The Syrian hamster is the most common of the hamster species kept as a pet and the hamster most widely seen in pet shops. They make excellent pets for both children and adults.
As the name suggest the Syrian hamster originates from Syria and was also originally known as the Golden hamster due to its wild golden brown colouring. However, today there are many different colour, pattern and coat varieties of the Syrian hamster and these have led to other nicknames being used over the years such as Standard or Fancy hamster, 'Teddy Bear Hamsters' for the long haired Syrian hamster, 'Alien Hamster' for the hairless Syrian Hamster and 'Black Bear' or 'European Black Bear' for the black Syrian hamster.
The Syrian hamster has expandable cheek pouches on both sides of its face that extend back towards the shoulder in which it will place food and bedding to carry back to its nest. Once there the hamster will push out the contents through its mouth by massaging the cheek pouches with its paws. A Syrian hamster can carry up to half its own body weight in grain in its cheekpouches.
The Syrian Hamster is approximately 6-7 inches in length when full grown with females usually slightly larger than males. It has a short head with large eyes and round, delicate ears and a blunt muzzle. The body of the Syrian hamster is stocky with a very short tail that is barely visible and it has short legs and hairless feet with four toes on the front feet and five on the back feet.
The Syrian Hamster is a solitary animal and as it matures it develops a territorial nature that means it will not usually live with another hamster past 6-10 weeks of age. It is nocturnal, usually waking during the evening and being most active at night.
The average lifespan of the Syrian Hamster is 2-2½ years although they can live longer and up to 3-4 years is not too unusual.