Syrian Hamster – everything you need to know

Golden hamsters, also known as Syrian hamsters can grow up to 18cm in length with females being slightly larger than the males. Adults are fiercely territorial and should be housed individually due to the frequent and fierce fighting with other hamsters.

Housing your hamster

There are many houses available on the market; we recommend either a large glass or plastic tank with a secure ventilated lid, or a wire cage. The well known tunnel systems are not recommended as fatter or pregnant hamsters can sometimes get stuck in the tubes. Plus, this cage type is also difficult to access for cleaning.

Experience has taught us that wire cages are best for Syrians. If you are going to get one with bars then we suggest you try and get black bars as they are easier to see your pet through than white bars.

Although the tank style cages are popular due to their ease of cleaning and the inability of even the most determined hamster to kick sawdust out of it, Syrians like having bars to climb and barred cages act as a good way of keeping them fit.  Please buy the biggest cage you can afford as hamsters love to run around, however three tier cages can be dangerous if the hamster falls.

You should always aim to house your hamster in a quiet and dimly lighted area of the house. The cage should also be situated away from other pets such as cats and dogs.  Hamsters will thrive satisfactorily in temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while very cold temperatures may send hamsters into hibernation. If this happens gently warm them in your hands to wake them.

Avoid drafts, excess humidity and drastic changes in temperature, such as in an air-conditioned room, bathroom or laundry room, as they can contribute to respiratory problems. Do not situate the cage (or tank especially) near a window where the sun can shine on it all day or in a conservatory as this can cause heatstroke.

Toys that’ll keep him busy

  • Exercise Wheel

Getting an exercise wheel for the cage is essential and cannot be over emphasised, hamsters are naturally active and will run many miles a night given the opportunity.

  • Exercise Ball

An exercise ball for use outside the cage is also a good investment as it gives the opportunity for additional exercise and stimulation for the animal, and is a good safe source of entertainment for youngsters and adults alike.

Lifespan

Although Syrian hamsters live for anything between 1.5 and 3 years, they make great pets for children. They need gentle handling, especially at the beginning. In time, your hamster will allow you to cuddle him without problems.

Just some of the factors that affect how long a Syrian hamster will live are:

  • Species
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Living environment
  • Illness
  • Quality of care

Breeding

This is certainly not something to do without giving it serious thought, pregnant hamsters can give birth to litters of up to 22 hamsters although the average size of litter is around 11 babies.

Hamsters can become pregnant at just 8 weeks old and have the shortest pregnancy of any mammal at just 16 days.  We would not advise breeding hamsters until they are at least 12 weeks, because although it is possible earlier it may well lead to problems during the pregnancy, often resulting in mother and babies being very ill or dying.