The Syrian hamster is also known as the golden hamster. This is a famous member of the hamster family. They are slowly decreasing in number because of their vulnerability in the wild including loss of habitat that is related to agriculture and other human activities. However, in the present, there are breeding programs that are established to breed Syrian hamsters. They are now very popular as pets!
As the name suggests, the Syrian hamsters came from Syria. They were discovered in 1830 by George Robert Waterhouse, a British zoologist. They live in a desert climate. The first species discovered by Waterhouse is a female hamster.
In 1930, another zoologist, Israel Aharoni was able to capture a group of hamsters in Aleppo, Syria. These were bred and made as laboratory animals. They are actually the first species to be bred for laboratory use. Some were able to escape and the golden hamsters in Israel today are believed to have come from those.
The adult Syrian hamster is 13 to 18 centimetres in length. They weigh between 85 to 150 grams. A Syrian hamster can live for as long as 3 years. They are mostly active during the night when held in captivity. Golden hamsters in the wild are usually active during twilight. Hamsters in the wild sleep at daytime to avoid predators that are out to hunt them.
Golden hamsters have cheek pouches that can extend up to its shoulders. This is because when they are in the wild, they use their cheek pouches to carry food to their home. A sexually mature female hamster goes into heat every four days. Syrian hamsters have a gestational period of 16 days. This is the shortest period known among placental mammals. Sometimes, the gestational period can last up to 18 days but this does not happen so often and often results to various complications.
A Syrian hamster can have as many as 20 litters or even more. Hamsters are known to eat their young and this is also the same with the Syrian hamster.
Syrian hamsters do not like to spend time with other hamsters. However, they like human interaction. They can be handled with ease. Just be careful not to startle them because they can bite if scared. If kept in a cage or as pet, they like to run inside a ball or a wheel. This can give them the necessary exercise that they need. There are also instances where they hide under their beddings. What makes these hamsters become good pets is that they are friendly towards humans. But when you combine them with other hamsters, they end up fighting except when a male smells a female hamster in heat.
Male Syrian hamsters have a longer life span than females. There is one habit of the hamsters that is good for them and that is eating their own faeces. They do this so that they are able to get the nutrients from the food that they just ingested.