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Five Facts about Hamsters

Robos in a bath
26 December, 2019

Do you love hamsters?

Are you on the lookout for more hamster information?

Find out more about our wonderful pets with these five fun facts with a twist! Just read and enjoy, or click on the links to dive deeper.


Hoard or Horde?

Many fact lists include the fact that the word hamster comes from the German word hamstern which means ‘to hoard’ because of their love of stashing food. However I had a different word in mind: horde. This is the collective noun, the word you would use to describe a group of hamsters.


Breed or Species?

The different types of hamster are different species of hamster. They are not different breeds of the same species unlike dogs where all dogs are members of the species Canis familiaris whether they are a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd Dog. There are currently 18 different hamster species which belong to 7 genera.

Only five of the species are commonly kept as pets: Mesocricetus auratus (Syrian), Phodopus campbelli (Campbell), Phodopus sungorus (Winter White), Phodopus roborovskii (Roborovski) and Cricetulus barabensis (Chinese).

If you thought the Chinese hamster was Cricetulus griseus, click here to read more about the taxonomy of Chinese hamsters.



Big or Small?

The biggest hamster species is 19 times heavier and 2.6 times longer than the smallest! The biggest hamster species is the European hamster which has an average body weight of 445g and length of 221mm. The smallest hamster species is the Roborovski hamster which weighs 23g on average and measures 85.7mm in length. These measurements were taken from a paper referring to wild caught hamsters not captive bred ones. You may find that your robo is bigger than these figures!


Day or Night?

Wild hamsters are more active at dawn and dusk than in the middle of the day or night. This is described as being crepuscular. Interestingly, hamsters in captivity tend to have more nocturnal behaviour patterns. A study notes that the change from crepuscular to nocturnal behaviour happens by four weeks after capturing wild caught Syrian hamsters so it is thought to be an environmental change rather than a genetic change through captive breeding.


Vegetarian or Meat-Eater?

Contrary to popular opinion, hamsters are not vegetarian! In the wild, the species commonly kept as pets eat a range of foods including fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and some animal protein, for example insects. Hamsters in captivity also enjoy a meaty treat – mealworms, crickets or even a little cooked chicken. For more information on treats you can feed your hamster click here.

Do you have a favourite hamster fact? Share it with me below or on the Vectis Hamstery Facebook page!

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