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FEEDING YOUR HAMSTER hamster foodYou may buy your hamster food from a pet shop which sells

pressed pellets. Hamsters seem to enjoy all types of vegetables but be careful not to give too much of these as hamsters come from a habitat from little water (semi-desert) and a high quantity of vegetables can cause diarrhea. In the wild, hamsters eat seeds, grasses, leaves and insects. In captivity, hamsters should be fed a good diet with lots of varieties like seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables – fruits and vegetables should be fed moderately and not excessively. Fruits and vegetables should always be washed with clean water before feeding them to hamsters. Good vegetables for hamsters are: a small piece of lettuce,

chicory, endive, cauliflower, paprika, cucumber and broccoli. Good fruits for hamsters are: a small piece of apple, pear, peach, melon, berries and banana. Make sure you remove any uneaten fruits, since they will start to rot and rotten fruits will make your hamster ill. Hamsters like a large selection of pelleted hamster diets which are available at all pet shops. Giving your hamster the correct food is important, since it affects the hamster’s health, life span and reproduction. hamster eatingAlways make sure that you provide fresh water for your hamster daily. It's best to give water in a drinking bottle as a dish of water could be easily

overturned or filled with shavings or other dirt. Hamster drinking bottles should be cleaned at least once a week by watering the bottle and using a cotton bud to clean the gab between the bottle and the opening. VITAMINS AND MINERALS If you are giving your hamster a good and balanced diet, it is unnecessary to give the hamster vitamins, minerals and salt blocks. Some hamster owners give their hamsters a "mineral lick". The hamster takes in minerals by licking the stone and it seems that mostly pregnant female hamsters like them. By gnawing on the "mineral licks", the hamsters get extra calcium and at the same time keep their teeth sharp.

Hamsters don't need any foods that contain Vitamin C, since they produce this type of vitamin themselves. hamster foodHAMSTER TREATS You may find various treats in pet stores and most hamsters love these. Treats should only be fed to the hamster as an occasional supplement to the hamster's diet. Some treats bought from pet stores are designed to hang from the top of the cage. These treats provide stimulation as well as food to the hamster. Homemade treats can be fed to your hamster - like bread, scrambled egg, boiled egg, rice crackers and mealworms. Mealworms are usually found at pet stores that sell exotic pets.

HARMFUL FOODS Avoid giving you hamster sharp, dry, stiff or sticky food (such as candy) since these will get stuck in the hamster’s cheek pouches and injure the delicate tissue of the hamster’s mouth. These foods should be completely avoided. Chocolate is poisonous to hamsters and junk food should not be given since they are not nutritious to the hamster’s health. Did you know that almost all rodents eat their own droppings? This is quite normal since the hamster's faeces, provide the hamster with the bacteria needed to create Vitamin B12 during digestion.

Click here to read further more about what is good and what is bad for your hamster's diet. Click here to read and view the plants that are poisonious to hamsters and thus the plants listed should never be given to them. erbils/tp/Hamsters.htm Hamsters
Choosing, Caring For, and Handling Pet Hamsters
By Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, Guide See More About:
• • •

hamster toys hamster names hamster bedding

Use this guide to find out everything you need to know about hamsters including choosing what kind, caring for them, picking out toys, handling, and even breeding.

1. Choosing a Pet Hamster

Photo © Martin Harvey / Getty Images Hamsters are popular pets for children but they aren't always the best pet for small hands. Different breeds are known for different traits and any potential owner to be should learn about the choices they have before picking one out to take home. Also specific kinds of hamsters should not be kept together while others enjoy company, therefore it is important to research your hamster of choice if you plan on getting more than one.  Chinese Hamsters - small and not as common as other kinds of hamsters.  Dwarf Hamster Varieties - several varieties exist and are similar to Chinese hamsters.  Syrian Hamsters - several color variations go by different names but are all types of this hamster.

2. Choosing a Healthy Hamster

Photo © ForeverHamsters Not every hamster in the pet store is of optimal health. Moving from supplier to store to a new home can be a stressful period for baby hamsters and they will often get sick from it. Learn how to choose a healthy hamster and what to watch for after you take it home. Hamsters that are younger are best as they will most likely be friendlier. Choose an active hamster and one that doesn't look like he has a wet bottom or weapy eyes. And even if a cage seems to have a few sick hamsters it is probably best to avoid buying any hamster from that group since hamster diseases are very contagious.

3. Hamster Cages and Supplies

Photo Courtesy of

There are many hamster cage options available online and at pet stores. But some cages are better than others. Several cages (like the ones with all the tubes and colors) may look cool but aren't very functional and difficult to clean while others aren't good for hamsters to live in at all (fish tanks). Smaller hamster breeds also have different cage considerations than the larger Syrian varieties. It's a good idea to get your hamster cage all set up with bedding, water bottle, chew toys, and other necessities before bringing your new hamster home. Check out what you need before you get your hamster, or just make sure you have what you should for the hamster you have now.  Syrian Hamster Cage Considerations  Dwarf Hamster Cage Considerations

4. Hamster Diet

Photo © Flickr user Annia316 Is that store bought bag of seed mix really the best thing for your hamster? Do they need other protein, fruit, or vegetables? There are options available to you but what is really best for your pet?

5. Taming Hamsters

Photo © Carla Matias Does your hamster bite? Does your child not want to play with their hamster anymore since it bit them? Do not fear, you can tame your hamster! Learn how to not startle them, entice them to climb onto your hand, and gain their trust.  Help! My Hamster Bites!

6. Toys for Hamsters

Photo © Flickr user JDAC Hamsters need activities and enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. They also need chew toys to keep their teeth neat and trim. A variety of hamster toys exist in pet stores but other pet rodent toys often work great as hamster toys too.  Homemade Hamster Play Tubes  Hamster Wheels

7. Hamster Breeding

Photo © ForeverHamsters Hamster breeding is not something the casual hamster owner should do. It is best left to hamster breeders who are breeding for specific qualities and temperaments. But accidents happen and sometimes you end up with baby hamsters. Learn a bit about hamster breeding and see what you can expect with a pregnant hamster.
Suggested Reading • • •

Reader Stories: Hamster Show and Tell Choosing a Pet Hamster - What to Expect From a Pet Hamster Top Hamster Care Books

Suggested Reading • • •

Supplies for Pet Hamsters - Hamster Supply List Syrian Hamsters - Golden Hamsters - Teddy Bear Hamsters Introduction to Dwarf Hamsters

Suggested Reading • • •

Dwarf Hamsters - Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamsters Hamster Pictures Hamsters for Pets - Giving a Hamster as a Gift

Related Articles

• • • • •

Types of Hamsters Video Dwarf Hamsters - Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters Chinese Hamsters Hamster Advice - Share Your Story: Hamster Show and Tell How to Choose a Healthy Hamster

Hamster From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Page semi-protected Crystal Clear app kedit.svg This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. You can help. The discussion page may contain suggestions. (September 2011) This article needs attention from an expert in Rodents. See the talk page for details. WikiProject Rodents may be able to help recruit an expert. (November 2011) Hamster Temporal range: Middle Miocene–Recent Syrian Hamster Scientific classification Kingdom: Phylum: Animalia Chordata Vertebrata


Class: Order:

Mammalia Rodentia

Suborder: Myomorpha Superfamily: Family: Muroidea


Subfamily: Cricetinae Fischer de Waldheim, 1817 Genera

Mesocricetus Phodopus Cricetus Cricetulus Allocricetulus Cansumys Tscherskia

Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species, classified in six or seven genera.[1]

Hamsters are crepuscular animals which burrow underground in the daylight to avoid being caught by predators. Their diets include a variety of foods, including dried food, berries, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. In the wild, they feed primarily on seeds, fruits and greens, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects.[2] They have an elongated pouch on each side of their heads that

extends to their shoulders, which they stuff full of food to be stored, brought back to the colony or to be eaten later.

Hamster behavior varies depending on their environment, genetics, and interaction with people. Because they are easy to breed in captivity, hamsters are often used as laboratory animals in more economically developed countries. Hamsters have also become established as popular small house pets,[3] and are sometimes accepted even in areas where other rodents are disliked, and their typically solitary nature can reduce the risk of excessive litters developing in households. Contents

1 History 1.1 Early literature 2 Etymology 3 Description 3.1 Senses 3.2 Diet 4 Behavior 4.1 Social behavior 4.2 Chronobiology 4.3 Burrowing behavior 5 Reproduction 5.1 Fertility 5.2 Gestation and fecundity 5.3 Intersexual aggression and cannibalism 5.4 Weaning

5.5 Longevity 6 Hamsters as pets 7 Classification 7.1 Relationships among hamster species 8 Similar animals 9 Depictions in the Media 10 See also 11 References 12 External links


Although the Syrian hamster or golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) was first described scientifically in 1839, researchers were not able to successfully breed and domesticate hamsters until 1939.[3] The entire laboratory and pet populations of Syrian hamsters appear to be descendants of a single brothersister pairing. These littermates were captured and imported in 1930 from Aleppo [Syria] by Israel Aharoni, a zoologist of the University of Jerusalem.[4] In Jerusalem, the hamsters bred very successfully. Years later, animals of this original breeding colony were exported to the USA, where Syrian hamsters became one of the most popular pets and laboratory animals. Comparative studies of domestic and wild Syrian hamsters have shown reduced genetic variability in the domestic strain. However, the differences in behavioral, chronobiological, morphometrical, hematological and biochemical parameters are relatively small and fall into the expected range of interstrain variations in other laboratory animals.[5] Early literature

In 1774, Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer, a companion of Johann-Wolfgang von Goethe, devoted a whole academic monography in the domain of social sciences and natural history to hamsters, entitled "An approach to a natural history of the hamster" ("Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des Hamsters"). In several instances, he used the hamster to document the equal rights of all beings, including Homo sapiens.[6] Etymology

The name "hamster" is a loanword from the German, which itself derives from earlier Old High German hamustro. It is possibly related to Old Russian choměstrǔ, which is either a blend of the root of Russian khomiak "hamster" and a Baltic word (cf. Lithuanian staras "hamster")[7] or of Persian origin (cf. Av hamaēstar "oppressor").[8] Description Roborovski hamster

Hamsters are typically stout-bodied, with tails shorter than body length, and have small, furry ears, short, stocky legs, and wide feet. They have thick, silky fur, which can be long or short, colored black, grey, honey, white, brown, yellow, red, or a mix, depending on the species. Two species of hamster belonging to the genus Phodopus, Campbell's dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli) and the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), and two of the genus Cricetulus, the Chinese striped hamster (Cricetulus barabensis) and the Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus) have a dark stripe down their heads to their tails. The species of genus Phodopus are the smallest, with bodies 5.5 to 10.5 cm (2.2 to 4.1 in) long; the largest is the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), measuring up to 34 cm (13.4 in) long, not including a short tail of up to 6 cm (2.4 in). The Angora hamster, also known as the long-haired or teddy bear hamster, which is a type of the golden hamster is the second-largest hamster breed, measuring up to 18 cm (7.1 in) long.[3] Yawning white Syrian hamster showing large incisors

The hamster tail can be difficult to see, as it is usually not very long (about 1/6 the length of the body), with the exception of the Chinese dwarf hamster, which has a tail the same length as the body. One rodent characteristic that can be highly visible in hamsters is their sharp incisors; they have an upper pair and lower pair which grow continuously throughout life, so must be regularly worn down. Hamsters are very flexible, but their bones are somewhat fragile. They are extremely susceptible to rapid temperature changes and drafts, as well as extreme heat or cold. Senses

Hamsters have poor eyesight; they are nearsighted and colorblind. [citation needed] To compensate for their poor sight when in unfamiliar territory, hamsters have scent glands on their flanks (and abdomens in Chinese and dwarf hamsters). A hamster rubs these areas of its body against various objects, and leaves a trail of smells to follow to return to its home den.[citation needed] Hamsters also use their sense of smell to identify pheromones and gender, and locate food. They are also particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises and can hear and communicate in the ultrasonic range.[4] Diet

Hamsters are omnivores. Although they can survive on a diet of exclusively commercial hamster food, other items, such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts, can be given, but these should be removed before they become rotten. Hamsters in the Middle East have been known to hunt in packs to find insects for food.[9] Hamsters are hindgut fermenters and must eat their own feces (coprophagy) to recover nutrients digested in the hindgut, but not absorbed.[1] Behavior

A behavioral characteristic of hamsters is food hoarding. They carry food in their spacious cheek pouches to their underground storage chambers. When full, the cheeks can make their heads double, or even triple in size.[1]

Social behavior Hamsters fighting

Most hamsters are strictly solitary. If housed together, acute and chronic stress may occur,[5] and they may fight fiercely, sometimes fatally. Some dwarf hamster species may tolerate conspecifics. Russian hamsters form close, monogamous bonds with their mates, and if separated, they may become very depressed. This happens especially in males. Males will become inactive, eat more, and even show some behavioral changes similar to some types of depression in humans.[citation needed] This can even cause obesity in the hamster. Chronobiology

Evidence conflicts as to whether hamsters are crepuscular or nocturnal. Khunen writes, "Hamsters are nocturnal rodents who [sic] are active during the night...",[5] but others have written that because hamsters live underground during most of the day, only leaving their burrows about an hour before sundown and then returning when it gets dark, their behavior is primarily crepuscular.[citation needed] Fritzsche indicated although some species have been observed to show more nocturnal activity than others, they are all primarily crepuscular.[4]

Wild Syrian hamsters are true hibernators and allow their body temperature to fall close to ambient temperature (but not below 20°C). This kind of thermoregulation diminishes the metabolic rate to about 5% and helps the animal to considerably reduce the need for food during the winter.[5] Hamsters may not hibernate per se, but instead reduce the rate of a number of physiological systems, such as breathing and heart rate, for short periods of time. These periods of torpor (defined as "a state of mental or physical inactivity or insensibility"[10]) can last up 10 days.[citation needed] Burrowing behavior

All hamsters are excellent diggers, constructing burrows with one or more entrances, with galleries connected to chambers for nesting, food storage, and other activities.[1] They use their fore- and hindlegs, as well as their snouts and teeth, for digging. In the wild, the burrow buffers extreme ambient temperatures, offers relatively stable climatic conditions, and protects against predators. Syrian hamsters dig their burrows generally at a depth of 0.7 m.[11] A burrow includes a steep entrance pipe (4– 5 cm in diameter), a nesting and a hoarding chamber and a blind-ending branch for urination. Laboratory hamsters have not lost their ability to dig burrows; in fact, they will do this with great vigor and skill if they are provided with the appropriate substrate.[5]

Wild hamsters will also appropriate tunnels made by other mammals; the Djungarian hamster, for instance, uses paths and burrows of the pika.[citation needed] Reproduction A mother Syrian hamster with pups under one week old Fertility

Hamsters become fertile at different ages depending on their species. Both Syrian and Russian hamsters mature quickly and can begin reproducing at a young age (4–5 wk), whereas Chinese hamsters will usually begin reproducing at two to three months of age, and Roborovskis at three to four months of age. The female’s reproductive life lasts about 18 months, but male hamsters remain fertile much longer. Females are in estrus about every four days, which is indicated by a reddening of genital areas, a musky smell, and a hissing, squeaking vocalisation she will emit if she believes a male is nearby.[3]

When seen from above, a sexually mature female hamster has a trim tail line; a male's tail line bulges on both sides. This might not be very visible in all species. Male hamsters typically have very large testes in relation to their body size. Before sexual maturity occurs, it is more difficult to determine a young hamster's sex. When examined, female hamsters have their anal and genital openings close together, whereas males have these two holes

farther apart (the penis is usually withdrawn into the coat and thus appears as a hole or pink pimple).[3] Gestation and fecundity

Hamsters are seasonal breeders and will produce several litters a year with several pups in each litter. The breeding season is from April to October in the Northern Hemisphere, with two to five litters of one to 13 young being born after a gestation period of 16 to 23 days.[9] Gestation lasts 16 to 18 days for Syrian hamsters, 18 to 21 days for Russian hamsters, 21 to 23 days for Chinese hamsters and 23 to 30 for Roborovski hamsters. The average litter size for Syrian hamsters is about seven pups, but can be as great as 24, which is the maximum number of pups that can be contained in the uterus. Campbell's dwarf hamsters tend to have four to eight pups in a litter, but can have up to 13. Djungarian hamsters tend to have slightly smaller litters, as do Chinese and Roborovski hamsters. Intersexual aggression and cannibalism

Female Chinese and Syrian hamsters are known for being aggressive toward the male if kept together for too long after mating. In some cases, male hamsters can die after being attacked by the female. If breeding hamsters, separation of the pair after mating is recommended, or they will attack each other.

Female hamsters are also particularly sensitive to disturbances while giving birth, and may even eat their own young if they think they are in danger, although sometimes they are just carrying the pups in their cheek pouches.[4] If captive female hamsters are left for extended periods (three weeks or more) with their litter, they may cannibalize the litter, so the litter must be removed by the time the young can feed and drink independently. Weaning An adult female and several juvenile dwarf hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) feeding

Hamsters are born hairless and blind in a nest the mother will have prepared in advance.[3] After one week, they begin to explore outside the nest. They are completely weaned after three weeks, or four for Roborovski hamsters. Most breeders will sell the hamsters to shops when they are three to nine weeks old. Longevity

Syrian hamsters typically live no more than two to three years in captivity, and less in the wild. Russian hamsters (Campbell's and Djungarian) live about two to four years in captivity, and Chinese hamsters 2.5-3.0 yr. The smaller Roborovski hamster often lives to three years in captivity.[1] Hamsters as pets A sable short-haired golden hamster

The best-known species of hamster is the golden or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), which is the type most commonly kept as pets. It is also sometimes called a "fancy" hamster. Pet stores also have taken to calling them "honey bears", "panda bears", "black bears", "European black bears", "polar bears", "teddy bears", and "Dalmatian", depending on their coloration. [12] Several variations, including long-haired varieties, grow hair several centimeters long and often require special care. British zoologist Leonard Goodwin claimed most hamsters kept in the United Kingdom were descended from the colony he introduced for medical research purposes during the Second World War.[13] A Russian dwarf hamster

Other hamsters kept as pets are the various species of "dwarf hamster". Campbell's dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli) is the most common — they are also sometimes called "Russian dwarfs"; however, many hamsters are from Russia, so this ambiguous name does not distinguish them from other species appropriately. The coat of the Djungarian or winter-white Russian dwarf hamster (Phodopus sungorus) turns almost white during winter (when the hours of daylight decrease).[3] The Roborovski hamster (Phodopus roborovskii) is extremely small

and fast, making it difficult to keep as a pet.[1] The Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus), although not technically a true "dwarf hamster", is the only hamster with a prehensile tail (about 4 cm long)[citation needed] —most hamsters have very short, nonprehensile tails.

Many breeders also show their hamsters, so breed towards producing a good, healthy, show hamster with a view to keeping one or two themselves, so quality and temperament are of vital importance when planning the breeding. Classification

Taxonomists generally disagree about the most appropriate placement of the subfamily Cricetinae within the superfamily Muroidea. Some place it in a family Cricetidae that also includes voles, lemmings, and New World rats and mice; others group all these into a large family called Muridae. Their evolutionary history is recorded by 15 extinct fossil genera and extends back 11.2 million to 16.4 million years to the Middle Miocene Epoch in Europe and North Africa; in Asia it extends 6 million to 11 million years. Four of the seven living genera include extinct species. One extinct hamster of Cricetus, for example, lived in North Africa during the Middle Miocene, but the only extant member of that genus is the European or common hamster of Eurasia.

Subfamily Cricetinae Genus Allocricetulus Species A. curtatus—Mongolian hamster Species A. eversmanni—Eversmann's or Kazakh hamster Genus Cansumys Species C. canus—Gansu hamster Genus Cricetulus Species C. alticola—Tibetan dwarf or Ladak hamster

Species C. barabensis, including "C. pseudogriseus" and "C. obscurus"—Chinese striped hamster, also called Chinese hamster; striped dwarf hamster Species C. griseus—Chinese (dwarf) hamster, also called rat hamster Species C. kamensis—Kam dwarf hamster or Tibetan hamster Species C. longicaudatus—long-tailed dwarf hamster Species C. migratorius—gray dwarf hamster, Armenian hamster, migratory grey hamster; grey hamster; migratory hamster Species C. sokolovi—Sokolov's dwarf hamster Genus Cricetus Species C. cricetus—European hamster, also called common hamster or black-bellied field hamster Genus Mesocricetus—golden hamsters Species M. auratus—golden or Syrian hamster Species M. brandti—Turkish hamster, also called Brandt's hamster; Azerbaijani hamster Species M. newtoni—Romanian hamster Species M. raddei—Ciscaucasian hamster Genus Phodopus—dwarf hamsters Species P. campbelli—Campbell's dwarf hamster Species P. roborovskii—Roborovski hamster Species P. sungorus—Djungarian hamster or winter-white Russian dwarf hamster Genus Tscherskia Species T. triton—greater long-tailed hamster, also called Korean hamster

Relationships among hamster species

Neumann et al. (2006) conducted a molecular phylogenetic analysis of 12 of the above 17 species using DNA sequence from three genes: 12S rRNA, cytochrome b, and von Willebrand factor. They uncovered the following relationships:[14]

Phodopus group

The genus Phodopus was found to represent the earliest split among hamsters. Their analysis included both species. The results of another study[15] suggest Cricetulus kamensis (and presumably the related C. alticola) might belong to either this Phodopus group or hold a similar basal position.

Mesocricetus group

The genus Mesocricetus also forms a clade. Their analysis included all four species, with M. auratus and M. raddei forming one subclade and M. brandti and M. newtoni another.

Remaining genera

The remaining genera of hamsters formed a third major clade. Two of the three sampled species within Cricetulus represent the earliest split. This clade contains C. barabensis (and presumably the related C. sokolovi) and C. longicaudatus.


The remaining clade contains members of Allocricetulus, Tscherskia, Cricetus, and C. migratorius. Allocricetulus and Cricetus were sister taxa. Cricetulus migratorius was their next closest relative, and Tscherskia was basal. Similar animals

Some similar rodents sometimes called "hamsters" are not currently classified in the hamster subfamily Cricetinae. These include the maned hamster, or crested hamster, which is really the maned rat (Lophiomys imhausi). Others are the mouse-like hamsters (Calomyscus spp.), and the white-tailed rat (Mystromys albicaudatus). Depictions in the Media

A television-obsessed character "Rhino" who is inspired by the main character Bolt in the movie of the same name was played by a hamster.[16] See also Wikinews has related news: Vietnam bans pet hamsters

Chinchilla Ebichu Gerbil Guinea pig Hampster Dance Hamster racing Hamtaro Rat

Tales of the Riverbank


^ a b c d e f Fox, Sue. 2006. Hamsters. T.F.H. Publications Inc. ^ Patricia Pope Bartlett ([2003). The Hamster Handbook. Barron's Educational Series. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-7641-2294-1. ^ a b c d e f g Barrie, Anmarie. 1995. Hamsters as a New Pet. T.F.H. Publications Inc., NJ ISBN 0-86622-610-9. ^ a b c d Fritzsche, Peter. 2008. Hamsters: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual. Barron’s Educational Series Inc., NY ISBN 07641-3927-4. ^ a b c d e Kuhnen, G. (2002). Comfortable quarters for hamsters in research institutions. In "Comfortable Quarters for Laboratory Animals" Eds V. Reinhardt and A. Reinhardt. Animal Welfare Institute, Washington DC. pp.33-37 ^ Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer (1774). Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des Hamsters. Dieterich. Retrieved 19 December 2011. ^ Douglas Harper, The Online Etymology Dictionary, entry for "hamster" ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. "hamster" (29 May 2008) ^ a b "hamster." Encyclopædia Britannica. Standard Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007. ^ torpor. Retrieved on 2011-12-18. ^ Gattermann, R., Fritzsche, P., Neumann, K., Al-Hussein, I., Kayser, A., Abiad, M. and Yakti, R., (2001). Notes on the current distribution and ecology of wild golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus). Journal of Zoology, 254: 359-365 ^ "Syrian Hamsters". Syrian Hamsters. 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-05.

^ "Leonard Goodwin – Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2009. ^ Neumann, K; Michaux, J; Lebedev, V; Yigit, N; Colak, E; Ivanova, N; Poltoraus, A; Surov, A et al. (2006). "Molecular phylogeny of the Cricetinae subfamily based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b and 12S rRNA genes and the nuclear vWF gene". Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 39 (1): 135–48. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.010. PMID 16483801. ^ Lebedev, V. S., N. V. Ivanova, N. K. Pavlova, and A. B. Poltoraus. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of the Palearctic hamsters. In Proceedings of the International Conference Devoted to the 90th Anniversary of Prof. I. M. Gromov on Systematics, Phylogeny and Paleontology of Small Mammals (A. Averianov and N. Abramson eds.). St. Petersburg. ^ _r=0

Hamsters were first discovered in Syria, but they are native to many parts of the world. The name they go by today is derived from the German word “hamstern,” which means “hoard”—because that is exactly what they do with any extra food they might find. Although their downright cuteness makes them popular with prospective pet parents, these animals have some special requirements that must be met in order for them to be happy and healthy. The most common pet hamster is the six-inch Syrian, also known as the golden hamster or teddy bear hamster. Syrians have a lifespan of two to three years. Dwarf species such as the Siberian, Roborovsky’s Djungarian, and Chinese are smaller than Syrians, at about two to three inches. They have an average lifespan of one to two years. Although they’ve been viewed as the quintessential pet for kids, hamsters are nocturnal by nature— which does not fit well into a young child’s schedule. If you are up in the wee small hours or won’t be bothered by your pet’s nightly digging, scratching and wheel-running, a hamster may fit in nicely in your home. Hamsters also have gained a reputation for biting, but they mostly tend to nip when awakened during the day—the time they are “biologically programmed” to sleep. Because of their nocturnal nature and tendency to nip, hamsters of any species are not appropriate pets for families with small

children. Children under the age of six should not be allowed to handle these fragile animals, and those over six should always be supervised by an adult.

When you first get your pet, you’ll need to spend $35 for a cage. Food runs about $50 a year, plus $20 annually for toys and treats, and $220 each year for litter and bedding material. The ASPCA recommends that you get your hamster from a responsible breeder or, better yet, adopt one from a shelter or small-animal rescue group. Call your local shelter and search on sites such as for hammies in need of loving homes.

When selecting a cage, keep in mind the golden rules of happy hamster housing. Syrian hamsters are solitary and MUST live alone. One Syrian hamster per cage—no exceptions! Dwarf hamsters are social, on the other hand, and like to live in pairs. Do not house male and female dwarf hamsters together, since rodents breed quickly—and often—with large litters. Keep your Syrian hamster in a wire cage or a ten-gallon aquarium with a wire-mesh top. The fancier cages with tubes, tunnels and hideaways are good, too, but they generally cost more and are harder to clean. If you have space for a larger cage, it will be much appreciated. Dwarf hamsters can be kept in a cage made for mice. The enclosure should be placed away from direct sunlight and drafts, and lined with an absorbent bedding such as timothy hay, aspen shavings, shredded paper or pelleted bedding. Do not use pine or cedar chips, as the fumes from these products can be harmful to your pets. Hamsters are big on exercise, so please make sure yours has a wheel for running. Hamsters also like to hide and sleep inside enclosed spaces, so you’ll need a small box with an entrance hole or a small flower pot for this purpose. And they love crawling through tubes, which can be homemade (empty cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper!) or purchased from a pet supply store. And finally, you may notice that your hammy is a major creature of comfort. Remember to regularly give him small pieces of paper towel or napkin to shred and make a nest with.

Your pet will do well on hamster mix, which contains seeds, grains, cracked corn and pellets, and is readily available at pet supply stores. The ASPCA recommends that you supplement your pet’s diet with fresh foods every two or three days. Try fresh grains, sunflower seeds and nuts (not too many, please, as these are high in fat), alfalfa pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, carrots and apples. Be sure to clean up any leftover fresh food before it spoils. Never give your pet raw kidney beans, onions, raw potato, rhubarb, chocolate, candy or junk food. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. It is best to use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, which should be changed daily. Curious hammy habit #1: Yes, your hammy will stuff his face (literally!) and then empty out whatever’s in his pouch for some late-night snacking. That’s why it’s important to check the corners of the cage for any hidden stashes when cleaning.

General Care

Don’t forget your housekeeping duties! Remove droppings, uneaten food and soiled bedding every day. Every week, remove and replace all the bedding, and scrub the bottom of the cage with hot, soapy water. A hamster’s teeth grow continuously, so your pet will need to chew—a lot—to keep his choppers in tip-top condition. Make sure he always has a piece of wood or twig that has not been treated with pesticides, other chemicals or paints. Pieces of dog biscuit will work well, too. It’s important to get your little guy (or gal) used to you, and used to being handled. Start by feeding your hamster treats; once he’s comfortable accepting treats from your hand, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first, and then gradually increase your time with him.

Once you’ve hand-tamed your hamster, every day you should let him play outside of the cage, in a secure, enclosed area, while you supervise. Be sure to remove any electrical wires from the area, and anything else your curious pet could, but shouldn’t, gnaw on.

Veterinary Care

If you think your pet is sick, don’t delay—seek medical attention immediately. Common signs that something isn’t right with your hamster may include dull-looking eyes, matted fur, weight loss, shaking, runny nose and diarrhea. Also note that hamsters seem to be susceptible to respiratory problems, especially the common cold, which they can catch from their human pet parents.

Hamster Supply Checklist
- 10-gallon aquarium (minimum) with wire cover, wire cage or plastic rodent habitat - Timothy hay, aspen shavings or pelleted bedding - Small boxes or flower pots - Exercise wheel (solid, no rungs) - Cardboard tubes (recycle from paper towel and toilet paper rolls) - Hamster mix - Attachable water bottle with drinking tube - Unpainted, untreated piece of wood or safe chew toy

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Memelihara hamster katanya susah. “Dua kali beli, dua kali mati,” kata teman Raisa yang dibenarkan oleh Mamahnya. “Kalau tidak bisa memelihara cepat mati,” kata Omang kemarin waktu berkunjung ke rumahku di Kalibata. Saya sendiri tidak merasa susah memelihara hamster. Awalnya, beberapa bulan lalu Shemissa membeli hamster kecil warna putih. Setelah agak besar perangainya menjadi agak galak dan suka menggigit. Kami sekeluarga lalu pergi ke Jl. Barito untuk melihatlihat berbagai jenis hamster yang dijual disana. Ternyata, hamster yang dibeli Shemissa adalah hamster lokal yang panjangnya kalau sudah besar bisa mencapai 10 cm. Kemudian saya membeli sepasang hamster, yang menurut penjualnya dari jenis Dominant Spot. Ciri-cirinya: (i) ada garis tengah warna hitam dari kepala hingga mendekati buntut, (ii) ada 3 kombinasi warna, yaitu hitam, coklat, dan putih, (iii) jinak dan tidak menggigit –tidak seperti jenis campbell atau hamster lokal, (iv) ukurannya tergolong sangat kecil dengan panjang dari depan hingga ekor hanya sekitar 5 centimeter sehingga nampak lucu. Pasangan hamster itu kini sudah beranak-pinak. Pertama pada tanggal 25 Desember 2007, si Momo, nama yang diberikan oleh Shemissa, melahirkan beberapa ekor. Pas ketahuan melahirkan, beberapa bayi hamster sudah dimakan oleh induknya. Ada 2 kepala bayi hamster yang tergeletak di tengah kandang. Saat itu saya belum tahu bagaimana cara merawatnya. Saya langsung konsultasi dengan penjualnya. Kata dia, kalau induknya stres memang suka memakan bayinya. Saran dia, langkah awal pisahkan dulu dari induknya yang jantan. Lalu saya beli satu kandang lagi, aquarium ikan hias yang ukurannya kira-kira panjang 40cm lebar 30cm dan tinggi 25 cm. Induk betina beserta 4 ekor anaknya yang tersisa saya pisahkan ke kandang baru itu. Saya beri potongan kain dan makanan yang cukup untuk beberapa hari. Saya letakkan di pojok rumah dan saya tutup luarnya dengan kain lebar, biar suasanya gelap seperti di terowongan sesuai kehidupan aslinya. Beberapa hari kemudian saya tengok, anaknya tinggal 2 ekor. Dua ekor ini , satu jantan dan satu betina, kemudian tumbuh besar hingga sekarang. Yang betina malah sudah melahirkan 4 ekor pada 27 Pebruari lalu. Sementara itu, induk betina yang pertama saya beli, si Momo, sudah memberikan anak lagi pada 25 Januari 2008 sebanyak 7 ekor (2 ekor sudahdijual oleh Shemissa kepada teman-temannya dan 2 ekor diminta Dita), dan pada 25 Pebruari melahirkan lagi sebanyak 7 ekor. Saat ini, di rumah ada 11 ekor bayi hamster yang lucu-lucu. ***

Bagaimana sih cara merawat hamster agar bisa bertahan hidup dan beranak-pinak seperti itu? Beberapa tips memelihara hamster bisa saya sebut sebagai berikut:

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Usahakan kandang selalu bersih dan kering. Gunakan pasir atau butiran batu yang biasa dijual di tempat penjualan hamster sebagai alasnya. Pasir ini berguna untuk mengeringkan kandang dari air kencing dan menghilangkan bau air kencing itu sendiri. Pasir ini juga bisa dipakai hamster untuk mandi sehingga bulunya terlihat rapih, kering, dan tidak bau. Ganti pasir ini setiap minggu atau 2 minggu sekali dengan pasir baru. Setelah seminggu atau dua minggu, pasir ini akan terlihat kotor karena bercampur dengan kotoran dan sisa makanan. Jika mau sedikit repot, pasir yang sudah terpakai bisa dicuci, dikeringkan, dan dipakai ulang. Cara mencucinya, pasir bekas pakai tadi direndam dulu agar kotoran dan sisa makanan mengambang sehingga mudah untuk dibuang dan dipisahkan dari pasirnya. Beri makanan dan minuman yang cukup. Untuk makanan, saya memberi kuaci atau tumbukan kacang tanah yang sudah dikupas kulitnya. Untuk minuman, sesuai saran penjualnya, jangan beri air langsung, tetapi beri kecambah (tauge) setiap pagi dan sore. Dengan demikian, kandang bisa terus kering sepanjang hari. Banyak orang memberi minum dengan air sehingga kandang menjadi basah dan hamster mudah sakit dan mati. Tambahkan makanan baru hanya jika makanan yang sudah ditaburkan atau disediakan di tempat makanan sudah habis termakan. Ini untuk menjaga kebersihan agar tidak banyak sisa makanan berserakan di dalam kandang. Jika induk betina melahirkan, pisahkan dari hamster pejantan atau hamster lainnya, dan perbanyak makan kecambah. Ciri-ciri hamster betina yang akan melahirkan terlihat dari bentuk perutnya yang membuncit dan si induk seperti gelisah mondar-mandir dalam kandang dengan tingkat keaktifan yang lebih tinggi dari biasanya. Jangan lupa beri potongan kain untuk membuat sarang buat bayibayi hamster yang akan dilahirkan.

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