Syrian hamster breeds, often called Golden hamsters, were discovered in the Middle East, 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 of these types are nicknamed after their physical characteristics.
By: Tim Winter | Last Updated: April 2, 2021.
- 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).
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.
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 cheek 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.
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 its 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.
- 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
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 animals 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.
What’s a Teddy Bear Hamster?
Teddy bear hamsters, also known as an Angora, fancy, or long haired Syrian hamster, are a close cousin of the golden Syrian breed, if not actually the same breed. Both males and females of this fancy hamster breed have long hair, but it is the fluffy coat of the female that truly describes their namesake. The coat of the female Teddy Bear grows to about one to two inches long (2.5-5cm) and looks more fluffy than stringy. Many breeders describe this characteristic as 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 coat colors of this type of hamster can range in shades of gold to red.
The female Teddy Bear hamster is 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).
Since the long hair produced by these types of fancy hamsters is due to breeding programs that encouraged this trait, they will need routine grooming assistance to help 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 theses hamsters are still young. You should 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.
Learn how to take care of a hamster by following this advice:
If you have a male Teddy Bear hamster, use crinkled paper bedding and avoid wood shavings since it will get stuck in the long hair, matting and tangling it.
Don’t use a hamster wheel that has metal rungs 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 without open rungs.
What is a Black Bear Hamster?
There’s debate about whether the black bear hamster is a true breed of hamster or if it’s just another color variation of the Syrian hamster. The black bear variation was at one time larger than the standard Syrian breed. Show quality black bears may have been 5 to 6 inches in length (12-15cm) but due to commercial breeding they are roughly the same size as the standard Syrian.The same can be said about the similarities in their temperament and ease of taming. The name black bear is an American term that refers to a hamster that resembles that of a black bear and it’s unlikely that it’s name came from the hamster breed’s disposition. The difference in this trait really just comes down to each individual hamster’s personality.
- Typically its coat is either all black or one that is all black with the exception of a white under belly and feet.
- The black coat color can also be shades of dark brown that appear to be 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.
What is a Panda Bear Hamster?
A panda bear hamster is a hamster that looks like a panda bear. Its body is mainly black with patches of white on its belly and or feet. This type of hamster is also called a black bear hamster. What ever one decides to call these hamster types, it’s ultimately 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.
Reviewed By: Tim Winter
Tim Winter has a strong affection for pets and wildlife. His years of experience caring for various types of pets has led him to share his knowledge with others on the best practices in pet care. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.