About Syrian Hamsters

They are territorial and completely solitary creatures. 100% of the time they will fight and often kill each other if housed with another hamster. Even a slight meeting of two or more hamsters can have disastrous results. Other animals like dogs or cats may attack because of their instincts.

A Syrian Hamster is the proper name of the larger variety of domesticated hamsters. Usually, at the pet store, they include nicknames such as Teddy Bear, Fancy Bear, Black Bear, etc… There is no such thing as these nicknames, typically with “Fancy Bear’s” pet stores increase the price convincing customers the hamster is worth more due to the name when in actuality they're pretty much the same besides fur length and pattern. 

Short-haired hamsters have shorter fur and long-haired hamsters have longer fur than the average, sometimes forms like a skirt. With long-haired males, you'll see longer fur.

Expect your Syrian Hamster to be active during the night while you're sleeping! While they are awake they'll be eating, drinking, using sand baths, chewing, and running up to 5 miles or more! During the day they will be sleepy.

Short Haired Hamster

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Long Haired Hamster

Coat Patterns

Banded: Will usually have a perfectly straight band around the middle of the body

Rex: Hamsters that have a curly or wavy coat

Roan: Hamster looks like a white hamster with splattered color concentrated at the head and then gradually gets lighter towards the rear

Satin: Gives coat a shiny effect

Dominant Spot: Hamster with splodges of color eventually splattered all over the body. 

Hair Length

Hairless, short-haired, or long-haired.

It's more common in male hamsters due to having long hair due to varying amounts of testosterone

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Banded

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Rex

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Roan

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Satin

Dominant Spot

Cheeks Pouches

They have large cheek pouches used for the collection and transportation of their food. Most of the time they will hide their food in their nest.

Teeth 

Hamsters have orange/yellowish teeth that grow constantly. They will need items they enjoy chewing in order to avoid overgrown teeth. A good recommendation would be an extra small Whimzee, they are found at your local pet store. They are labeled as dental dog treats but are perfectly safe for hamsters! 

Please take the hamster to see a vet for them to clip the teeth if they are overgrown or if they look broken or damaged, this can harm their overall health.

Please avoid toys that have sharp edges or that are made from a combination of wood and plastic.

Nails

Generally, you can clip their nails at home with research done and confidence but if you don't feel comfortable enough, a vet will do it for a small cost and show how it's done or you can contact us and we'll determine to see if it's necessary or not and proceed from there at a low cost. One thing you can do to prevent this is by providing sand to dig in.

Cleaning

Hamsters should never get wet or be bathed. They may use sand baths to keep themselves clean but otherwise, they will themselves on a daily basis.

Scent Glands

Located on their hips, more visible on males than females. Hamsters are territorial and like to lick and scratch these glands to spread their scent on everything that is theirs. It often gives them a bit of a wet or greasy look.

Wash your hands!

It is very important to wash your hands before picking up your hamster to avoid passing on germs to them and they have a great sense of smell. If they smell another hamster or the scent of food they might try to nibble. If possible wash with unscented soap.

Housing Temperature

Hamsters are sensitive to temperature if drastically changed. The ideal temperature should be kept from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit

Sleep

Never wake your hamster suddenly from its sleep. Please take in mind that they mainly sleep throughout the day and are active at night. They are heavy sleepers, if they are suddenly disturbed, it's their natural instinct to be defensive. To wake up your hamster (if you need to) we suggest you speak in a soft voice or move some bedding around at the opposite end.

Common Diseases

Unfortunately, they get diseases just like we do and have a possible chance of survival, it just depends. Like us, we have good and bad bacteria, and when they get stressed bacteria levels have a higher presence. The most common disease is Wet Tail (Proliferative Ileitis) It’s generally a stress-induced illness. The hamster will look hunched, dehydrated, messy bottom, diarrhea, and lethargic. Please get your hamster to a vet immediately if you suspect a wet tail since the survival rate is very low.

Colds and respiratory infections

Breathing issues (wheezing, sneezing, labored breathing) you will need to see a vet immediately as well.

Behavioral Issues

Bar chewing is a common behavioral issue. When they feel bored or do not have enough space they will chew on the bars of the cage. Not only is this a harmful habit but they may break their teeth. If this is the case, try to include more toys if they are going to a designated area. If the chewing continues you may want to heavily consider moving your hamster into a bigger cage, glass tank, or plastic bin.

Weaning

Syrian pups are usually weaned 3 weeks after being born. Sometimes the mom will continue to nurse. At this stage, they will play fight a lot with their siblings.

Separation

The mom eventually becomes restless after 4 weeks of the pups being born. This is when we determine the sexes and split them to avoid inbreeding and double-check the sexes.

Life Span

Average life span is 1.5-3 years

Respiratory Rate

33-127/min

Heart Rate

280-412/min

Body Temperature

97.16-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit

Weight

Females are slightly larger than males. 

A huge weight drop can indicate a problem.

Sexual Maturity 

At about 4 weeks old

Females will go into heat when they are ready to

 mate and become pregnant, a musky odor will be released.

Gestational Period

15-18 Days

Liter Size

6-12 on average

Housing

Insufficient cage space will cause physical and psychological health issues for your hamster.

Stress behaviors such as bar chewing, pacing and obsessively trying to escape when housed in cages under 450 square inches.

A way to see how big their home is to measure the width and length and multiply those two numbers together and you'll get your answer in square inches.

Believe it or not but employees at pet stores might not always have the proper knowledge of hamsters. They might recommend a small cage, non-nutritional food, wired wheels, cotton/fluff bedding, unnecessary salt licks, or even say it's ok to get two hamsters from the same litter to be house together. This is why it's important to do proper research to give your hammy the best life ever!

Cages like these from your local pet store are too small for your Syrian hamster!

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Instead, you can go with:

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40 gallon glass tank or biger

200 qt/50 gal plastic bin, if keeping the lid on, will need to cut out parts and add mesh wire for proper ventilation.

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Prevue 528

Cage at least 600 sq inches cage or bigger 

IKEA Detolf 

Hamster Bedding

Please do not use cedar and pine bedding since they are toxic to hamsters. Although these products may be sold in pet stores, there is clear scientific evidence indicating they are harmful to your hamster.

Avoid bedding made from printer paper! Avoid scented bedding! We know it may smell nice to you but will do harm to your hamster.

Your hamster will need at least 6 inches. Wild Syrian Hamsters construct burrows around 2 feet deep! Our favorite bedding is Kaytee Clean & Cozy - Natural since it really helps with the smell and you get a decent amount of bedding!

Hamster Wheels

Please do not use wire-style wheels, they are the worst options you can provide for your hamster. Their legs can get caught and fractured If spinning at high speed and get tossed they may break many bones in their little bodies! When it comes to choosing wheels you'll need to choose a wheel big enough for them to run comfortably. If you see that they are not running straight then they need a bigger wheel.

Cotton/Fluff Nesting Material

We cannot stress how unnecessary cotton nesting materials are and can cause so many problems if eaten or wrapped around their paws. Instead of spending money on this, use shredded toilet paper or tissues since they are really soft and cozy for your little one.  Just because you see something at a pet store, does not mean it's safe for a hamster. This is a common issue with big chain pet stores.

Salt Licks

Salt licks and mineral chews are unnecessary, nutritionally inappropriate, and potentially harmful.

Hamster Balls

We personally don't recommend putting a hamster in an exercise ball since they have poor eyesight and may prevent the hamster from performing natural behaviors.  What would make it more stressful is accidentally bumping into objects just as furniture and there's a risk of their paws getting caught in the air holes.

Sand Baths

We do not recommend any sand that is very dusty such as "TINY FRIENDS FARM Small Animals Bathing Sand" instead we recommend "QUIKRETE Play Sand" that can be found at Lowes or Home Depot
 

Nutritional Requirements

Protein: 17-22%

Fat: 4-7%

Fibre: 8-15%

We recommend Mazuri lab blocks mixed with Higgins sunburst seed mix and avoid Oxbow hamster food since they don't have any nutritional value and very low in nutrients. It has been proven that the food basically starves hamsters to death. And when it comes to switching dry foods, you can switch your hamster's food immediately and you don't need to include the old dry food since their stomachs don't get upset with dry foods. However, Oxbow makes great food for larger rodents like Rats but when it comes to hamsters, they are really not sure what they are doing.

Vets in Austin for Syrian Hamsters

Research Boulevard Pet & Bird Hospital

11679 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

(512) 842-4677