|Size:||Length: 8 to 13 inches (20 to 33 cm)|
|Weight:||4 to 32 ounces (113 to 907 g)|
|Diet:||Plant greens, grains, roots, fruit, seeds and sometimes insects or small animals|
|Distribution:||Eastern Europe and western Asia|
|Young:||4 to 18, at least twice per year|
|IUCN Status:||Male: Buck Female: Doe Young: Pup Group: Horde|
|Terms:||No special terms|
|Lifespan:||Average lifespan is 2 years|
· When swimming, hamsters inflate their cheek pouches for extra buoyancy.
They are also called “black-bellied hamsters”
· There are 5 genera and 24 species of hamsters in the world.
· The common hamster is the largest type of hamster.
Common hamsters have light brown fur with white patches and a black underbelly. Their nose is pink and their eyes are black. They have rounded ears and tiny claws on the digits of their forefeet. Hamsters have cheek pouches in which they can carry food weighing up to one ounce (30 g). They have a short, hairless tail. Males are larger than females.
They can be found from Belgium to Siberia living in fields and along rivers. They also live in the desert regions of western Asia.
They come out at night to forage for food, and otherwise stay in their burrow. Hamsters eat plant greens, grains, roots, fruit, seeds, and sometimes insects or small animals.
Breeding season lasts from spring to mid-summer. The males visit the female in her burrow, but before the babies are born, the protective mother-to-be drives the male out. Gestation is 19 to 20 days and the young hamsters are born hairless, with their eyes shut. By the time they are two weeks old, they have grown a fur coat and their eyes are open. They are weaned by three to four weeks and reach full size by eight weeks of age. Female hamsters can begin to breed when they are six weeks old, and may have two or more litters per year.
Common hamsters are solitary animals that live in an elaborate burrow containing separate chambers for sleeping and storage. To prepare for the winter, hamster store large quantities of food in their burrow and go into a kind of hibernation—waking up once a week to eat, then going back to sleep again. Each burrow contains only one hamster, except during mating season when the male moves in with the female for a short time.
Once widespread across central Europe, common hamster numbers have been greatly reduced. Farmers consider them pests, and over a period of years in Germany, pest controllers killed hundreds of thousands each year. Despite their attractive appearance, common hamsters are not often kept as pets, mainly because of their aggressiveness. Most pet hamsters are golden hamsters (also known as Syrian hamsters). These hamsters were considered extinct until 1930, when several were found in Syria. They were taken captive, identified as golden hamsters, and were bred in a laboratory. Today, all pet golden hamsters come from those hamsters. Since none have since been found in the wild, all golden hamsters are domestic animals. However, because they are adept at escaping, golden hamsters are banned from Australia and New Zealand for fear they may get loose and damage crops.
Common Hamster Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US