Syrian Hamster

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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 basics:
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

Helpful Syrian Hamster Review

Syrian Hamster

From Eqwuus Jan 6 2019 12:32AM


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