Hamsters are one of our favorite pets! They spin around in their little wheel all day long, munch on their food ‘til they pack their cheeks out, and give us endless laughs! Ever thought about what’s beyond the rolling wheel, the puffy cheeks, and laughs? Yes? Then read on and learn a little more about your furry companion. Here are 68 facts about hamsters.
Fact 1: Hamsters are classified as rodents and are therefore part of the ‘Rodentia’ order. Typically animals in this order have incisors that are always growing, they are not huge in size, and are found almost anywhere in the world – except for Antarctica!
Fact 2: Hamsters belong to the ‘Cricetinae’ sub-family which is said to be part of the super-family ‘muroidea’.
Fact 3: Today, hamsters are classified as ‘small house pets’. Although, there are still many hamsters running around in the wild as we speak!
Fact 4: All hamsters are excellent at constructing burrows and digging deep into the ground to create safe and secure homes for themselves. They’re also pretty good at creating underground tunnels and storage larders to keep their food away from other animals.
Fact 5: The name ‘hamster’ is a word that has been used across the years by various different languages, just with a slight change in spelling. For example, in German, the word for hamster is ‘hamastra’.
Fact 6: ‘Hamster shows’ are a real thing! These shows are for hamster enthusiasts – as you can imagine. At these shows, there are usually competitions, exhibitions, and people just go and talk about hamsters!
Fact 7: The successful breeding of hamsters occurred in 1939.
Fact 8: Hamsters come in various colors. These include:
- Mixed colors
Fact 9: The ‘Golden’ or ‘Syrian’ hamster is the most popular and known type of hamster. These types are also the ones that are often kept as pets too.
Fact 10: Types of dwarf hamsters are:
- Campbell’s dwarf hamster
- Roborovski hamster
- Winter White dwarf hamster
Fact 11: Hamsters are ‘crepuscular’ creatures. This means that they are active during twilight/ nighttime. This is likely because their predators are asleep, so there isn’t such a high threat to them at night. However, given that in the wild they spend a lot of time underground, there is a possibility that they could be awake and they just pop out at twilight for fresh air!
Fact 12: Although you might be fooled by the name, the ‘Mouse-like hamster’ is not an actual hamster.
Fact 13: In the wild hamsters hide from predators during the day under the ground. Hamsters actually create really comfortable living conditions under the ground for themselves, so it’s not so bad!
Fact 14: It is thought that a lot of Syrian and Golden hamsters are descendants of the first breeding pair of hamsters that were used all the way back in 1939.
Fact 15: The Syrian hamster hardly ever lives for more than 3 years when in captivity.
Fact 16: A Syrian hamster can breed when it is 5 weeks old.
Fact 17: The ‘Phodopus’ genus of hamster is usually thought to be the smallest living hamster around the globe as it is classified as being made up from ‘dwarf hamsters’.
Fact 19: A hamsters burrow is typically 0.7m below ground. Nice and snuggled in!
Fact 20: Hamsters are omnivores. This means that they eat seeds, fruit, vegetation, and sometimes insects.
Fact 21: The actual smallest recorded hamster at present, according to The Guinness World Records, is the ‘Roborovski’ hamster. This tiny little hamster only grows to about 4 cm in length.
Fact 22: Hamsters were domesticated and kept as pets in the USA in 1942. Since then they have become some of the world’s most favorite pets, behind dog and cat, of course.
Fact 23: Hamsters have problems seeing far away. This makes it very hard for them to judge anything that isn’t close to them. In this case, they rely heavily on their other senses to guide them from danger.
Fact 24: Hamsters have ‘cheek pouches’ where they store food! We’re all likely to have seen a picture of a hamster with really puffy cheeks! The reason for this is because this is where they store their food!
Fact 25: Hamsters are covered in fur, and have short legs and wide feet!
Fact 26: Baby hamsters are actually born with no hair and are blind. Their fur starts to grow soon after birth and their short-sightedness soon follows!
Fact 27: A female hamster is called a ‘doe’.
Fact 28: A collection of hamsters is known as a ‘horde’.
Fact 29: Hamsters are also classified as ‘mammals’. A mammal typically has mammary glands that produce milk to feed their offspring, have fur or hair, have a neocortex, and have 3 middle-ear bones.
Fact 30: Baby hamsters are sometimes called ‘pups’.
Fact 31: Hamsters are colorblind.
Fact 32: Chinese hamsters breed when they are about 3 months old. This is actually quite old as some hamsters are ready to have pups when they are only 3 weeks old.
Fact 33: A hamster’s teeth grow continuously throughout their life, and they must constantly chew on things to keep the teeth from growing too long.
Fact 34: The Guinness World Record for the oldest hamster goes to a hamster who lived in the UK. This little hamster, who doesn’t have a name, reportedly lived to be 4.5 years old.
Fact 35: As they have poor eyesight, hamsters will wave their ears in the air to hear noises around them. Neat trick!
Fact 36: Hamsters are traditionally thought of as ‘mature’ when they are 3 weeks old. At this point they are deemed old enough to take care of themselves, and they are feeding on regular food.
Fact 37: The first breeding pair of hamsters were likely to have been brother and sister.
Fact 38: Hamsters don’t like it when the temperature is too hot, and hamsters don’t like it when it’s too cold. About 18-24 °C is good for them!
Fact 39: Female hamsters are fertile for about 18 months. Males, on the other hand, are fertile for most of their lives.
Fact 40: Hamsters should not be fed foods like:
- Meals that are high in salt
Fact 41: The largest known hamster is the European hamster. This ‘little one’ can measure anywhere up to 34cm (not including a tail)! It normally has a tail that is 6cm in length too. Phew… that’s not far off the size of a small cat!
Fact 42: Fossil genera of hamsters date back to about 11.2 – 16.4 million years ago. They were found in the middle Miocene Epoch in Europe.
Fact 43: Hamsters communicate by giving off scents and by using their body language.
Fact 44: Given their poor sight, hamsters have developed a keen sense of hearing. Some say that hamsters can hear all the way up to an ultrasonic range! That’s basically saying, a hamster could potentially hear an unborn baby in its pregnant mother’s stomach!
Fact 45: There are actually 26 species of hamster around the world. Aside from the ones we have already discussed, here are some examples:
- Chinese striped hamster
- Grey dwarf hamster
- Romanian hamster
- Tibetan dwarf hamster
Fact 46: A typical female hamster gives birth to a litter of 6-12 pups in one go. In some cases up to 20 pups can be born.
Fact 47: It is not uncommon for hamsters to eat peanut butter. But, this isn’t always a good food to feed them as it can sometimes get stuck in their cheeks.
Fact 48: Hamsters can sense movement around them all the time. This is why they know when their owner is near them and when a stranger is near instead. This particular feature works well in the wild when they need to be cautious of predators.
Fact 49: Hamsters of the Syrian or Golden origin have this scientific name ‘Mesocricetus auratus’.
Fact 50: A male hamster is known as a ‘buck’.
Fact 51: Female hamsters go through a process called the ‘estrus’ cycle every 4 days. At this time the female hamster will start making hissing noises, and will start to squeak loudly for males in the area to hear her mating calls.
Fact 52: In the wild, hamsters do hibernate. They can do this for a few days or up to a whole week.
Fact 53: Within the ‘Cricetinae’ sub-family there are even more sub-groups more commonly known as ‘genus’. These are:
Fact 54: Too many hamsters in one place can be quite stressful for the hamsters living in the group. It might be okay for same-sex sibling to live together, but there is a chance they won’t get along together.
Fact 55: Female hamsters are known to get quite angry towards male hamsters after a mating session! In some cases, the female might actually cause serious harm to the male if he is not removed fast enough.
Fact 56: People are usually known as hoarders, but hamsters are also given this name! Hamsters love to hoard food in their cheeks, and will actively pack in as much food as they can in preparation for a ‘lack of food’.
Fact 57: Hamsters are able to distinguish the sound of their owner’s voice over time. This is likely to be a feature associated with hamsters being wild years ago. In the wild, hamsters need to be able to distinguish the sound of a predator, an easy way to do this is listen out for the sound they make!
Fact 58: A hamsters’ tail is generally shorter than its body.
Fact 59: Hamsters have scent glands. They use these to leave scent trails on objects and surfaces so they know where they are at a given time. This has been developed to be more sensitive, given that they cannot see where they are all the time.
Fact 60: A hamster’s fur is usually really soft.
Fact 61: Some female hamsters have been known to eat their young pups if they haven’t been separated fast enough after birth. It seems that it’s not just the gentleman that suffers then!
Fact 62: The hamster wheel is a wheel that spins and is used by hamsters! The wheel is a simple design that is used to keep hamsters fit and healthy! The little hamster hops into the wheel and runs around for exercise! Great fun!
Fact 63: When hibernating a Syrian hamster reduces its metabolic rate so much its heart only beats a few times a minute.
Fact 64: A Chinese hamster’s tail is the same size as its body length.
Fact 65: ‘Hamster racing’ is real! As the name states, this event is when hamsters race against each other. The hamsters are usually placed in a little wheel and are set on a track. The fastest one to the end of the track is the winner.
Fact 66: The ‘Roborovski dwarf’ hamster has a gestation period of about 22 days. The Virginia opossum beats this though, with a gestation period that is only 12 days long.
Fact 67: Hamsters are quite happy on their own and don’t really require the company of other hamsters.
Fact 68: Syrian hamsters do not hibernate if they are a house pet.