The Hamster Term And Its History

by Hamster Care

Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular house animals all over the world for adults and older children alike. Hamsters bring lots of joy to a lot of people, and this guide will help you to ensure that you have the skills and knowledge needed to give them the best life possible in return. Therefore, this article is an introduction to hamster term and its history that may help you out.

Hamsters have also proved extremely popular pets in countries across the globe. Our detailed advice on hamster owning will be useful for anyone interested in keeping these cute little critters, whether you’re a prospective owner or perhaps a seasoned hamster aficionado.

This environmental problem still concerns captive hamsters, so much so that owners will regularly find little stashes of food that their hamster has carefully collected in and around their enclosures. We hope it’ll be an useful tool for you throughout your time with your pets.

The word “hamster” is used to refer to a number of different species from all across the world, Syria, Siberia and China to name a few. The word comes from the German term for hoarder: “hamstern”, and has been applied to these species due to their strong tendency to hoard food. To survive in the wild, hamsters may have to spend lots of their time collecting foods when there’s a lot of it around, so that they can survive in these stores when times are scarce.

This guide contains detailed information on many different aspects of hamster ownership, from choosing your hamster, to feeding your pet, to diagnosing some of the most common illnesses.

Hamsters’ Wild Habitat

Lots of hamsters are desert animals, some coming from Syria, others originating from areas such as Northern China. They often inhabit desert or sparse rocky areas, both of which are places that can have extreme variations in temperature, ranging from scorching hot to extremely cold in a short space of time. In some areas, these fluctuations are one of the reasons that hamsters burrow underground and have quite dense fur. These wild characteristics are particularly noticeable in hamster species that have not been bred in captivity for very long, such as the Roborovski.

As well as fluctuations in temperature, wild hamsters have to deal with a high degree of variation in the volumes of food that they are able to find. They’ve evolved to deal with this by gathering a high amount when it is available, and storing it for use in times when it’s less abundant.

To help with this potentially life-saving task, over a long period of time, their bodies have evolved to be able to store a lot of food in two flaps of skin – the areas of their mouths known as the “cheek pouches“. These handy pouches are capable of storing large amounts of food, so that the hamster can carry plenty of tasty snacks back to their nest or stash them away to save for later.

Another adaptation that wild hamsters have developed is their coloring. Whilst Syrian hamsters have been in captivity for a long time, their wild counterparts and other pet hamster species still retain the markings and colors of their wild forms. Wild hamsters often possess light brown or gray-colored backs and pale stomachs. Their colored backs can help them blend into the surrounding scenery to make it harder for predators to spot them, whilst their lightly-colored bellies are able to reflect lots of the extreme temperatures from the sand or rock that they’re scurrying around on all night.

READ MORE: Can I Release Hamsters Into The Wild?

Hamsters that haven’t been bred in captivity for lengthy, like the Chinese or Roborovski hamster, still look a lot like their wild counterparts. The Syrian hamster, however, has been specifically bred into many different forms by many different breeders, so a number of them look very different from their wild ancestors.

Although some hamsters have been bred extensively and a few have not, this breeding has had little effect on their nocturnal nature. Hamsters are most active at night, when they can scurry around picking up seeds and vegetable matter under cover of darkness. Whether hamsters are usually living in the wild or being kept as pets, they will still be the majority ofly nocturnal, although a few have managed to shift their sleeping patterns slightly and so may wake up in the early evening.


All hamsters have wild ancestors, even those that live with humans today. Whether you own a Syrian, a Dwarf, or a Chinese hamster, there is a rich and full history that has led to this little animal becoming a valued resident of your home. Read on for more information on each of the five main hamster varieties.

Hamsters have evolved in a number of areas throughout the world, but many spend a significant level of their lives underground within order to evade temperature extremes and predators. They’re well-adapted for underground life, with short, strong legs and compact bodies. Even though there are obvious similarities between the hamster species, there are also some distinct differences.


It’s said that the original group of Syrian hamsters bred extensively in captivity were captured in the region around Mount Aleppo in Syria. After being sighted in 1800s, many people had thought that this species was extinct until a mother was found with her babies in 1930. The group was brought into captivity, and it is from these individuals that most pet Syrian hamsters descend today. Since 1930 their popularity has soared , and they are now amongst the most popular species of pets. They are born in a wide variety of colors, and as time has passed new coat variations have arisen too.

Check out our Why Syrian Hamsters Live Together in Pet Stores but Not at Your Home for additional information.


Chinese hamsters, though often known as Dwarf hamsters, are different from the Dwarf varieties of Winter White, Campbell, and Roborovski. Chinese hamsters come from regions around Northern China, and unlike Syrian hamsters, their ancestry is probably from a number of different wild individuals captured over several years. These cute creatures are dark gray, with a darker stripe on the back and a light stomach. Unlike Syrian hamsters, these animals aren’t necessarily solitary and can live together peacefully.


Dwarf hamsters, unsurprisingly, are a collection of some of the smallest hamster species currently kept as pets. There are three different types: the Winter White, the Roborovski and the Campbell.

  • Winter White

The Winter White is a lovely little animal: oval-shaped and with bright, black eyes. In the wild, these animals change color as the year progresses – in the wild, snow in areas such as Siberia would mean that their dark summer coloring would be very obvious to potential predators, so their hue would lighten in the winter. Like the Syrian hamster, Winter White-colored pets originally came from a few individuals captured from the wild.

  • Campbell

Widely known as the Campbell Dwarf Russian hamster, this creature hails from places like the chilly climes of Northern Russia, and the wide expanses of Central Asia. These little pets possess become enormously popular extremely quickly, and are usually found in pet shops and small animal sanctuaries across many countries. Like the Winter White, these animals have thick fur and a lovely dark stripe down the back. Although very similar to Winter Whites in size and shape, Campbell hamsters are usually of a lighter hue, tending towards brown rather than gray.

  • Roborovski

This Roborovski Dwarf Russian hamster is really a beautiful pet that has only been in the UK for a relatively short space of time. They’re the smallest pet hamster available, with a light brown coat and a much lighter stomach. Many were captured in China, and, as a desert species, their coloring is likely for camouflage and minimisation of heat intake. These creatures are relatively late additions to hamster shops and sanctuaries, but are proving very popular.

Read more about An Overview Of Hamster: Anatomy, Breeds, And Traits in our next post for further information!

By HamsterCare.Net

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