Syrian Hamster

Syrian Hamster Breed Profile

Origin Syria, Turkey
Genus Mesocricetus
Scientific name Mesocricetus auratus
Size 4.8-6.2 in (12-16 cm)
Color See below: teddy, cream, dominant spot, satin, banded
Lifespan 1.5-2 years
Personality Can be lazy but generally docile, robust
How to keep them Separately

Characteristics

The Syrian hamster is also called the golden hamster. This is the main Syrian hamster from which all the other kinds are bred. The images in this article show the Syrian hamster in its “wild” form with characteristic rusty brown fur on the back and a light/white belly, dark cheek stripes, tulip-shaped ears and large, black eyes.

Syrian Hamsters Are the Biggest!

Syrian hamsters are the biggest hamsters that you can keep as pets. They grow to between 4.2-6.2 in (12-16 cm) long and weigh 2.8-5.3 oz (80-150 g). If that means nothing to you: they are around as big and as heavy as two to three Snickers bars. The European hamster can grow larger, up to 13 in (34 cm) long, but isn’t suitable as a pet.

Fur and Color

The Syrian hamster comes in various “editions”, colors and fur patterns. The colors have cool names like “chocolate”, “caramel” and “cinnamon”. They can be one color or multi-colored. You can get short-haired animals, long-haired “teddies” and hamsters with shimmering satin fur or even curly “rex” fur.

Syrian hamsters come in the following colors:

Syrian Hamster Syrian Hamster - Photo: VeryOlive/Shutterstock

Which Hamster is Better For Me: a Syrian Hamster or a Dwarf Hamster?

If you’ve decided to get a pet hamster, you “only” have to decide whether to get a Syrian hamster or a dwarf hamster. Are there pros and cons or are all hamsters roughly the same? Syrian hamsters are actually different from the dwarves, especially when it comes to:

• Activity:

Syrian hamsters are much calmer and not as active as the lively Campbell dwarf hamster or the Roborovski dwarf hamster, which constantly flits about. So it might not be quite as exciting to watch a Syrian hamster. But a “slow-paced” hamster is easier to handle, e.g. if you have to pick it up or clean its toilet.

• Character:

Okay, so Syrian hamsters can be a little grumpy. But everyone has their bad days, right? They’re still the friendliest hamsters - compared to the dwarves - and don’t generally bite your fingers when you get close.

• Size:

Syrian hamsters are almost twice the size of dwarf hamsters. So they need larger cages and more space to exercise outside the cage.

Syrian Hamsters Aren’t the Only Hamsters in the Mesocricetus Genus

The hamsters listed above are just types of Syrian hamster. There are still other hamsters that are part of the same genus and which are classed as separate species: the Turkish hamster (mesocricetus brandti), the Ciscaucasian hamster (mesocricetus raddei) and the Romanian hamster (mesocricetus newtoni). But these aren’t commonly kept as pets.

Did You Know?

The “Syrian” hamster gets its name because it comes from the Syrian-Turkish border.

You can find out more about the Syrian hamster in the Syrian Hamster factsheet.

Syrian Hamster Syrian Hamster - Photo: Alexruss/Shutterstock

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