Where do hamsters come from?
Where do hamsters come from?. Hamsters, small rodents, are often kept as house pets. Because of their small ears, short tails and stubby legs, they are easily distinguished from other rodents. There are many colors available for hamsters, including black, brown, white and yellow or a combination of multiple colors.
Different sizes of hamsters
These animals are available in 24 different species. The European breed is the largest of all hamster varieties, growing to 13.4 inches (34 cm) in length. The dwarf hamster lives up its name. These tiny hamsters can grow to approximately 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in length. The most popular pet hamster is the Syrian hamster. Also known as the teddy bear or golden hamsters, it usually grows to approximately 6 inches (15.24cm) in length.
Where do hamsters come from?
According to the ASPCA Hamsters are nocturnal which means that they prefer sleeping during the day. To live and breed in the wild, they will dig burrows which are a series or tunnels. Burrows are also used by hamsters to store food. Wild hamsters can keep cool in hot environments by living underground.
The golden or Syrian hamster is one of the most beloved pet hamster species in North America and Western Europe. It was first discovered in the wild in 1797. How did this hamster travel from the Middle East to your bedroom or classroom? Israel Aharoni, zoologist, is the one to thank. He and Sheikh El-Beled, a local sheikh, discovered a golden mouse and 11 of her young while on a 1930 expedition to search for the golden hamsters. They were located 8 feet (2.24 meters) below a wheatfield.
Although the first hamsters were found in Syria, they are also found in Greece, Romania and Belgium. They prefer to live in dry, warm areas like steppes, desert edges, and sand dunes.
According to the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, Hamsters were imported from Syria in 1936 to the United States. They were among the first domesticated hamsters.
Aharoni brought back the hamsters to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The hamsters soon multiplied and found their way to universities, zoos and finally homes all over the globe.
Some hamsters are social while others are more introverted. The Syrian hamster, for example, doesn’t like being around other hamsters. They can be territorial so they should not be kept in the same cage as other hamsters. It may bite or even kill another hamster. Dwarf hamsters on the other hand are social and love to have a friend.
If it is cold enough, wild hamsters will hibernate. Hamsters will eat from their hibernation every so often. Hamsters will hibernate until they have enough food, but if there isn’t enough, they will not eat.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Suborder: Myomorpha
- Superfamily: Muroidea
- Family: Cricetidae
- Subfamily: Cricetinae
- Genera:Allocricetulus,Cansumus,Cricetus,Cricetulus,Mesocricetus,Phodopus andTscherskia
- Species: 24 species. The most common hamsters found as pets are: Syrian golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus); Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus); Campbell’s or dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli); Djungarian or winter-white Russian dwarf hamster (Phodopus sungorus); Roborovski hamster (Phodopus roborovskii)
Hamsters love to eat nuts, seeds, crack corn, fruits, and vegetables. Wild hamsters eat insects, frogs, and small animals. Canadian Federation of Humane Societies recommends that captive hamsters eat at least 16% protein and 5% fat.
Hamsters are named after the German word “hamstern,” meaning “hoard,” which is how they eat. They carry food in pouches inside their cheeks. They will then take their hoard to their colony, where they can later eat it. Many pet hamsters store food under their cage bedding.A white and brown Syrian hamster playing in the sand. Image credit: Alexruss Shutterstock
When mating, male and female hamsters are quick to get along. Two hamsters of different genders can be placed in a single cage and the female will soon become pregnant. They can gestate for 15 to 20 days.
The litter becomes blind after birth. They are then able to see until two weeks of age. At three to four weeks, they can be weaned. Females usually have between two and three litters each year. Hamsters live for one to two years but can live up three years in captivity.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ RED List has declared golden hamsters vulnerable to extinction. This breed can be found in Syria where human development and agriculture are taking over the hamsters’ natural habitat.
Hamsters make great house pets as they are gentle and easy to care for. However, they will bite if they are scared or startled. They can also bite if they’re awakened in their sleep. Because they sleep during the night and humans are awake during daytime, biting is more common.
Hamsters have very bad eyesight. The scent they emit from their backs is easily identified by their scent glands. They leave a scent trail by rubbing their backs against things to help them find their way. This scent trail will be used by hamsters to help them find their way home if they lose their way.
Hamsters’ teeth are constantly growing. Their teeth are kept short by chewing on wood and twigs. Their teeth would become so long if they had nothing to chew on that it would cause damage to the lips and roof of their mouths.
Mother hamsters are very protective. She will carry her babies to safety if she is concerned about their safety.
- IUCN Red List – Mesocricetus autus
- ASPCA – Hamsters
- Humane Society of the United States- Hamsters
- Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association – Biology of the Hamster