Syrian Hamsters

This is the animal that most people think of when they hear the word “hamster”. The species originates in the Middle East, especially Israel and Syria. All Syrian hamsters in captivity are descended from a mother and her twelve pups that were dug out of a burrow near Aleppo, Syria, in 1930. Adults are fiercely territorial and will attack any other hamster they meet.

Fully-grown Syrian hamsters are about 13cm in length, with females being slightly larger than males. The natural colour is golden brown with pale greyish white belly. Black cheek flashes mark the jaw line and a broad, dark band runs across the chest.

Well-handled Syrian hamsters make excellent pets. Since they are bigger than the other species, they can cope with more handling before they get tired. They also seem more responsive to what is going on around them. Many exhibitors feel that females have more “get up and go” in their characters than males, (who tend to be more laid back). On average, however, females do not live as long as males.

Syrian hamsters are solitary and must be kept alone, while other species can usually be kept in groups of their own kind. In captivity over forty different colours have been developed, together with variations in coat type such as longhair, satinised and rex, (curly or wavy). Here are just a few examples:

Black eyed Cream
Smoke Pearl
Black Tortoiseshell and
White Shorthaired
Satin Sable Roan