Other name(s): Golden Hamster; Fancy Hamster; Teddybear Hamster; Teddy Bear Hamster; Standard Hamster; Common Hamster; Black Bear Hamster; European Black Bear Hamster
Scientific name: Mesocricetus auratus
The Syrian Hamster is the largest of the hamsters and probably the most popular. Their large size and generally agreeable disposition make them easy to handle. They’re a good choice for inexperienced owners or households with children, though children should always be supervised when handling a hamster, including the Syrian. They’re also curious and energetic and can make an entertaining pet. Like most hamsters, they like to run and explore and need lots of room to do so.
The Syrian Hamster was originally wild in portions of northern Syria and southern Turkey. However, sightings of the Syrian in the wild have become rare, and they’re currently classified as endangered. Domesticated Syrians are quite common, and along with their traditional golden color (they’re also sometimes called the Golden Hamster) they now come in a broad variety of other colors, patterns, and coat textures.
Appearance / health:
Syrian Hamsters are full-bodied and round, reaching a length of about 5 to 7 inches with females being slightly larger than males. They have very short tails (hardly visible in long-haired varieties), small eyes, and small, petal-shaped ears. Hamsters have large, expandable cheek pouches which will become more or less visible based on how full they’ve been stuffed with food.
The Syrian Hamster has four coat types: short, long, satin, and rex. Longhaired Syrians are sometimes referred to as "Teddy Bear Hamsters". Male longhaired Syrians can grow a coat 3 to 4 inches long, while the female of the species are just a bit fluffier than their short-haired counterparts. The satin coat has a glossy shine, and the rex’s coat and whiskers appear crimped. All coat types come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The traditional color for the Syrian Hamster is a deep golden brown with a white belly. Other common colors are white, cream cinnamon, sable, black, and silver. Patterns include banded, dominant spot, tortoiseshell, and roan.
All hamsters are prone to certain illnesses including impacted cheek pouches, over-grown teeth, respiratory infections (often from too much moisture, drafts, or very high temperatures), “wet tail” (diarrhea caused by stress), and indigestion related to food. Syrian Hamster has an average lifespan of 2.5 to 3 years.
Behavior / temperament:
The Syrian Hamster is active and energetic. They enjoy running and exploring and should be given plenty of opportunities to exercise. They tend to be easy to handle and can be quite affectionate if well-socialized from a young age. Syrian Hamsters are territorial and may fight, sometimes to the death, if housed with other hamsters. They are happy to live alone, but enjoy interacting with people.
Hamsters, including Syrians, are nocturnal and will be most active in the evenings. They may venture out occasionally during the day for food or some brief exercise. When disturbed during the day, they may be more prone to bite and you should never reach into a sleeping hamster’s house. They like to run, climb, and gnaw and should be given appropriate ways to do so. Hamsters have poor eye sight so care should be taken if they are allowed to explore areas they could fall from.
Your Syrian Hamster’s cage will be the most important investment you make for your new pet, and many commercial cages are much too small for an adult hamster, especially the larger Syrian. Recommended floor space is at least 360 square inches and bigger is always better. Popular cages include glass tanks (a 20-gallon minimum and long rather than tall) and wire cages. Modular cages are not recommended for Syrians as the hamster may get stuck in the plastic tubes, and the cages are generally much too small.
The second most important choice for your new hamster’s home is bedding. Aspen shavings and paper-based beddings are ideal. Pine and cedar shavings can irritate a hamster’s sensitive respiratory tract and should never be used. Hamsters like to dig, so bedding should be a minimum of 3 inches deep. If you notice your hamster is particularly fond of burrowing, more is better!
A wheel is an essential addition to your hamster’s cage. Hamsters can run as much as 5 miles in a night, so choosing a safe and appropriate wheel is essential. The wheel should have a solid running surface – bars and mesh can cause serious problems with a hamster’s feet, including a painful condition called Bumble Foot. In addition, to prevent back injury the wheel needs to be large enough that your hamster can run with its back straight.
A wide variety of toys and tubes can be used in your hamster’s cage and many can double as a much-needed chewing surface. Your hamster should also be provided with at least one hideout/house and the occasional sand bath. The cage should also include a water bottle and a food dish.
There are many commercial foods available to provide a well-balanced diet for your hamster. They come in the form of pellets, lab blocks, and seed mixes. While hamsters probably enjoy seed mixes the most, many may be high in fat and low in protein. Choosing a food with a good mix of both pellets and seed, or mixing your own from two different foods, is the best way to ensure your hamster is getting everything it needs. Many hamster owners keep a dish of pellets or lab blocks and then scatter some seed mix throughout the cage to encourage a hamster’s natural foraging behavior.
In addition to the dry food mixes, hamsters should be given small portions of fruits and vegetables. Hamsters like to hoard their food so only as much fresh food as they will eat in a day should be offered to avoid hidden rotting food.
A variety of edible chews are available to help wear down your hamster’s teeth. In addition, hard dog biscuits, a small amount of uncooked pasta, and even edible dog chews are popular. Other treats should be given sparingly, and those high in sugar should probably be avoided.
distinct personality, sociable hamster, great first pets, great companions, furry little buddy
bite, little escape artists, nocturnal animal, wet tail, annoying noise, expensive cage, nightly activities
good climbers, hyperactive, silent wheel, big puffy cheeks, toilet roll tubes, big puffy cheeks
Not as easy as they seem
When we were about 12 or 13, we decided to get hamsters as an easy little pet and enjoyed the idea of making big tunnel mazes for them to enjoy around the room. Let me tell you, they were nothing we expected! The plastic tubing and cage was pointless. They would run about the cage or on the squeaky wheel all hours of the night. They then decided it would be fun to, instead of chewing on the provided toys and such, they would chew on the plastic edges, wheel, and tunnel pieces with no end in sight until there were holes in the entire cage. These little guys ended up escaping constantly because of this. We ultimately had to put them in an aquarium to try to keep them in. Even this didn't work. They ended up piling things together to reach the top and pushed on the lid to chew through it and escaped again. This time they were gone forever.We never found them again unfortunately. We were devastated. We tried our best to give them the best environment possible, but nothing was good enough. Other than this, they were super sweet and great cuddle buddies. They were easy to feed and the cage was pretty easy to keep clean. I loved them but I'm not entirely sure whether I would own one again or not. I would not recommend a hamster as a pet for children to have sole responsibility over as they can be a little difficult to handle and need supervision. They can be pretty bitey as well and must be treated with care and gently. Their habitat can get pricey too depending on how much space you want or need to give them to run around, but I tell you right now, they won't be happy with a tiny cage and if that's all you can give them, I suggest going for something else as these are very active, nocturnal critters. I also suggest keeping them in a secluded place that your other pets can't go. Dogs and cats really stress them out. Please also, for their health, provide appropriate veggies on top of their pelleted food as the pelleted food is only so good and not enough nutrition alone for their diet. This pet is not recommended for anyone who is a first time pet owner in my opinion as they can be pretty needy..
From Eqwuus Jan 6 2019 12:32AM
Timothy hay for hamsters
Most people don't think to feed their hamster timothy hay, but we buy it for our rabbits so we put some in our hamster's cage. She enjoys playing in it and adding it to her bed, but it we have found that it's also good for hamster's digestion and dental health, as part of a balanced diet..
From EmilyBB87 637 days ago
The hidden carnivores.
As my birthday was approaching I finally got a green light to choose a pet. Boy was I ecstatic, but little did i know that in next couple of months I will have to deal with little furry vampires. We got a pair of hamster at the local pet shop and a huge cage since I knew that they multiply quickly just did not realize how quickly.
First couple of weeks I decided not to touch them so that they can accommodate to the new environment, maybe that was a mistake or maybe they really were distant descendants of count Dracula, guess I will never find that out.
They were lively and hungry almost all the time, lively enough to escape their cage a couple of times. When ever I tried to pet them the would bite my fingers of, I had plasters on each finger in a matter of days. And then the babies came. When that happened since I was already frustrated with their bloodlust we decided to take them with their babies back to the pet shop.
I think from that point on I am not fond of any rodent pet. You can love the whole animal kingdom but that does not mean that every living thing is suitable for you..
From Onjegin Dec 24 2015 6:01AM