Syrian Hamster Breeds

See also: Dwarf Hamsters

Syrian breeds, often called Golden hamsters, were originally discovered in the middle east region in and around the country of Syria, sometime around 1797. Today, you can find this breed at your local pet shop in several variations; all nicknamed after their physical appearance or markings. These include the following:

Physical Features

  • As an adult this breed will be 6 to 8 inches in length (15 to 20cm).
  • Weighing 5 to 7 ounces (150 to 200 grams).
  • Its body should be full and rounded but not obese.
  • It has large upright ears (compared to its broad head).
  • The tail is short and hardly visible on long-haired breeds.
  • Colors come in: gold, brown black, gray and everything in between.
  • Patterns come in: calico, stripes (bands), spots and variegated.
  • Coats: short hair, long hair (or fluffy), satin (shiny), rex (curly).
Golden, Or Syrian Hamster

One Per Cage

In it’s natural habitat, the Syrian hamster lives a solitary life. It will spend the majority of its time by itself sleeping underground in its burrow or scrambling from one living chamber to the next through its network of subterranean tunnels. This loner behavior that can be observed in a wild Syrian hamster is the same reason why you shouldn’t house multiple Syrian breeds in the same hamster cage.

One of the two times Syrian hamsters can get along are during nursing and during mating. In regards to baby hamsters that are nursing, the acceptance of being around each other ends in a matter of 6 to 7 weeks of age. After this time, the young hamsters will begin to become territorial and try to stake out their own living quarters. When another hamster enters another hamster’s selected territory, a fight will likely ensue. These fights can lead to serious injury.  For this reason, you need not give your pet hamster a playmate.

During mating, a male and female can be kept together but only as long as they are actively breeding. You will know when to separate the couple when they lose interest in each other or  start to become aggressive towards each other. It’s important to be ready for this aggression so as to stop it before any injuries occur. Dwarf hamster breeds are the exception and can be housed together.

Syrian Hamster Breed

Needs Space to Run

In addition to only keeping one hamster per cage, except during the two exceptions above, it’s important to note that in the wild, in the night hours a Syrian will come out of hiding and run around for miles in search of food or a compatible mate. As it searches out food, it will collect seeds in its check pouches making its face look full and plump before returning to its hamster burrow. This instinctive behavior and this breed’s desire to run free is the reason why you need to give your pet as much space to run around in as you can provide.

Get the largest cage you can afford or have space for; it should include tubes and tunnels connecting other living chambers. However, if you can’t afford this or don’t have the space needed, every hamster, Syrian and dwarf hamster breeds alike, should have a hamster wheel to provide for an additional source of exercise.

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Caring for a Golden Hamster

The Golden Hamster is the traditional Syrian breed of hamster. The name is not that of a unique breed but rather it comes from the deep golden brown coat of the hamster. In the wild, Syrian or Golden hamsters have this same appearance; a golden brown body with a white belly and chest.

Like all larger breeds of hamster, the Golden does best when it is housed in it’s own habitat. By nature these guys are solitary animals who spend the majority of their lives by themselves in their dens. Another important part of keeping a happy hamster is to give it plenty of space to run and plenty of toys to keep them occupied. In the wild, Golden hamsters can run a few miles a night in search of food or a mate.

This larger type of hamster is one that is suitable for children because they are easier to handle and are less jumpy than the dwarf sized hamsters. If you train your hamster to be comfortable with being handled while it is still young and you teach any small children to be gentle with their new pet, you can help avoid getting an injured or runaway hamster. For the most part, with continued interaction you can teach your golden hamster to not fear being held. Just remember that most animal when afraid or threatened may nip or bite so proper training on handling techniques is important. Learn more about how to take care of a hamster.


  • An adult can grow to 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm)
  • It can weigh up to 5 to 7 ounces (140-200g)
  • It will need 1/3 to 1/2 ounce of food daily (10-15g)
  • It will consume 6 tablespoons (30ml) of water per day
  • The lifespan of a Golden Hamster is about 2-3 years

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What’s a Teddy Bear Hamster?

Teddy Bear hamsters, also known as a long haired, fancy and Angora hamster, are a close cousin of the Golden Syrian breed; if not actually the same breed. The males and females of this hamster breed have long hair but it’s the coat of the females that give these fury little gals their name. The coat of the female Teddy Bear grows to about an inch to two inches long (2.5-5cm) and looks more fluffy than stringy. Many breeders call it a velvet coat. The males on the other hand ironically wear a skirt of long stringy hair of up to 4 inches long (10cm). The coats of this type of hamster can range from shades of golds to reds. Female Teddy Bear hamsters are on average slightly larger than their male counterparts but both can look larger than the average Syrian type because of their long hair; they can reach 4 to 6 inches long (10-15cm).
White syrian hamster.

Grooming Advice

Since the long hair produced by these types of hamsters are due to breeding programs that encouraged this trait, sometimes they will need help with grooming to untangle matted hair. Both females and males should be groomed by using a comb or brush; a small cat flea brush usually works well. In order to be successful in your grooming efforts of a teddy bear hamster, you should begin the grooming process when the hamsters are still young. begin with short sessions and work your way up.

If gentle brushing while carefully holding your hamster in your hand doesn’t remove the matted hair, trimming is also an option. In fact, trimming will likely be less stressful than brushing. Only trim a little bit at a time and don’t hold your teddy bear on its back. You can help reduce stress while grooming by feeding your hamster a small piece of fruit or vegetable. This will help make them associate grooming with receiving a snack.

Care Tips

Learn how to take care of a hamster by following this advice: If you have a male Teddy Bear hamster, use sawdust and avoid wood shavings since it will get stuck in the long hair matting and tangling it. Don’t use a standard hamster for any hamster but especially not for long haired hamsters. The hair can get stuck in the rungs and injure it. Instead use a large hamster wheel with out open rungs.

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What is a Black Bear Hamster?

There’s some debate about what the black bear hamster breed is classified as and what their disposition is like. Is it a true breed of hamster or is it just color variation of the Syrian hamster. The term black bear hamster is an American one that refers to a hamster that resembles that of a black bear. Typically it’s either an all black hamster or one that is all black with a white under belly and white feet. The black coat can also be shades of dark brown that appear black. The coat length and texture can be rex, satin or long-haired. The version with the white patches might also be called a panda bear hamster.

In regards to black bear hamsters being larger than the Syrian breed, originally, show quality hamsters may have been 5 to 6 inches in length (12-15cm) but due to commercial breeding a black bear is roughly the same size as the standard Syrian. The same can be said about them being more friendly and easier to handle. There is little to no difference in this trait and it really just comes down to each individual hamster’s personality.

Black Bear Hamster

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Panda Bear hamster

What is a Panda Bear Hamster?

A panda bear hamster is a hamster that looks like a panda bear. It mainly has a black body with patches of white on its belly and or feet. This is also called a black bear hamster. What ever one decides to call these hamster types, it’s essentially just a color variation of the Syrian breed.

There are no special requirements needed to take care of this hamster variety. It’s best to care for them like you would a Syrian or Golden hamster. They will do best if you keep them in their own separate cage with plenty of room and hamster accessories to run around on. The panda bear hamster is suitable for children once they are taught how to handle a hamster so as to not injury or drop it.

17 comments on “Syrian Hamster
  1. Mai1999 says:

    Im about to get a hamster next week but i dont know what cage should i buy,what kind of ball,wheel,food dish,water bottle ,…. Please help!ASAP! Im only a beginner and yhis is my first time! :(

    • admin says:

      It depends on what type of hamster you get. Syrians need larger accessories and dwarf breeds need smaller ones. Critter Trail and a few other brands make good starter cages. Get one that allows for additions in the way of tubes since the bigger the cage the better. also read the various posts on this site to help answer more of your questions. good luck :)

  2. Tyler says:

    Hi I am new to hamsters. I just wanted to know is a Syrian better than a dwarf hamster? Also is $89.50 for everything a fair deal?

    • admin says:

      Syrians are easier to care for and easier to handle. yeah for that price, you should be able to get everything you need. Search Amazon or something like that to find the best deals.

  3. Kylie says:

    I also had a dwarf hamster about a year ago. Sure, in the petstore they are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E ..but in reality they are alot of work. Mine died shortly after due to eating the wrong types of food. I never liked this hamster much. It always seemed like it wanted to bite me..its a very agressive species. Here lately i really want to get another hamster..but i have no clue what type to get. I mean i want a Syrian..but then there is different types of Syrian hamsters. What would be the best type? I am technichally a beginner owner. i want a hamster that will sit in my hand and will never bite me (every once in a while is ok but not all the time) also i dont want to fear escaping..i dont mind how much excercise it needs because im a heavy sleeper. any who any suggestions..? i was thinking panda bear hamster but i heard their not the cuddly type.? please someone help asap!

    • admin says:

      The Syrian hamster is the breed to go with. Many of the Syrian’s are very similar in terms of temperament and you never notice a difference between a Panda Bear and any other type. In reality, they are are just different color variations. I would just pick one that you think looks nice and one that looks healthy. Get one that is younger so it can bond with you. When you do get one, read this post on handling a new hamster. best of luck :)

  4. Alec says:

    Hi, i live in New York City and i was looking to buy a Syrian Hamster. Do you recommend any stores to buy them from in my area?

    • admin says:

      I’m not familiar with pet stores in NYC but I think you could probably find a PetSmart or Petco. You might also search the internet for a hamster forum to ask for a recommendation from any members that might be from New York.

  5. adib says:

    when is mating season in malaysia

    • admin says:

      I’m not entirely sure. Normally mating season is around April to October in the Northern hemisphere but captive species might have different breeding schedules based on the controlled environment they live in.

  6. Alex says:

    I have a snigle story cage for my Golden hamster Charlie and was wondering if I should get another story or tubes leading to another cage or section. What do you think?

  7. adib says:

    how do i know my syrian hamster is pregnant

  8. Soctt says:

    I want to get a hamster for my son because he wants a pet. I don’t want to get a puppy because it will eventually get big, so I was thinking something smaller like a hamster. but I don’t know what kind to get. What do you recommend getting a 9 year old for a first pet?

    • admin says:

      I recommend getting a larger breed of hamster. The Syrian or Golden hamster breed are one of the largest types. The Syrian or Golden will be easier to handle than the dwarf breeds. Also, they often have a more curious and friendly personality making them a great choice for first timers and young children.

    • Ellie says:

      I do not recommend Dwarf Hamster’s, mainly because they are more Agressive, then the Syrian. I agree that Syrian’s are great for kid’s, and Begginer’s of those soft Furry friend’s.

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