Everything You Need to Know About the Syrian Hamster

Posted by Tori Holmes
orange syrian hamster is climbing blue cage beg for something

Looking for a pet that is both cuddly and inquisitive? Here is everything you need to know about the Syrian hamster!

Also known as a Golden hamster, the Syrian hamster is one of the largest and most popular breed of hamster kept as a pet. British zoologist George Robert Waterhouse first discovered them in 1839 while researching in Syria, giving them the name of Syrian hamster.

In 1930, a zoologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem captured a female and her litter and began to breed them for laboratory testing. However, some of them escaped from the lab and all wild hamsters in Israel today are believed to be their descendants.

The year after their great escape, Syrian hamsters were shipped to Britain where they eventually made their way to North America.

Based on their adventurous past, it's not surprising that Syrian hamsters are quite inquisitive. They require plenty of activities to keep them mentally stimulated and, if bored, can be very good escape artists. Syrian hamsters as a breed are very docile and easy to handle, making them wonderful pets for both adults and children alike.

While they enjoy spending time with their human owners, Syrians are very territorial with other hamsters. They prefer to live a solitary life and can seriously injure, or kill, another hamster if they are kept together.

Overall, the Syrian hamster is the hardiest and most docile breed of hamster, making them excellent family pets. They are comfortable being held and enjoy spending time with their humans.

Syrian hamsters have a lifespan of between two and three years.

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Body

The Syrian hamster is one of the largest breed of hamster. Fully grown, they will between 5 and 7 inches in length, weighing between 120 and 125 grams.

Coat

Originally only available with golden coats, Syrian hamsters today are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including cream, gray, cinnamon, and tortoiseshell.

The coat of the Syrian hamster comes in four different variations: Short-haired, long-haired, satin, or rex. Syrian hamsters with long coats are also known as Teddy Bear hamsters, with females developing thick fluffy coats and males developing long skirts of hair.

Temperament

The Syrian hamster has an inquisitive personality and must be provided with adequate mental stimulation or they have a tendency to escape. They are incredibly docile and enjoy being handled and interacting with their owners. 

Health

One of the biggest health issues for Syrian hamsters is a condition called Wet Tail. Often stress induced, it is characterized by persistent and foul-smelling diarrhea. It is highly contagious to other hamsters and can lead to death if not dealt with promptly.

Another health issue for Syrian hamsters is overgrown teeth. Their teeth are continuously growing, so it’s important they have plenty of gnawing materials available or they may have to be trimmed down by a veterinarian.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Syrian Hamster