Syrian Hamster

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.

Table of Contents

Features | Care Info | Golden | Teddy Bear | Panda Bear | Black Bear | Related: Dwarfs

By: Tim Winter | Last Updated: April 2, 2021.


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).

One Per Cage

Syrian Hamster Breed

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.

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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 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.

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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).

Long-Haired Syrian Hamster.

Grooming Advice

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.

Care Tips

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.

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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.
Black Bear Hamster

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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.

Panda Bear hamster

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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.

68 thoughts on “Syrian Hamster”

  1. Hey man, Iam absolutely into the writings on your site. They are structured clearly, easy to digest and memorize, in spite of English being my 2nd language. All the best.

  2. I just bought 2 dwarf hamsters. They are brownish with 3 black stripes down their back. I’m trying to figure out what breed of dwarf they are. I got them at feeders supply. Also there were 4 together and I’m guessing a family. One is more skiddish and one is friendly and crawls onto my hand. Neither has bitten, but will lightly run their teeth on my skin occasionally.

    • Hello that breed is a Russian Cambuls Dwarf hamster, if they rub there teeth along your skin it might mean they are hungry or smell a faint smell of food on your hand

  3. Can I pick and play with my short haired Syrian hamster during the day , even though she is burrowed and sleeping or would that be too stressful ?

  4. Hi! I just a newbie in taking care of hamsters and I want to get a long hair syrian hamster but my only problem is that me and my family will be going to our province we are going to use a car and it takes 12 hours or more for us to get there. It is fine for me to take the hamster with me? Cause no one will be looking out for my hamster if ever. What should I do?

  5. Hi, I’ve never owned a hamster but have had rats before, my husband’s getting me a hamster for my birthday and I’m curious which is better a Syrian or Campbell dwarf? The cage is a bit small but it’s a temporary one, till I get a bigger one, any suggestions could help.

    • defiantly a Syrian because they are easier to handle and can easily be tamed around humans dwarfs are not tame they will jump and bite if handle wrong and tend not to be forgiving. also dwarfs are social only with the same sex and certainly not humans.

    • well dwarf hamster are hared to handle because they’re smaller and more skittish, mean while, Syrians are a lot more friendly-er and better to handle

    • Syrian hamsters are easier to tame, and are slower and easier to handle. I have had both, and overall I love my black bear hamster, midnight, better! I reccommend a Syrian.

  6. Hi! I just bought a Syrian hamster. It is white speckled with brown. It is a girl. Temperament is quite good. Any name suggestions?

  7. So I got this adorable all white Syrian teddy bear hamster. I named him Fievel, he love sleep, food, and his wheel from the now day and a half I’ve had him. I think I may have started out today a bit badly in gaining his trust, my sisters where insistent on seeing him in his ball and the dog has been watching his ever move and will hardly leave him be! Sadly I did put him in the ball for a short time but after tried to leave him alone. I started looking around on the internet and for a relatively good introducing on how to form a bond with a hamster. Starting tonight I’m going to try and fallow is as best I can, however, I’m worried I may have scars him and he won’t want to try. Is there hope? And also I’m wondering what a good cage size for him is? I think the one I got maybe to small.

    • Hi! Yes, you should keep him away from your dog and any other pets. I personally don’t like exercise balls because they force the animal to run, don’t provide enough ventilation, and the ventilation holes are big enough for little feet to get stuck in them. Also, when you first get your hamster, you should leave it alone for 2-3 days, then slowly start taming it.

      You probably got too small a cage if you got it from a pet store. The minimum size is 3 square feet but bigger is always better. You can get a 20 gallon aquarium, or make a bin cage (google it).

      I hope this helped. Go on YouTube and check out erinsanimals, she knows a ton about hamsters. Good luck!

  8. My girls have a female short haired hamster and a male panda bear hamster, short story version, went to clean out their cages and we found babies under our short haired hamster. Cannot find any info on this type of breeding, lol, would greatly appreciate any info! Thank you

  9. I am young and I want to have a hamster. I had a guinea pig but it was to much work. Would a hamster be easier to get. If so what type should I get

  10. We adopted a male long hair a few months back. No idea how old. He has a pretty good temperament and appetite. I will say a few things about Donald though… He does hand stands in the corner to pee. He actively touches his man parts (looks so guilty when u catch him doing it) and has a mole that concerns me.

  11. This is my first hamster and I do not know what to get. I heard robo dwarf hamsters get tumors often is that true? And are they good pet if not then what should I get?

    • You should definitely get a long haired Syrian hamster. I have one named Cody and he’s absolutely perfect. He is now 2 years 6 months. He’s blonde and white. I got him from petsmart. I highly recommend you get one just like him.

  12. My daughter has a Syrian hamster she’s had it about 3-4months and she’s been very active up until about 3 weeks ago and now she just stays burrowed in her beading and isn’t very active at all. And doesn’t even seem to move from her on pee area. Very concerned about her.. Any ideas what could be wrong if anything??

    • It could be nothing at all but it’s hard to say. Hamsters like to sleep a lot and burrow. They are most active at night as well. Continue to observe the hamster and make it is eating and drinking its water. You might try to add ‘fun’ exercise options or chew toys to stimulate activity.

    • I think if you’ve noticed a major shift in activity level, it could be she’s going through a growth spurt or your instinct is right. My Syrian, who is now 28 months old, went through 2 stages where he worried the crap out of us because he just wanted to sleep. However, he absolutely did not want to be in his bathroom, nor did he refuse to awaken to come out and be snuggled. Try coaxing her out with treats like cucumber, pecans, walnuts, or whatever her favorite is later at night and see if she is responsive. She may just be really active while it’s quiet in the house. Syrians are very people friendly, and seem to really like attention (very gentle, careful contact); mine sqeaks and wakes me up at 3am if he doesnt get enough, but he is very spoiled! I cant think of anything else at the moment….

      • At 2-3 months that’s highly unlikely considering the average life span is about 2 years and my long haired Syrian hamster is 2 years and 6 months old

  13. I have a golden short haired Syrian hamster named Bear and when we adopted him he was in a tank with another short haired Syrian hamster. Several months later my older sister got her own hamster who was also a Syrian but he was a long haired Syrian. My sister put the two of them together in her hands and they had a short fight. I was confused because my hamster didn’t have a problem with the other hamster in his cage at the store. Could you please explain why the two hamster fought if my hamster and the other one in the store didn’t fight? Thank you.

    • Typically two Syrian hamster can’t live together. They are solitary creatures and are territorial when they are mature. It sounds like the first two were a rare exception or that they were still pretty young.

    • it’s because Syrians are solitary so they have to live alone if they’ve heen toether at as young as 6 weeks they will be fine together

  14. We got 2 of these hamsters for our daughter for Christmas. For the first week or two everything seemed great. Now the one picks on the other one, we have seen quite a few dried blood marks on the less dominate one in the past couple weeks. We noticed when we got them the less dominate one had part of its ear missing and a scar on its bottom lip so I’m wondering if this was already a pattern between the 2. We are not sure whether they are male or female but they are the same sex. We have 2 cages but I feel like one cage is just to small as they are quite big. Is there any way to stop this aggression in the dominate hamster and if not since they are 6+ months old could separating them be harmful as they have been together their whole lives? Thanks!

    • Typically only dwarf hamsters can live together. Syrian hamster are solitary creatures. Two cages is what you need. Consider adding some extensions to the two cages or at least provide a lot of exercise options for them to stay active and be able to run around.

    • Hi take a look at the section on raising hamsters on this post, baby hamster care. Depending on the age of the babies, you should avoid disturbing them. Hopefully the mother catches on and starts caring for them. The babies are totally fine on their own for periods of time but not to the point where they are not getting fed or their nest/cage doesn’t keep them warm enough.

  15. 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! 🙁

    • 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 🙂

  16. 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?

    • 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.

    • i got a sryina hamster for £10 the food £2 the bedding £3 the cotton £2 the food ball £5 the watter bottle £2 the cage £60 the ball £5

  17. 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!

    • 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 🙂

    • I have a Panda Bear Hamster and she is the sweetest thing you will ever meet!!! Her name is Cupcake and she never bites and she like to cuddle in tight spaces.I would definitely consider the PandaBear species!!!

    • Hi, im just 9
      But i have a syrian hamster and its CUTEEEE!
      I recomend buying syrian hamsters!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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?

    • 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.

      • Thanks I’m new to this and don’t have one yet still looking at cages but Syrian hamsters look cool and fun i just want to make Shure it has a fun good life and I hear to do that is to get them lots of walking space and exercise

      • You sound like a really considerate pet owner, William. Syrians are the best- they act like puppies, almost, if you are good to them. Absolutely the best company short of dogs, but make sure you supervise the kids and teach them how to pick them up and handle them without harming them. As long as the animal has nothing to fear, they will follow you around, come to you when you call them, can be litter trained…they’re pretty wonderful. I made sure that I hade a 2x2m squared area blocked off for the syrians Ive owned to have a couple of days and nights’ vacation in every once in a while ( like once a week or so) just so they felt refreshed. If they live in the house, they deserve to have their share of time hoarding the living room just like everyone else!! Lol!

    • 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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