Pet Hamster Species: Syrian Hamsters Also Called Golden Hamsters

When you hear the word “hamster”, the image that usually comes to mind is the Syrian, golden or “standard” hamster. No matter what you call them, Syrian hamsters are palm sized short-haired rodents with intelligent eyes and an endearing expression. They were originally from the deserts of the Middle East, hence their name. This is the first species of hamster to be considered domesticated. All pet Syrian hamsters descend from one female caught in 1930.


Syrian hamsters are solitary and territorial. As a general rule, they should be kept just one to a cage. Although littermates of the same sex have been known to happily co-exist throughout their lives, this is the exception rather than the rule. Even a male and female Syrian hamster will fight when it’s not time to mate.

Syrian hamsters in the wild and in captivity are nocturnal creatures and prefer to sleep the day away. They can only modify this behavior a little bit. When I worked the graveyard shift, the hamsters knew I came home at about seven in the morning. They woke up and immediately began demanding breakfast in order to catch me before I went to sleep.

Syrian hamsters are the Einsteins of the rodent world. I don’t have any scientific studies to back up this claim, but after living with many species of rodents, I am most impressed with the Syrian hamster’s ability to train their people. When you look into the eyes of some other rodent species, they seem to be mindless. But when you look into a hamster’s eyes, you can see those wheels turning.


Wild Syrian hamsters only come with a sandy golden coat with a white belly. Soon after conquering humans, different colors began popping up. These include black, white, black and white (known as black banded), tri-color, cream, cinnamon, cinnamon and white (known as cinnamon banded), various shades of gray and a lovely peaches and cream color.

Although Syrians originally have short coats, long haired varieties (often called teddies) can be easily found today. There is also a hairless Syrian hamster available in the pet market today, but this is not a type recommended for first-time hamster owners because they have very stringent health needs.

Advantages As A Pet

Syrian hamsters are recommended for first-time hamster owners and even first time pet owners. They don’t require a lot of food or demand constant interaction with you. They aren’t small enough to be easily lost or injured as the dwarf hamster can be. They are also one of the most people-friendly species of pet hamsters, provided you are patient, never wake them when they are sleeping and don’t demand miracles from your hamster.

They are also the longest living of pet hamster species. Dwarf hamster species live only one or two years, while Syrian hamsters often reach three years of age with proper care and luck.

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