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Jet Lag in Hamsters

Jet Lag in Hamsters

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Science Fair Project Description

This science fair project was conducted to find out how jet lag affects behavior patterns. The science project involved hamsters exercising on a wheel.
Complexity level:9
Project cost ($):40
Time required:1 day to prepare, 10 days for the science project experiment
Material availability:Easily found
Safety concerns:Handle the hamsters with care, and ensure that you wear gloves.


Hamsters do suffer from jet lag and will take time to adjust.


Jet lag

Our daily activities follow a regular routine to a lesser or greater extent. The time that we wake up, take our meals, conduct our daily activities and even our nap times follow certain fixed patterns. Our bodies become quite accustomed to these routines which become "programmed" into our body clock.

However, when we travel to destinations located in different time zones, our bodies become unsynchronized with the new time. The natural rhythm of sleep, eating and work will be disturbed. People usually take a few days to get accustomed to a new time zone.

Some of the symptoms associated with jet lag include headaches, the inability to sleep, a lack of appetite, and even depression. This happens because our body clocks are also programmed to regulate our sleep, food digestion, blood pressure levels, body temperatures and hormone secretions.

Scientific Terms

Body clock, jet lag, blood pressure, body temperature and hormone secretions.


The materials required for this science project experiment:
- 2 closed rooms
- 2 hamster cages with exercise wheels
- 10 hamsters
- 2 lights (with automatic timers)
- 2 dimmed red lights
- 2 stopwatches
- 4 assistants


1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the  time zone. The dependent variable is the average amount of time the hamsters spent on the exercise wheels. The constants (control variables) are the number of hamsters used and the length of exposure to daylight.

2. This science project will require 24 hours of observation of the hamsters. You will need to take turns/shifts with your assistants, to stay with the hamsters.

3. The hamsters are divided into 2 groups of 5 hamsters each and they are kept in separate cages. The cages are labeled  A and  B. For the first 2 days, the cages are kept in the same room and the lights are left on for 12 hours and then shut off for 12 hours. When the lights are off, the dimmed red light is turned on. The average amount of time spent by the hamsters on the exercise wheel per day, is calculated and recorded in the table below.

Average time on the wheel = Total time the wheel is used / 5 hamster (minutes)

4. On the third day, when the lights are switched off after 12 hours, the hamsters in cage A are transferred to another room. They are allowed to stay in the dark for 1 hour before the lights are turned on again for the next 12 hours (during whichthe dimmed red light will be left on). The hamsters in cage A will follow this new schedule for the next 8 days. The average amount of time spent by the hamsters on the exercise wheel, per day, is calculated and recorded.

5. The hamsters in cage B will follow their original lighting schedule and the average time spent by the hamsters on the exercise wheel per day is calculated and recorded.



It is observed that the hamsters in cage A spent less time on the exercise wheel from the third day onwards ,when they were introduced to the new time schedule. They however, recovered to their normal level of activity from the ninth day onwards.

Hamster Group

Average time spend by hamster on the wheel (minutes)











A –change in time zone











B – same time zone












The graph below represents our findings.

Jet lag hamsters science project


The hypothesis that  hamsters will take time to adjust to changes in time zones, is proven to be true.

The symptoms of jet lag varies between individuals. The quickest road to recovery, is to avoid sleeping during the day and increasing your carbohydrate intake.

Also consider

What would happen if the science fair project was repeated using different types of animals like mice or cats? Take your pet on your next flight to another time zone, and see if they have jet lag!

The science fair project can be repeated to check different activities like sleeping and feeding times.


Jet lag -

Do pets suffer jet lag -

Related videos

Hey there! Here are some awesome videos about this science project that we think you'll really like. They're not only super fun, but they'll also help you learn more about the science behind the project. So sit back, relax, and get ready to have some fun!!
This video showcases a remarkable discovery made by a scientist in the early 20th century about bees' sense of time, which was observed just by watching them coming for his breakfast every morning! Additionally, the video highlights the latest research on bees' circadian rhythms and jet lag, which required scientists to go to great lengths, such as booking flights for the bees!
Unlock the secrets to conquering jet lag once and for all with the power of science! This video shares effective tips and tricks to help you understand and overcome jet lag.
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