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Syrian Golden Hamster

The Syrian Hamster - Cricetus auratus or Mesocricetus auratusThe Syrian Hamster - Golden Hamster
Cricetus auratus or
Mesocricetus auratus


A British zoologist George Waterhouse is credited with finding a female golden hamster in the Syrian Desert in 1839. He named it the Golden Hamster, "Cricetus auratus" because of its colour. Also known as Syrian hamster.

Sammy the Syrian Hamster - Owned by Lizzie WDuring the first part of the 1900s the wild Syrian hamster was thought to have become extinct. Then around 1930, another zoologist, a professor at the University of Jerusalem Aharoni found another female with a litter of in the Syrian Desert. When he returned to his laboratory, all but a couple had died or escaped. The remaining hamsters were given to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where they were bred as Golden Hamsters. These were thought to be a bit bigger than the ones George Waterhouse found, so they were named "Mesocricetus auratus" commonly named The Syrian Hamster, although they are probably the same species. They arrived in the UK about 1931. Just about all Golden Hamsters are descended from this litter.

Wild Syrian hamsters are classed as agricultural pests.The hamsters were sent to laboratories around the world. Because hamsters are so disease-free and breed so rapidly (they can have a new litter every month!) and because they are so friendly and easy to handle, hamsters are used for scientific research. They are a popular choice among scientists for cardio-vascular research. Their cardio-vascular system is very similar to that of humans.

Wild Syrian hamsters are classed as agricultural pests. An individual hamster has been known to store in excess of 30 kg of grain.

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