10 Incredible Hamster Facts

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: June 12, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Tatiana
Share this post on:

Today, we will examine some amazing facts about the hamster, a common household pet. The term “hamster” is derived from the German word “hamstern,” which literally translates to “hoard.” This is because hamsters have a propensity for storing food in their cheeks and burrows. Now, let’s explore ten more fascinating facts about the hamster below!

1. Discovered In The 1700s With 18 Distinct Species

female hamster
Hamsters have 18 distinct species.

Adrin Shamsudin/Shutterstock.com

Wild hamsters were originally identified in the 1700s, and there are now at least 18 distinct species. They are commonly found in China, Romania, Greece, Belgium, and Syria, to name just a few.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Syrian hamsters are endangered. The European or Eurasian hamster, also known as a black-bellied hamster, and common hamster, is the only species in the Cricetus genus (Cricetus cricetus).

2. Wild Hamsters Are Endangered

Sunburst hamster food
Hamsters are becoming gradually extinct.

polya_olya/Shutterstock.com

A 75 percent drop in the population of European hamsters in France’s Alsace area, Germany, and Eastern Europe is due to fewer offspring produced by female hamsters. Hamsters may become extinct because of a combination of factors, including global warming and the rise of the industry as well as light pollution and crops.

3. Some Hamsters Are Rare To Keep As Pets

An extremely rare and vulnerable wild hamster is in desperate need of conservation efforts. Europe and Western Asia had a large population of European hamsters, also referred to as common hamsters before. European hamsters are rarely kept as pets in the United States. It is the world’s rarest hamster. In 2020, it was added to the IUCN’s “critically endangered” list, which further lowered its population. By 2050, they could be extinct.

4. Hamsters Are Intelligent

dwarf hamster under leaf, in grass
Hamsters can remember their names.

iStock.com/hikaru1222

The creatures are capable of learning and remembering their own names. Your hamster will learn to correlate words with items and behaviors if you talk to it. You can get hamsters that can be trained to use the litter box if you are looking for a small pet. They are quite clean and don’t like to defecate all over the place. However, hamsters can solve mazes and other problems, unlike rats.

5. Hamsters Have Poor Eyesight

What Do Hamsters Eat
Hamsters are blind when born, and their eyesight is not great as adults.

tanya_morozz/Shutterstock.com

When hamsters are born, they are completely blind. As they get older, their eyesight improves, but not by much. They are also color blind. When they can’t see, they rely on their noses and whiskers to find their way around. They, on the other hand, have an incredible nose!

Once their eyesight develops, they eventually have superior night vision to humans. However, in bright light, the hamster is almost completely blind. Beyond a few inches, they have 20/400 vision. Objects greater than 3-4 inches in diameter appear blurry and hazy to a hamster. The lack of color vision in hamsters is because their eyes have 97% rod receptors and only 3% cone receptors.

6. Hamsters Have Incredibly Unique Teeth

What Do Hamsters Eat
Hamsters have teeth that do not stop growing.

Kavaleuskaya Aksana/Shutterstock.com

When a hamster is born, it has a complete set of 16 teeth. There is no distinction between baby and adult teeth; they only have one set of teeth throughout their lives. They have two upper and two lower incisors on each side. In place of canine teeth, hamsters have an opening between their incisor and cheek teeth, which is known as a diastema.

Always have chew toys and sticks on hand to keep their teeth in shape, as they never stop growing! If the teeth are overly long, a veterinarian can shorten them.

7. Hamsters Have Pouches That Have Multiple Uses

10 Animals That Hoard - hamster
A hamster nearly doubles the size of its head when hoarding food in its pouches.

Did you know hamsters can store 20% of their weight in their cheeks? These pouches, called ‘displostomes,’ are not just used for storing food. Mother hamsters can carry their young in them as well! Displostomes can make a hamster’s cheeks 2–3 times its head size! In the wild, the hamster travels far with full cheeks to avoid predators by returning to the nest often.

8. Hamsters Are Quite Nimble

European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), Czech republic
Hamsters are quite nimble and energetic.

Lubomir Novak/Shutterstock.com

When sprinting backward, hamsters may match their speed when sprinting forwards! Many mammals are unable to perform this. Hamsters in empty or small cages may pace and circle excessively due to stress and boredom. Backflips or backward somersaults are a technique for them to stay entertained.

9. Some Hamsters Prefer To Be Alone

baby hamster siblings
Hamsters can be solitary.

iStock.com/Olga Skred

Hamsters used to live in the desert, but now many people keep them as pets. Because food and water are scarce in the desert, hamsters have learned to keep other hamsters away from their home and resources.

Since Syrian hamsters live alone in the wild, it is not a good idea to keep them with other hamsters in a home. They will fight it out with the other members of the group. They have to be taken away from their littermates when they are 4–5 weeks old to keep them from fighting and getting hurt.

It is preferable for dwarf hamsters to live in groups of two or more, but only if they were raised together and of the same sex. Hamsters can’t be sterilized, so it’s never a good idea to put males and females in the same cage unless you plan on starting a hamster farm!


10. Adult Hamsters May Harm Their Babies

baby hamster naps
Adult hamsters can eat their young.

iStock.com/Manatchon

When a female is still nursing her young, her situation might be stressful for her, which can lead to her eating her newborn babies. Also, males lack maternal instincts, thus, it is best to keep them apart from their offspring. He might attack the puppies and try to kill or consume them as well.

After the birth of your hamster, keep her cage as quiet as possible to minimize stress. When a hamster is just a few weeks old, it’s best not to touch it. The mother will also kill the pups if you touch them before they develop fur.

Share this post on:
About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.