|Scientific Name||Mesocricetus Auratus|
|Top Speed||6km/h (4mph)|
|Conservation Status||Least Concern|
|Colour||Tan, Brown, White, Black|
|Habitat||Dry deserts and sand dunes|
|Average Litter Size||8|
|Main Prey||Seeds, Nuts, Berries|
|Predators||Owl, Hawk, Snakes|
|Special Features||Food storage pouches and the ability to run backwards|
HamsterHamsters are thought to be originally from the desert lands of east Asia, including hamster species such as the common Syrian hamster and the miniature Russian dwarf hamster. Hamsters in the wild tend to spend most of their time digging and foraging for food.
Today, hamsters are commonly kept as pets with the average household hamster getting to around 2 or 3 years old. Hamsters are thought to be easy first pets to keep for children due to the hamsters quite nature, small size and calm temperament.
Hamsters in the wild are nocturnal animals as the hamsters spend the daytime hours in burrows underground in order for the hamster to avoid the many predators within the natural environment of the hamster.The hamster will leave the safety of its underground burrow in the night when it is dark and the temperature is cooler in order to search for food.
Hamsters use their large cheek pouches to store food that the hamster finds so that the hamster can take the food back to the stash in the underground burrow. Nuts, seeds, vegetables, grass, fruits and berries are all part of the natural diet of the hamster.
There are more than 20 different species of hamster found in the wild (and even more in the commercial pet market). The Russian dwarf hamster are among the smallest species of hamster with adult Russian dwarf hamsters rarely growing to more than 10cm in length. The more common Syrian hamster is the largest species of hamster and some Syrian hamster individuals have been known to grow to nearly 30cm long, although the average size of a Syrian hamster is normally around 20cm.
Many species of hamster are very fast at running so that they are able to escape from oncoming predators. Due to the shape and size of the hind feet of the hamster, hamsters are often able to run as quickly backwards as they can forwards, which the allows the hamsters to escape easily in their burrows.
Hamsters inhabit semi-desert regions around the world with the soft ground providing an excellent material for the hamster to burrow in. The burrow of a hamster often consists of many tunnels and chambers, including separate areas for the hamster to eat and sleep in.
Hamster Foot Facts
- The hamster has two front feet that are shaped more like hands and the hamster uses its front feet to hold and forage for food.
- The two back feet of the hamster are slightly larger than the front feet and are used to balance and support the hamster when it sits up.
- The delicate shape of the back feet of the hamster enable the hamster to run not only forwards but also backwards so that the hamster can easily escape into burrows.
- The hands of the hamster are well adapted to their purpose as they have five toes on each hand, where the feet of the hamster only have three.
- Hamsters have soft pads on the bottom of their paws that help them to run smoothly, and long nails on the end of each toe which helps the hamster to grip.
Hamster Teeth Facts
- As hamsters are rodents, their teeth are growing all the time so hamsters must grind their teeth down to stop them from getting too long by gnawing on something hard.
- Hamsters have 16 teeth that continuously grow to give the hamster an advantage if it loses a tooth.
- Unlike many other species of animal baby hamsters are born with a full set of teeth and keep the same teeth for their whole lives.
- Hamsters have cheek pouches that they store food in when they are out foraging and empty their pouches later on so that they can eat their stored food.
- A hamster is able to carry its own bodyweight in food in its cheeks and takes then creates secret stashes of food to ensure that the hamster never runs out.