The Black mutation of the Syrian Hamster occurred in 1985-86 in France. It was later obtained by Hamster Fanciers in Scandinavia.
As with all show hamsters in Europe it was carefully bred in order to obtain good sized and docile offspring. Black Syrian Hamsters were later exported to other fanciers in the UK and Holland where they were again carefully bred by exhibitors for show qualities eg short wide head, good size, docility, etc.
Later Black Syrian Hamsters were exported from Europe into the USA. The US breeders who obtained the Black Syrian Hamster, not familiar with the size and quality of Syrian Hamsters bred for showing in Europe, were amazed at its size and docility and some thought that because of this it was a different species but it is not. Confusion has further been added by some breeders misleadingly labelling the Black Syrian Hamster as "Black Bear" or "European Black Bear" thus giving the impression it is a species other than the Syrian Hamster. The name "European Black Bear" is particularly misleading as it has caused the Black Syrian to be confused with the European Hamster which is not kept in captivity as a pet.
The Black Syrian Hamster is jet black to the roots in colour on the back, sides and belly with a white stripe under the chin and white feet. The Black can vary in colour slightly and so some are "blacker" than others. Often the Black may also have a white spot or patch on the chest or belly. The eyes are black and the ears are dark grey. Young Blacks are often dark but as the hamster matures the colour may become slightly brown-black or blue-black.
The Black can be combined with any coat type and pattern to produce Long Haired Blacks, Black Banded, etc.