Hamsters and Pups

These furry little guys often times need attention, just like their larger cousins. We can help with a variety of maladies that affect hamsters young and old.

Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species, classified in six or seven genera.

Hamsters are crepuscular and remain underground during the day to avoid being caught by predators. In the wild, they feed primarily on seeds, fruits, and vegetation, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects. They have elongated cheek pouches extending to their shoulders in which they carry food back to their burrows. Hamsters tend to sleep during the day and are wide awake at night, which may be irritating to some people because of their cage-biting and wheel-running.

Hamster behavior varies depending on their environment, genetics, and interaction with people. Because they are easy to breed in captivity, hamsters are often used as laboratory animals. Hamsters have also become established as popular small house pets, and are sometimes accepted even in areas where other rodents are disliked, and their typically solitary nature can reduce the risk of excessive litters developing in households.

Although the Syrian hamster or golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) was first described scientifically in 1839, researchers were not able to successfully breed and domesticate hamsters until 1939. The entire laboratory and pet populations of Syrian hamsters appear to be descendants of a single brother-sister pairing. These littermates were captured and imported in 1930 from Aleppo [Syria] by Israel Aharoni, a zoologist of the University of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the hamsters bred very successfully. Years later, animals of this original breeding colony were exported to the USA, where Syrian hamsters became one of the most popular pets and laboratory animals. Comparative studies of domestic and wild Syrian hamsters have shown reduced genetic variability in the domestic strain. However, the differences in behavioral, chronobiological, morphometrical, hematological, and biochemical parameters are relatively small and fall into the expected range of interstrain variations in other laboratory animals.