Although hibernating mammals wake occasionally to eat during torpor, this period represents a state of fasting. Fasting is known to alter the gut microbiota in nonhibernating mammals; therefore, hibernation may also affect the gut microbiota. However, there are few reports of gut microbiota in hibernating mammals. The present study aimed to compare the gut microbiota in hibernating torpid Syrian hamsters with that in active counterparts by using culture-independent analyses. Hamsters were allocated to either torpid, fed active, or fasted active groups. Hibernation was successfully induced by maintaining darkness at 4 degrees C. Flow cytometry analysis of cecal bacteria showed that 96-h fasting reduced the total gut bacteria. This period of fasting also reduced the concentrations of short chain fatty acids in the cecal contents. In contrast, total bacterial numbers and concentrations of short chain fatty acids were unaffected by hibernation. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments indicated that fasting and hibernation modulated the cecal microbiota. Analysis of 16S rRNA clone library and species-specific real-time quantitative PCR showed that the class Clostridia predominated in both active and torpid hamsters and that populations of Akkermansia muciniphila, a mucin degrader, were increased by fasting but not by hibernation. From these results, we conclude that the gut microbiota responds differently to fasting and hibernation in Syrian hamsters.