Golden Hamster, Fancy Hamster, Teddy bear Hamster and Standard Hamster, Golden hamster, Syrian hamster
The golden hamster or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus ) is a rodent belonging to the hamster subfamily, Cricetinae. Their natural geographical range is limited to a small arid region of northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their numbers have been declining in the wild due to a loss of habitat from agriculture and deliberate elimination by humans. Thus, wild golden hamsters are now considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.Show More
However, captive breeding programs are well-established, and captive-bred golden hamsters are often kept as small house pets. Syrian hamsters are larger than many of the dwarf hamsters kept as pocket pets (up to five times larger), and weigh about the same as a sugar glider, though the wild European hamster exceeds Syrian hamsters in size. They are also used as scientific research animals throughout the world.Show Less
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore (or, more narrowly defined, a folivore) feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growi...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
In 1930, Professor Aharoni captured a female Syrian hamster (otherwise called Golden or Teddy bear hamster) with her twelve pups in Aleppo (Syria). Since then, this species has become a highly popular household pet throughout western states. In fact, all Syrian hamsters that are now kept as pets, originate from this single captured female. Syrian hamster is a small rodent of the Cricetinae family. According to the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, this animal was introduced to North America in 1936 and became one of the first domesticated pet hamsters. The rodent is so called since individuals in the wild are usually colored in golden brown. Syrian hamster has cheek pouches that are used as food stores.
The natural range of Syrian hamster is a quite small area in the Middle East, restricted to northern Syria and southern Turkey. Populations in the wild are most commonly found in fertile, agricultural and densely populated areas on Aleppinian plateau (Syria). Preferred habitats of this species are steppes, sand dunes, edges of deserts and other warm, dry areas.
These solitary animals normally don't tolerate individuals of their kind, although they socialize during the mating season. Syrian hamsters are highly territorial, scent marking their home ranges with glands, found on their flanks. When scent marking, they simply rub their flanks against a substrate, thus leaving the scent, which can convey various types of information, even allowing to identify individuals. This species is nocturnal, the daytime hours are usually spent in burrows and the activity period begins at dusk. During the nighttime hours, these rodents forage, taking multiple trips between food sources and their burrow to carry and store the food in their dwellings. Each hamster travels as much as 8 miles per one evening to find and cache food. During the winter months, Syrian hamsters hibernate or enter a state of torpor. Captive individuals usually hibernate when the temperature drops under 8 degrees Celsius.
As an omnivore, Syrian hamster consumes a wide variety of food, including seeds, nuts as well as insects such as ants, flies, cockroaches and wasps.
Syrian hamsters are polygynous animals, which mean that one male mates with multiple females. Breeding in this species depends on photoperiods or day length: Syrian hamsters breed when photoperiods are long. During each breeding season, females are able to produce young approximately every month. Gestation period is 16 days, yielding 8 - 12 altricial young that are born with closed eyes. The babies are cared by their mother, whereas the father usually doesn't participate in rearing the young. After producing large litters, some females may reduce the litter size by cannibalism. Females in the wild usually do it during food shortages, while those in captivity display cannibalism as a response to anthropogenic disturbance. Young hamsters open their eyes at 12 - 14 days old and are weaned at 19 - 21 days of age. The age of sexual maturity is one month old.
Population of this species in Syria is threatened by loss of its natural habitat due to development of human settlements. In February, when their burrow entrances begin to emerge, these animals are heavily trapped and poisoned throughout their range as serious pest species. During May-June, when fields are harvested, burnt and ploughed, sheep clean out remaining vegetation, leaving Syrian hamsters without cover, nutrition and winter food supply.
The IUCN Red List doesn’t provide the exact number of Syrian hamsters’ population. However, the total population may consist of fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) and its numbers are decreasing.
These animals are key prey species for many local predators. Moreover, Syrian hamsters act as seed dispersers due to feeding upon various seeds and grains that are occasionally lost while storing. And finally, burrows of these rodents are used by other species, including toads.
Golden hamsters are popular as house pets due to their docile, inquisitive nature, cuteness, and small size. However, these animals have some special requirements that must be met for them to be healthy. Although some people think of them as a pet for young children, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends hamsters as pets only for people over age 6 and the child should be supervised by an adult. Cages should be a suitable size, safe, comfortable, and interesting. If a hamster is constantly chewing and/or climbing on the bars of its cage then it needs more stimulation or a larger cage. The minimum recommended size for a hamster cage is 450 square inches (2,900 cm2), of continuous floor space (although the source of this recommendation is unknown). These can be made from a plastic storage bin or a large glass tank. The majority of hamster cages sold in pet stores do not meet these size requirements. Hamster Society Singapore (HHS) recommends a minimum of 4,000 square centimetres (620 sq in) for Syrian hamsters, while Tierärztliche Vereinigung für Tierschutz (TVT) recommends giving them as much space as you can and at minimum 100 cm × 50 cm × 50 cm (L × W × H) which is 5,000 cm2 (780 sq in).Show More
A hamster wheel is a common type of environmental enrichment, and it is important that hamsters have a wheel in their cage. TVT recommends wheels should be at least 30 cm for Syrian hamsters, since smaller diameters lead to permanent spinal curvatures, especially in young animals. They also recommend a solid running surface because rungs or mesh can cause injury. A hamster should be able to run on its wheel without arching its back. A hamster that has to run with an arched back can have back pain and spine problems. A variety of toys, either shop-bought or home-made, can help to keep them entertained. Cardboard tubes and boxes are stimulating. Golden hamsters are energetic and need space to exercise.
Most hamsters in American and British pet stores are golden hamsters. Originally, golden hamsters occurred in just one color – the mixture of brown, black, and gold, but they have since developed a variety of color and pattern mutations, including cream, white, blonde, cinnamon, tortoiseshell, black, three different shades of gray, dominant spot, banded, and dilute.Show Less