A full day in-game lasts for 8 real-time minutes by default (split into sixteen 30-second segments). After this time, the day counter will increase. The day consists of 3 phases: Day, Dusk and Night.
The Day phase is the brightest and is represented by the yellow segments of the clock in the top-right corner of the screen. The Day phase is generally the safest phase of the day and also the time when most Animals are active. Most Monsters, like Spiders and Spider Warriors, sleep during the Day. Neutral and passive mobs, including Pigmen, roam outside their houses until dusk. Merms, an aggressive mob, are less active during the Day phase, and this is the only time Red Mushrooms sprout up to be picked. Crops in Farms are only grown in daylight.
The Dusk phase is shown by red segments on the clock and is the part of the day when the sun is setting and the world becomes darker, although a light source is not yet required. At Dusk, Bees, Butterflies, Frogs, Gobblers, Pigs/Bores, Ballphins, Rabbits, and Tallbirds all return to their homes until morning. Spiders and Mosquitoes become active at this time while Beefalo move closer together as a herd. Merms are much more active at Dusk than any other phase. Bunnymen will also come out of their houses during this phase and stay out until daybreak. Pigs who are trapped outside at Dusk will panic and run around searching for light. The temperature begins to drop as well, and Green Mushrooms sprout to be picked. Dusk drains an average character's Sanity by 5/minute. If harvested, Mandrakes will dance around and mock the player as well as follow until the break of dawn. Elder Mandrakes will also be active and stay out until dawn.
The Night phase is represented by dark blue segments on the clock. When Night falls, the world quickly becomes completely dark and a light source is necessary. Most neutral and passive mobs still outside go to sleep on the spot. Redbirds, Snowbirds, and Crows who do not take flight before night comes settle down to sleep. Most aggressive mobs continue to be active at night. A light source is required during this phase not only to see, but also because Charlie will attack in complete darkness. Also, in total darkness, the character cannot interact with anything (they can still place Campfires and Fire Pits down, provided they aren't obstructed by terrain), and Sanity drains at a rate of 50/minute. While close to an active light source, sanity drains at 5/minute. Night is the coldest phase and the time when Blue Mushrooms, the rarest of the three mushrooms and a potent healing item, may be picked.
Surface mobs not listed here have the same behavior throughout the day, despite the phase.
|Summer||Spawns from flower, and flies around aimlessly.||Retreats to nearest flower and despawns. Keeps flying aimlessly if there are no flowers nearby.||Retreats to nearest flower and despawns if released from player. Keeps flying aimlessly if there are no flowers nearby|
|Winter||Doesn't spawn from flowers. Retreats to nearest flower and despawns if released from player. Keeps flying aimlessly if there are no flowers nearby.||Retreats to nearest flower and despawns if released from player. Keeps flying aimlessly if there are no flowers nearby||Retreats to nearest flower and despawns if released from player. Keeps flying aimlessly if there are no flowers nearby|
|Summer||Leaves the hive to gather honey from nearby flowers.||Heads back into hive. Continue to pollinate any flowers, evil or not, if stuck outside.||Stays inside hive or fall asleep if homeless.|
|Winter||Stays inside hive unless provoked. Continue to pollinate any flowers, if stuck outside.||Stay inside hive unless provoked. Continue to pollinate any flowers, if stuck outside.||Stays inside hive unless provoked. Any and all bees
stuck outside will fall asleep.
|Leaves Bee Hive only when hive or bees are attacked. Leaves Killer Bee Hive when player is nearby or hive is attacked.||Heads back to hive. Flies aimlessly if stuck outside.||Stays inside hive or fall asleep if homeless.|
|Summer||Stays inside Pond . Flies aimlessly if released from player.||Leaves pond and fly near it.||Keeps flying near pond.|
|Winter||Stays inside frozen pond. Flies aimlessly if released from player.||Stays inside frozen pond. Flies aimlessly if released from player.||Stays inside frozen pond. Flies aimlessly if released from player.|
|Summer Only Winter Only||Occasionally lands on the ground. Mobs that get near will scare a bird into taking flight.||Continues to fly and land.||Takes flight, though sometimes a bird left on the ground will go to sleep. It won't wake up when other creatures get near. Birds in Birdcages go to sleep unless the player offers them something.|
|Spawns from Berry Bush. Wanders around looking for berries.||Runs to nearest Berry Bush to hide. Wanders aimlessly if no bushes are nearby.||Falls asleep if no bushes are nearby.|
|Leaves hole to wander.||Retreats to hole. Wanders aimlessly if left outside.||Falls asleep if left outside.|
|Dies instantly when picked. When picked the dusk/night before, it replants itself.||Becomes a follower when picked.||
Becomes a follower when picked. If done already, continues to follow until the next day.
|Summer||Comes out of pond and roams near it.||Goes back inside pond. Stays idle if no pond is nearby.||Stays inside pond. Stays idle if no pond is nearby|
|Winter||Stays inside frozen pond. Roams around if left outside.||Stays inside frozen pond. Stays idle if left outside.||Stays inside frozen pond. Stays idle if left outside.|
|Roams around, generally in a savannah biome.||Beefalo huddle together.||Beefalo fall asleep. Babies roam near their parents.|
|Roams around its nest.||Returns to nest to sleep.||Keeps sleeping in nest.|
|Follows the player. Only if hatched from a Tallbird Egg.||Keeps following the player.||Falls asleep if player is not moving away from it, otherwise keeps following the player.|
|Winter Only||Can spawn from the ocean. Walks toward its nesting ground, if not already on it, otherwise roams around the nesting ground.||Can spawn from the ocean. Walks toward its nesting ground, if not already on it, otherwise roams around the nesting ground.||Can spawn from the ocean. Falls asleep.|
|Winter Only Summer Only||Wanders around looking for things to attack.||Keeps wandering around looking for things to attack.||Falls asleep if there are no things around to attack.|
|Wanders around looking for things to steal. Hops into his sack after a while.||Keeps wandering around looking for things to steal. Hops into his sack after a while.||Falls asleep.|
|Winter Only||Roams around the landscape.||Returns to Walrus Camp.||Stays inside Igloo or falls asleep if left outside.|
|Wanders around and away from home.||Returns to home. When following or homeless, they become anxious when there's no light source but gather around one.||They enter their houses. Following Pigs will fall asleep unless they are threatened by hostile mobs. Shivers instead of sleeping if current season is Winter. Will search for light source.|
|Only one comes out to wander around the Rundown House.
All Merms come out if one is attacked.
|All come out and wander around.||All continue wandering.|
|Stays inside their hutch or fall asleep if stuck outside.||Leaves to wander around and away from home.||Continues wandering.|
|Hide in their Spider Den and comes out only when creatures step on a web.||Exit their nests and wander a short distance away, looking for food.||They continue wandering around their base.|
|Summer||Can spawn from Evergreen. Roams around aimlessly if neutral.||Can spawn from Evergreen. Roams around aimlessly if neutral.||Can spawn from Evergreen. Falls asleep if neutral.|
|Summer||Can spawn from Spider Den. Roams around aimlessly if neutral.||Can spawn from Spider Den. Roams around aimlessly if neutral.||Can spawn from Spider Den. Falls asleep if neutral.|
- Note: This section relates to Sandbox/Survival mode only.
The amount of daylight varies throughout the game. In mid-Summer (starting around Day 3) the Day phase is more than half of the total clock, while Night lasts only 2 segments. In Winter, Night is about 1/3 of the clock and Dusk nearly half. One complete cycle of the seasons lasts 36 days; 20 Summer and 16 Winter. Below is a chart showing the amount of each phase throughout the seasons:
Caves have a unique Day-Night Cycle. Time doesn't pass the same as it does on the surface, but there's still a Day-Night cycle. The only way to tell which phase the Day-Night Cycle is at is from the natural shafts of light, and mushrooms that are pickable. The lighted area becomes more narrow with each phase until darkness engulfs the area at night. The player still loses sanity as if it were night despite the phase. Mob activity during the phases is the same as on the surface. Naturally, Seasons do not impact caves with day length (as there is no day) or temperature. Players who are freezing from the cold warm up as soon as they go underground.
Trees, Saplings, Grass, and Berry Bushes grow as they do on the surface, but the player is blind to the passage of time while underground. Crops will only grow if they are near a light source, though they can still grow with the help of fertilizer.
Main article: Nightmare Cycle
The Ruins have their own cycle called the Nightmare Cycle, with a full one being much longer than a Day-Night Cycle on the surface. As with Caves, the Ruins are still considered as being in permanent night, and mob activity abides to the night phase.
In the Reign of Giants DLC, The number of segments per phase changes drastically from the vanilla game depending on season. Also, during the full moon, the moon will give enough light to walk around. When it rains on the Surface World, it rains inside the Caves as well. Caves can now only partially protect the player from overheating/freezing.
- When hovering the cursor over the clock during Dusk, it will not show the number of the world the player is in.
- With the Lights Out world setting in Don't Starve Together, Full Moon may be followed by a dusk level light, instead of complete darkness.