Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Syrian Hamsters: The First Domestic Hamster Species

Syrian Hamsters: The First Domestic Hamster Species

As pointed out to us by a group of Hamster enthusiasts and experienced breeders, the scientifically accurate term for a kind or type of Hamster is referred to as a species, and not breed. Hamsters cannot be bred nor housed with a different species of Hamsters. They are essentially identified as different species individually. While some of us may argue that this is a controversial topic, we shall not deny the fact that accurate information can be shared as a form of education for the masses too.
Syrian Hamster Species
With the increased popularity of dwarf sized pets in Singapore, even the smallest of pets like hamsters have shrunken in size, we could only wonder, where are the original sized hamsters? We recall the chubby, pudgy, hamsters that fit into your hands perfectly, sometimes they are so slow that it’s way beyond adorable.

The Syrian Hamster

Like their name states, Syrian Hamsters originate from Syria, first discovered by British Zoologist George Robert Waterhouse in 1839. The skin of his first Syrian Hamster specimen is currently housed in the National History Museum of London. In 1930, Zoologist and Professor Israel Aharoni captured a mother Syrian Hamster and her litter of pups in Aleppo, Syria
Syrian Hamsters were then bred in Jerusalem for use as lab animals. Some of these Syrian Hamsters eventually escaped through holes and bred in the wild. The offspring of the remaining few were shipped to Britain in 1931. In Arabic languages, they were adorably dubbed as Mr Saddlebags— their ability to store so much food in their cheek pouches is not unknown to many today ☺

Fun Fact      Did you know? The Syrian Hamster population in the wild is considered threatened now, due to the loss of habitat in their native lands. 

Appearance Of A Syrian Hamster

Size — A Syrian Hamster’s body is the size of an adult hand, and the average length of an adult Syrian Hamster is about 13 to 18 cm long.

Features — A Stout body carried by wide short legs, with a stubby tail that is barely visible underneath it's fur. Tulip shaped ears sit on top of their heads, coupled with large round eyes.

Fun Fact      Unlike the Dwarf Hamster species, the Syrian Hamster's nose and mouth are much more noticeable, due to difference in size, and sharpness.
Syrian Hamsters
CoatBoth Short and Long hair are available.

Colour — The Syrian Hamster has many nicknames, and one of which is The Golden Hamster, and also Teddy Bear. These nicknames were derived from their different coat colours, but the original colour of the Syrian Hamster is none other than Golden! Other Colours include White, Cream, and Blue.

Grooming A Syrian Hamster

Syrian Hamsters are extremely easy to groom, for they do not require water baths. Only bath them if absolutely necessary, if they can’t get certain stains off or if they are starting to smell. A damp towel works great as well, and if you have to use shampoo, choose an unscented one. Always make sure your Hamsters are completely dry. Otherwise, Syrian Hamsters are great self groomers. Additionally, there are also long-haired Syrian hammmies out there (as informed by another Hamster enthusiast). These require a tad more effort in grooming in combing out their fur!
brushing a syrian hamster
There are still mixed reviews as to whether a Syrian Hamster needs sand baths, because it seems that some Hammies like it, and some do not. Introduce your Hamsters with a little sand bath and watch how they react to it. Certain Syrian Hamsters are said to love digging and playing it, so it could be more of a burrowing behaviour as opposed to hygiene. 


Avoid pine and cedar bedding as usual, as they could cause respiratory problems, and ensure they have toys like tunnels and such in their cages or as an attachment, to mimic their natural habitats. Since Syrian Hamsters are relatively larger, ample space and hiding spots are a must, ensure they have enough space to move about and play while you are not available.  
Syrian hamster hiding
Wooden toys are a must, Syrian Hamsters keep their overgrown teeth at bay with plenty of chewing. A good sized home is required for these active hamsters, and remember, one cage per hamster to avoid fighting!

Syrian Hamster Personality

Syrian Hamsters are docile, curious creatures with the adorable ability to store huge amounts of food in their cheek pouches. The possible forms of aggression can be derived from territorial issues with other Hamsters / a female that has just given birth / when they are accidentally shocked. 
Syrian Hamster profile
A Syrian Hamster’s scent gland is located on the side of their hips, and they use these to mark territories. They make active and fun pets, and are much easier to handle than dwarf hamsters, but adult supervision is still advised for children handling them.
When in captivity and proper care, a Syrian Hamster can live up to 3 or 4 years.  

Fun Fact      When threatened by a new scent on her pups, an inexperienced mother Syrian Hamster may eat her pups. That is why we have got to be extra careful these babies!

You might also be interested in these:

Essential How To Life Hacks For Every Hamster Owner

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This article was written with informational purposes, as you know, we’d love to share our collective research and experiences as fellow Pet owners and lovers. It is not meant to alternate in any way as advice or diagnosis of Professionals.

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