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Hamsters got their name from an old German word “Hamstern” which means to hoard.

Domestication of the Hamster began in 1930 when a zoologist found one mother and twelve young Hamsters in the Syrian Desert at Aleppo, one of world’s oldest inhabited cities.

In the wild, Hamsters dig extensive tunnels beneath the ground extending as far as 91.5cm (3ft) deep and they have found as much as 17kgs (38lbs) of grain stored in a single burrow. They will line their tunnels with grasses and wool or hair shed from other animals to help maintain a fairly constant temperature in their burrow of around 15.6°C (60°F), no matter the outside temperature.

Hamsters are colour-blind and typically have poor eyesight and depth perception can only see up to 15cm (6ins) in front of them. To compensate for their poor sight when in unfamiliar territory, Hamsters have scent glands on their flanks (abdomens as well in Chinese and Dwarf Hamsters). A Hamster rubs these areas of his body against various objects, and leaves a trail of smells the Hamster can follow to return to his home den.

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Common Hamster mainly eat seeds, grasses, root vegetables, fruits, corn and pulse crops but they can also eat insects, lizards, frogs and small mammals. In cool of the evening and during the night Hamsters will search for food and can travel up to 12.8km (8 miles) in one night.

Of the 14 distinct species of Hamsters, 8 only are kept as pets.

During winter hibernation, the golden Hamster’s pulse rate drops from about 400 to 4 beats per minute.

Though classified as nocturnal (night dwellers), most Hamsters divide their days with periods of sleeping and waking.

The largest species of Hamsters are about 34cm (13ins) long, weighing about 900gms (32ozs) with the smallest being about 5.3cm (2ins) long, weighing about 100gms (3.5ozs).

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Like other rodents, a Hamster’s teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime. To help keep their teeth worn and clean, offer suitable chew toys on a regular basis. If your Hamster avoids his chew sticks and instead chews on his cage bars then try giving him dog biscuits because they’re hard, tasty, and wear down his teeth.

Hamsters can be taught to react to names.

The body fur of Hamsters comes in a wide variety of colours, depending on the nature of the species.

Hamsters can remember their relatives.

The gestation period of a Syrian Hamster is about 16 days.

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Regulation of temperature helps to determine the sex of Dwarf Hamster babies. Keeping the mother in warmer temperatures will lead to birth of more males, whereas keeping her in cooler temperatures will lead to the birth of more females.

Normally, the breeding season is from April to September. However, if kept in light for eight hours or more a day, they will breed throughout the year. Females can give birth as young as five weeks however this is not recommended. You should wait until she is at least 3 months old.

Hamsters usually have from 4–12 young at one time.

Hamsters cannot be spayed or neutered. In order to stop pregnancy, you must separate the male and female.

A human year is approximately 25 Hamster years and the average life span is 2½ years although they have been known to live 4 years.

The Djungarian Hamsters, also known as Cambells Dwarfs, are found on the steppes of Russia.

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Syrians run slower than dwarves, while Roborovski dwarves are the fastest.

Syrian (also known as Golden, Fancy, or Teddy Bear) Hamsters are solitary animals and will not live peacefully with other Hamsters past 8–10 weeks of age. They should always be housed separately.

Russian Dwarf Hamsters can often be kept in pairs or groups, as long as they are introduced to each other at a very young age.

Roborovski Hamsters are the smallest species of Hamster and the east likely kept as pets.

Black Bear Hamsters are a genetic mutation of the Syrian Hamster; not a different species.

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Hamsters are escape artists and can squeeze themselves into really small places.

One of the Hamster characteristics is the ability to stuff its cheek pouches with food…sometimes an amazing amount for one little Hamster.

Male are called a Boar, female a Sow and babies are Pups.

Hamsters are now being used for scientific research because Hamsters are disease-free, breed rapidly (can have a litter every month), they are friendly and easy to handle, they are a popular choice among scientists. They are often used for cardio-vascular (heart) research, as their cardio-vascular system is remarkably similar to that of the human.

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