Mesocricetus is a genus of Old World hamsters, including the golden hamster or Syrian hamster, the first hamster to be introduced as a domestic pet and still the most popular species for that purpose.
Historically, golden hamsters probably inhabited open steppe habitat, which once characterized the Aleppinian plateau and adjacent areas. As their range has become increasingly populated however, golden hamsters have shown an affinity for agricultural areas. Hamster burrows are often found in legume plots or near irrigation wells. The climate of the region inhabited by golden hamsters is seasonal. Summers are hot (35-38 degrees C) at midday and cold at night.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Cricetidae
- Subfamily: Cricetinae
- Genus: Mesocricetus
- Lifespan: 2 – 3 years (Adult, In the wild)
- Mass: 120 – 120 g (Adult)
- Gestation period: 16 – 18 days
- Scientific name: Mesocricetus auratus
- Length: 13 – 18 cm (Adult)
The Syrian or golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) originated in Syria and naturally resides in the arid, temperate regions of southeast Europe and Asia Minor. In their native environment, hamsters live in deep tunnels that provide cooler temperatures and higher humidity than the general desert environment. They are nocturnal animals in the laboratory, but field research has shown diurnal activity in females in the wild.
Hamsters use their large cheek pouches to store food that the hamster finds so that the hamster can take the food back to the stash in the underground burrow. Nuts, seeds, vegetables, grass, fruits and berries are all part of the natural diet of the hamster.
Golden hamsters are solitary and highly territorial. They are highly aggressive toward conspecifics except when mating. To mark their territory, hamsters will make use of scent glands on their flanks. Individuals will rub their flanks against a substrate to spread their scent. A great deal of information can be discerned from flank markings, including kin recognition. Hamsters spend the day in their burrows, and wake at dusk.
- The hamster has two front feet that are shaped more like hands and the hamster uses its front feet to hold and forage for food.
- The two back feet of the hamster are slightly larger than the front feet and are used to balance and support the hamster when it sits up.
- The delicate shape of the back feet of the hamster enable the hamster to run not only forwards but also backwards so that the hamster can easily escape into burrows.
Mesocricetus Hamster images
Also more: Chinese hamster