The Syrian Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus, Family Cricetidae, Orde Rodentia) also called Golden Hamster is a small friendly rodent that is very popular in the Netherlands. The Syrian Hamster, as its name suggests, comes from Syria and southern Turkey. The animals live there in dry steppe areas and clay soils, in which they dig beautiful burrows and tunnels.
Head-hull length : up to 18 cm
Syrian Hamsters are really nocturnal. The animals sleep during the day and emerge late at night to forage for food. However, there is a difference between males and females. The females are more active than the males. Females sometimes appear during the day as well.
Females need more challenge than males, if they get bored they can show problem behavior. A cage with bars is not recommended because Golden Hamsters can quickly start cutting bars.
Tame and familiarize the Syrian Hamster
First read carefully whether a Syrian Hamster is the right pet. It can be especially disappointing for children if it turns out that the hamster is only active when everyone is in bed. Of course not every Goudhamster has this rhythm, but unfortunately most do. This must be taken into account at all times. The animals should also not be woken up during the day, because this can cause them to experience stress, become really grumpy and even start to bite.
Although the Syrian Hamster looks very cuddly, he does not always like to be cuddled and is especially scared in the beginning to be picked up. Because the animals cannot see depth and can run off your hand if startled, it is important when children handle the animals that there is always a parent present who can help and support.
A new resident should be approached calmly, especially at first. The animal must first become familiar with its own enclosure, feel safe in it before it dares to approach people. Of course there are also daredevils who immediately walk up to you and are social, but most hamsters are a bit shy the first time. Give the animal time and try to make contact calmly by talking to the hamster. Handing over some treats often also works well to gain the trust of the animals.
Housing of the Syrian Hamster
Golden hamsters need a spacious enclosure of at least 100 x 50 cm ( LICG ). A good stay gives the animals the opportunity to dig. Hamsters build beautiful tunnels in the wild and they would like to continue to do so in captivity. A castle in the wild is at a depth of at least 1 to 2 meters and is about 1 meter long. The depth of the castle depends on the ambient temperature. When the temperature rises, the hamster digs deeper underground to reach the cool earth, a kind of natural air conditioning.
Hamsterscaping is therefore great fun for Syrian Hamsters.
At our house this translates into a spacious stay with digging possibilities! A terrarium is the best choice because of its closed nature. It is important that a terrarium allows good ventilation, so preferably has two grids (top and bottom). This is especially important in summer when temperatures rise above 25°C.
Golden hamsters cannot tolerate high temperatures in combination with high humidity, so a temperature between 20 - 24°C is recommended and a humidity below 70%. You can use a hygrometer to measure these values.
House for a Syrian Hamster
Syrian Hamsters need a bigger hamster house than dwarf hamsters. That sounds logical, but unfortunately manufacturers do not make a distinction here. Fortunately we do. By means of logos we indicate at all houses whether it is suitable for a Syrian Hamster or only for a Dwarf Hamster. Syrian Hamsters are prey animals and do not like to walk open and naked through the enclosure, if they come across a shelter now and then they already feel a lot safer. Our advice is therefore to have at least two houses for the hamster. A house where the hamster can sleep and another where he can hide. At least one of the two houses must be larger so that the hamster can also store its food supplies. Not being able to put away food supplies can cause stress for the animals.
Running wheel for a Syrian Hamster
The hamster running wheel is a very important part of the design of the hamster house. Syrian Hamsters are active animals that like to run at night. This is because they naturally run a lot at night in search of food. This is, as it were, in their DNA. In addition, scientific research has shown that running on a running wheel makes hamsters happy, digestion is improved and the animals in general remain in good condition.
Ground cover for Golden Hamsters
It is important that the ground cover is digable for hamsters , i.e. that they can make holes and holes in it, which preferably remain standing. This can be achieved by choosing ground cover that is digable in itself or by mixing ground cover to make it digable. Examples of excavatable soil cover are, for example, the Humus and the Holenzand , but also Cotton & Cotton . A nice mix is, for example, the mix of Cotton & Hemp Fiber, Cotton & Wood Fiber or a mix of Wood Fiber, Hemp Fiber and Hay. Ground covers such as Back 2 Nature are not suitable, because the animals cannot dig in them. An ideal height of the ground bed to dig in is around 20 and 30 cm.
Long Haired Syrian Hamsters and Bedding
Not every bedding is suitable for the long-haired Golden Hamsters because it can get entangled in the fur and cause tangles. Depending on the thickness and density of the coat, ground covers made of thicker material such as: Cotton, Paper or Humus/Holenzand are suitable.
It is also good to brush the longhair's coat on a regular basis. This can be done with a rodent brush, but a toothbrush is also very pleasant to use for this.
Sand bath for Syrian Hamsters
Syrian Hamsters like to take a sand bath every now and then. Sand has a degreasing effect and therefore also has a cooling effect. Because sand is degreasing, it also has a drying effect. Animals with skin problems should therefore not be given a sand bath. If the skin dries out too much because of the sand, it can start to itch, causing the animals to bathe even more. It is therefore important to keep an eye on the bathing behavior of the hamsters and to remove the sandbox if there are signs of skin problems (red spots, bald spots, scabs, wounds).
Hibernation with Syrian Hamsters
If the ambient temperature is below 15°C for a long time, the animals can go into hibernation. It is very important to recognize this well, because it is often thought that the animals have died with all the consequences that entails. A hamster that is hibernating feels cold and sometimes even a bit stiff. Take the animal in your hands and let it warm up in your hands and wake up.
Hibernation is triggered by a drop in temperature on the one hand, but food scarcity can also play a role on the other. If the animals are malnourished and it is slightly colder, but warmer than 15°C, they can also go into hibernation. The length of the day also plays a role here. If it also starts to get dark at 5 p.m. with the hamsters, the body can receive a signal that winter has started.
Syrian Hamsters are nest builders
Syrian Hamsters are real nest builders, they always need nesting material so that they can line their burrows with it. Making a nest is therefore part of the natural behavior of a hamster. Therefore, always give the hamster 15-25 grams of nesting material.
Hamster nesting material should be nice and soft, absorb moisture and have breakable fibers so that the animals cannot get entangled in it. Materials such as cotton, hemp, toilet paper and hay are ideal.
Syrian Hamster/Gold Hamster food
Hamsters are granivores (seed eaters). The diet of Golden Hamsters consists mainly of seeds and a little bit of vegetable food in the form of herbs , but also animal proteins. Hamsters catch small insects in the wild, so it is good if their food also contains animal proteins.
Syrian Hamsters carry their hamster food in their cheek pouches. What you see is that the Hamster stuffs his food into his cheek pouches and quickly takes it to his house or pantry. Transporting food in the cheek pouches is also called "Hoarding". Thanks to the cheek pouch muscle, the food is retained in the cheek pouch and the hamster can transport it safely and quickly.
Dental formula: 1013/1013 (Incisor ratio at the top - bottom = 1 : 2-3) Incisors keep growing
The percentage of crude fiber in the diet must be a maximum of 10% for optimal digestibility and absorbability of the food.
Gnawing material to wear down the teeth
Syrian Hamsters have a natural need to gnaw. This is because Hamsters are rodents and have growing incisors. It is therefore necessary for Hamsters that they can gnaw on something to wear down the teeth. If Hamsters have too few opportunities to wear the teeth, the teeth can become too long or grow crooked with all the consequences that entails.
Some Hamsters gnaw gnawing very actively and others don't at all. It is on the one hand a matter of taste, but on the other hand a matter of need. If a Hamster has no need to gnaw because the teeth stay at a good length due to the food, hay or other nibbles, then he will gnaw less gnawing wood. It is good to always offer natural gnawing wood so that the animals can always gnaw if they have a need to gnaw.
Dental Problems in Hamsters
If you notice that your hamster is very eager to take the food, but then doesn't eat it, there may be something wrong with the teeth. Drooling can also indicate dental problems. If you suspect that you have dental problems, it is best to contact your vet.
Reproduction of the Syrian Hamster
Syrian Hamsters are solitary (live alone) and only come together during mating season. As soon as young are born, the mother takes care of them until they are old enough. Then they are chased off to the pasture world.
The female is willing (in rut) and ready to mate every 4 days. This will take approximately 12 hours. If a successful mating has taken place on these days, the young are born after about 18 days.
The difference between males and females can be seen in the distance between the genital opening and the anus. This distance is greater in a male than in a female.
Sexual maturity : females after 4-6 weeks, males after 6-7 weeks
Health of the Syrian Hamsters
Syrian Hamsters are generally healthy animals. The most common health problems are dental problems and diarrhea (wet tail). We therefore recommend that you regularly check the teeth of the animals in order to detect any dental problems in time. A well-balanced and complete hamster diet is essential to avoid digestive problems.
It is not necessary to treat the animals preventively with anti-parasite. It is not necessary to give extra vitamins with a complete hamster food.
It is advisable to consult a veterinarian for the following symptoms:
Drooling, moist nose and eyes, protruding teeth, not eating, losing weight, eating foreign materials that are softer than the food.
Bald spots, lots of scratching, scabs, wounds, bumps and nodules
Wet and dirty ass, drinking a lot, falling over, listlessness, different shape and color of the droppings