old, and they're both in bed before 9pm. So they don't get to see very much of Luna at all. My wife and I go to see her, give her some fresh food and water and some interaction before we go to bed. But that's not much stimulation for her. The kids are a bit sad they can't play with their new pet, and I'm worried she's going to lack attention with us as much as she did in her previous home.
We could wake her up, but it seems cruel. And we read somewhere that hamsters tend to bite if they're disturbed from their sleep.
It must be said that she doesn't seem bored. We've seen no evidence of repetitive behaviours and all the signs are she's very active at night - her cage is often trashed in the morning!
So, is it possible to encourage or train a hamster to have more periods of activity during the evening? And perhaps more importantly, if it is, is it cruel to do so? If it is ok, how should be we best go about it? Or do we have to accept she'll spend most of our time with us asleep?