Hamsters (Cricetinae) are rodents and are indiginous to the Middle East and south-east Europe. The Syrian (or Golden) hamster is the breed most commonly kept as a pet, followed by dwarf species. There are four dwarf species: Russian Campbell; Russian Winter White; Roborovski and Chinese.
Hamsters weigh from around 80 to 140g, depending on species and vary from approximately 15cm in length for a Syrian to much less for the dwarf species. They can vary widely in coat colour and type and have very short tails. Most species have expandable cheek pouches to carry food and bedding back to their nests.
Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. They have very poor eyesight, but a good sense of smell and excellent hearing. Ideally hamsters need to be kept active to prevent boredom, which could lead to behavioural problems. It’s advisable to do your research when you’re thinking about buying a hamster, and talk to a pet care specialist about their particular needs.
The lifespan of a hamster is usually 2 to 3 years.