Hamsters originate from Syria and other parts of the Middle East where their existence is threatened by destruction of their habitat and predation by owls.

In the Middle East they are known as the “originator of saddle bags” because of their often distended cheek pouches which are used by hamsters to float on water simply by inflating them with air. The evertable cheek pouches has other functions such as food transport, conveyance of bedding material, females hide their youngsters in them and, in research laboratories, the pouch tissue provides a privileged site for immunological scientific work with the induction of cancer and tissue transplants.

Hamsters are pugnacious characters but when temperatures drop below 8’C and daylight length shortens they go into isolation, store their food and pseudo-hibernate for lengthy periods. Handling them during this sensitive period is not advised as it makes them more aggressive than usual. Also, hamsters are deep sleepers and may appear to be almost dead at times. Hamsters are highly aggressive towards other hamsters and should not be housed together. Even after mating the male must be removed from the cage. In order to accommodate many hamsters in the same cage there must be vast amounts of space with a varied habitat containing many places of refuge and tunnels and preferably, the hamsters must have grown up together so that they can tolerate each other up to puberty.

Hamsters are nocturnal so it is inappropriate for children to play with these pets during the day.

Hamsters eat their own faeces 20 times in a 24-hour cycle.

Every cage must have a wheel to allow running exercise and avoid obesity. Hamsters can run 8 to 12 kilometers in one night.

Their lifespan is an average of 563 days but some can attain 2-3 years under ideal captive conditions.

As small as these creatures are female hamsters are endowed with 12-17 mammary glands

A hamster must not be carried around by children! If it becomes startled by a strange sound or threat it may jump out the child’s hands, fall to the ground and suffer a permanent disability (pelvis or leg fracture) or be fatal. They must be played with at ground level.

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