Where Do Hamsters Come From? Origins Around The World (2023)

Are you fascinated by your pet hamster?

He loves eating at night, making burrows in his cage, and running on his wheel. But what else do you know about him?

Where do hamsters come from?

We’ve investigated the origins of some of the most common hamster species. Get to know more about your pet and where his roots are from with the help of this article!

Species of HamsterOrigin
Syrian hamster (Golden hamster)Syria and Turkey
Roborovski hamster (Dwarf hamsters) Central Asia
Teddy bear hamsterSyria
European hamsterGermany
Chinese hamsterChina and Mongolia
Djungarian hamsterKazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Manchuria

But where exactly are each of these hamsters from and what else do we know about these fluffy pets?

Coming up next, we’ll be going into detail about the origins of each hamster species and what you need to know about them.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

The Origins of Hamsters Around the World

What species is your hamster?

There are over 20 types of hamsters which are all unique and from different parts of the globe.

Where do hamsters come from?

Let’s find out!

Coming up, you’ll see a list of the most common types of hamsters and where they originated from. Knowing this will help you to understand more about your furry friend and how best to look after him.

(Video) Where Do Hamsters Come From? | Hamster History!

The Syrian Hamster (Golden Hamster)

This type of hamster is one of the most popular pet hamster varieties. But have you ever wondered…

Where do wild Syrian hamsters come from?

The Syrian or Golden hamster origins from the arid region of northern Syria and southern Turkey. That’s right, his grandparents likely traveled a long way to reach your home!

To be even more specific, the original home address of wild Syrian hamsters was near the city of Aleppo in Northwest Syria. What a journey!

The Roborovski Hamster

Where Do Hamsters Come From? Origins Around The World (1)

Roborovski hamsters (also called dwarf hamsters and the Roborovski dwarf hamster) are well known for their long lives when compared with other types of hamsters. They have an average lifespan of up to 4 years in captivity and 2 years in the wild.

These hamsters are nocturnal (awake at night), unlike guinea pigs who are diurnal (awake during the day). They are famous for their speed and can run up to 6 miles during the night.

Imagine doing that instead of hitting the sack in the evening!

Fun facts aside, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it.

Where do Robo hamsters come from?

Key Takeaway:

Roborovski hamsters originate from the deserts of Central Asia including Mongolia, and northern Russia. They live in regions of China like Xinjiang and around lake Zaysan in Kazakhstan.

They’re not the only odd pet to originate from the desert either, as some snakes live in deserts around the world too.

(Video) The History Of Hamsters

So, this leads us to your next question.

Where did these small animals get the big name Roborovski from?

The Roborovski dwarf hamsters got their name from the Russian expeditioner that first discovered them in July 1894. His name was Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski.

The Teddy Bear Hamster

Now, this hamster species definitely wins the prize for the cutest name of all…the teddy bear hamster! His official name is the long-haired Syrian hamster (but we like the name teddy bear hamster).

Why are they called that? Because their large ears and small dark eyes make them look like teddy bears.

Where do teddy bear hamsters come from?

Teddy bear hamsters or long-haired Syrian hamsters are from northern Syria.

The European Hamster

Now here’s a breed of hamster that you are less likely to find in a cage. This is the European hamster.

Where Do Hamsters Come From? Origins Around The World (2)

This breed belongs to the family of wild hamsters that is rather territorial and aggressive which is why they are not popular pets. These are solitary animals and in the hamster’s natural habitat, each one lives in its own burrow.

That’s right; there are no roommates with these guys!

Where is this wild hamster from?

European hamsters were first found in the industrial area of western Germany. They also live in the lowlands of central and eastern Europe.

European hamsters might be feisty, but they are certainly doing something right, as in the wild, they can live for up to 8 years. That’s plenty longer than other hamsters!

The Chinese Hamster

This type of hamster is famous for its unusually long tail. Most other species of adult hamsters have short and stubby tails.

(Video) The Truth About Hamsters Is Surprisingly Dark

Where are they from?

Chinese hamsters are from the deserts of northern China and Mongolia. Some people keep them as pets but in some states of America, they are banned and are on the list of pests.

This type of hamster is also endangered and many efforts are underway to breed and repopulate them. So make sure you do whatever you can to look after this little guy!

The Djungarian Hamster

Where Do Hamsters Come From? Origins Around The World (3)

Now this one’s a little tricky to pronounce!

The Djungarian hamster originates from the wheat fields of Kazakhstan, regions of Mongolia, Siberia, and even Manchuria.

But you might also know him as the Russian dwarf hamster or the Striped dwarf hamster. He’s also often called the Siberian hamster, the Siberian dwarf hamster, and the Winter white dwarf hamster.

Why is it called the Winter white dwarf hamster?

Well for starters, it is about half the size of the Syrian hamster, so it’s pretty tiny.

Also, in the winter, it replaces its dark fur with almost all white fur. Yes, it is one of the only hamsters that has a complete change of look for the winter.

Who would have thought a hamster could be so stylish?

Do Hamsters Live In the Wild?

Pet shops often sell hamsters that make the perfect mascots for children and adults alike. But if you’ve only ever seen caged hamsters, you might wonder…

Can hamsters survive in the wild?

Let’s start by confirming that wild hamsters most certainly do exist and live in the wild. These rodents hunt for food, dodge predators, and have their litter in deserts and some colder climates.

How do they survive?

(Video) The Discovery of Hamsters

Hamsters actually do pretty well out in the open as long as they are able to dodge their predators. In fact, some species are able to live longer in the wild than they would in captivity.

Some hamsters, such as European hamsters, live remarkably long in their natural habitat. Their lifespan is up to 8 years!

Incredible, right?

So what animals pose a threat to these rodents?

Here is a list of some of the animals they need to steer clear of if they want to survive out in the open.

  • Snakes
  • Birds such as kites, buzzards, and lesser-spotted eagles
  • Red foxes
  • Domestic dogs
  • Ermine

What kind of food do they eat in the wild?

The wild hamster is a clever and resourceful rodent. It will eat a mixture of seeds, cereals, insect larvae, and insects on a regular basis and wash it all down with water.

Where Do Syrian Hamsters Live In the Wild?

Syrian hamsters, also known as Golden hamsters are native to Syria and Turkey. To locate these hamster populations, you will need to travel to the arid region of northern Syria and southern Turkey.

Syrian hamsters in the wild are very hygienic creatures. They regularly clean their living quarters and get rid of moldy or rotten food from among their hoard.

Not bad for a wild animal, right?

These animals keep their teeth short by chewing on rough food which they store in their cheek pouches on the way back to their burrows. When there is a lot of food to glean, they may even stuff their cheek pouches so full they can no longer close their mouths!

Now it sounds like these wild animals know how to prepare a hearty meal!

The Origins of Wild and Pet Hamsters

There are about 20 species of hamsters known to man that are unique and have originated from slightly different places across the world.

Today, we looked through wild hamsters from Syria like Syrian hamsters and the famous domesticated hamsters known as Teddy bear hamsters. And also other wild rodents like the European hamster from Germany.

In addition, we have looked at some interesting information about domesticated hamsters and wild ones from Asia. These include Dwarf, Chinese, and Djungarian hamsters.

(Video) Wild Hamster Has A Graveyard Feast | Seven Worlds, One Planet | BBC Earth

Have you enjoyed reading about these different species of hamsters and their origins? Then check out some of the other informative articles where you will learn more about Oddly Cute Pets of every kind.

Thanks for reading!


Where did hamsters come from originally? ›

Hamsters are common household pets that originated in the wild terrain of southeast Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Some are bred for life in captivity, and some are adapted for use in scientific research. Today, there are still populations of wild hamsters around the world, but they are relatively rare.

When did hamster first appear on Earth? ›

Their evolutionary history is recorded by 15 extinct fossil genera and extends back 11.2 million to 16.4 million years to the Middle Miocene Epoch in Europe and North Africa; in Asia it extends 6 million to 11 million years.

What did hamsters evolve from? ›

According to scientists, all domestic Syrian hamsters are descended from one doe whose pups were brought to Jerusalem in 1930.

Do all hamsters come from Syria? ›

In fact, there are 26 species of wild hamster that run free in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, including Mesocricetus auratus, the Syrian hamster, which comes from the region surrounding Aleppo, Syria—the city currently under siege amid the Middle Eastern country's ongoing war.

Did hamsters used to be wild? ›

Hamsters were not bred for domestic life until 1939. In the wild they like to live in warm, dry areas, like sand dunes or the edge of deserts, which explains why the first hamsters were discovered in Syria. They also live in the wild in more diverse countries, such as Greece, Romania, Belgium and northern China.

Are hamsters basically rats? ›

There are many key differences between a rat vs hamster. Hamsters are members of the Cricetidae family, while rats are members of the Muridae family. Rats have extremely long tails, while hamsters do not. Hamsters are found in a wider variety of colors and patterns compared to the relatively plain appearance of a rat.

Are there wild hamsters in America? ›

There are 18 species of wild hamster, but only 4 of these have been domesticated to become household pets. The Syrian hamster is by far the most common pet hamster found across the United States and nearly all pet hamsters are descended from the first domesticated Syrian species.

What was the oldest living hamster? ›

The oldest hamster ever to live in captivity was 4.5 years old and lived in the UK. An old hamster age differs based on their type, e.g., some Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster live only one year, while Chinese Hamsters have a life expectancy is up three years.

Why are hamsters born blind? ›

After hamsters are born, it's nearly two weeks before they'll open their eyes. Hamsters do not have good eyesight, they are nearsighted and also colour-blind. Hamsters rely on scent to find their way. They have scent glands which they rub on objects along a path.

Are hamsters deaf or blind? ›

Hamsters are naturally very near-sighted. Whereas humans rely primarily on their sense of sight to get around the world, hamsters rely much more on smell and hearing. Just because your hamster doesn't seem to be able to see like a human does not mean anything is wrong.

What are 3 interesting facts about hamster? ›

Amazing Facts About the Hamster

Hamsters are solitary animals. They are extremely territorial and can become very violent if another hamster comes into their territory. Most hamster species are fast runners. The shape and size of their hind feet allow many of them to run backwards as quickly as they run forwards.

Do hamsters have feelings? ›

Like all animals, hamsters have the ability to communicate with one another and with their owners. They use body language much like we do and can display a range of emotions that include being happy, afraid, threatened, curious, startled, angry and many other emotions.

How did hamsters get to the United States? ›

United States

The available evidence identifies three colonies of hamsters arriving in that year, with two colonies said to have come from Saul Adler, and another colony which could have come from him or otherwise which came from Israel Jacob Kligler, who himself got his hamsters from Adler.

Why is my dog so obsessed with my hamster? ›

It is a dog's natural instinct to hunt and to be a predator. The sight, smell and movements of small animals, such as a hamster, make them prey. Your dog's basic instinct will be to hunt the hamster.

What animal is Syria known for? ›

The Official National Animal of Syria. Syria's national coat of arms is adorned with a hawk. Birds of prey have traditionally been a symbol of strength and a source of entertainment and sport throughout the entire region.

What happens if you let a hamster go in the wild? ›

Rescued hamsters found outside are often near death from exposure or malnutrition. In the wild, your hamsters could become prey to animals that live their lives outdoors finding their own food. Your hamsters would likely pick up parasites for which they have no natural resistance.

What would happen if hamsters went extinct? ›

“If we lose this species, the ecosystem could collapse,” Rusin says—and that in turn could harm human communities that rely on the environment for food, water, and other services. “Some people think they're disconnected with nature, but they're not.”

Do hamsters remember humans? ›

A hamster can get to know his or her owner over time and given enough bonding time. See, with the right amount of socialization, your hamster will begin to recognize you. In fact, after a while, they'll even start to bond you. However, hamsters won't bond with everyone in your life; they typically to one or two people.

Are hamsters intelligent? ›

People who own hamsters will not be surprised by this. They know that hamsters are smart. They learn to recognise their owners' voices, and will even respond to some commands. I know somebody who has trained their hamster to sit down and wait, like a little dog, when a treat is waved in front of his nose.

Do hamsters bite more than mice? ›

Mice are far less likely than a hamster to bite, making them overall more satisfactory for handling by a child.

Do hamsters smell you? ›

Yes, hamsters do have a very good sense of smell. In fact, smell is your hamster's first sense he uses when navigating his cage, and figuring things out about you.

What states are hamsters illegal in? ›

Hamster and Gerbil

These furry, round critters are the picture of cuteness, so it might be hard to believe that hamsters are illegal in Hawaii, and gerbils are illegal in Hawaii and California.

Can hamsters bite you? ›

All hamsters may bite. Rodent bites are often small and superficial, but they can also potentially cause deep puncture wounds. All bite wounds should immediately be cleaned vigorously with large volumes of soap and water, and monitored closely for signs of infection.

Are hamsters friendly? ›

Hamsters are naturally friendly pets, to varying degrees. It depends on the species, gender, the amount of hand-taming they have received, their environment (i.e. happy hamsters are friendly hamsters), and whether or not they're being kept on their own.

What is the most common cause of death in hamsters? ›

The most common causes of deaths were “wet tail” (7.9%), abdominal mass (6.4%), cancer (5.4%) and difficulty breathing (4.0%). Compared to other types of hamster, Syrian (golden) hamsters had higher risk of 7/20 (35%) common disorders and lower odds of 1/20 (5%) common disorders groups.

How old is a 2 year old hamster in human years? ›

Here are some estimations:
Hamster ageHuman age
6 months34 years
1 year58 years
2 years70 years
3 years100 years
1 more row

Which hamster is the friendliest? ›

The Syrian hamster is the best species for handling. It is easy to tame, the slowest of the popular pet hamsters, and the least likely to bite. Though docile with humans, they are territorial with other hamsters and should always be housed alone.

Can hamsters poop out their organs? ›

When the young or adult hamster with diarrhea strains a lot to defecate, it can actually prolapse the rectum and bowel.

Why do hamsters have balls? ›

Hamster balls are hollow spheres made of clear plastic into which hamsters, gerbils, degus and other small rodent pets are placed, allowing them to run around outside their cages without the risk of running away or getting lost under furniture. They are designed to provide hamsters with exercise.

Can hamsters detect sadness? ›

A new tool to assess moods in the furry little rodents can tell if they are optimistic or depressed. Hamsters can experience happiness, optimism, sadness and depression much the way that we do, suggests a new study that describes a method for determining the feelings of these cute and cuddly popular pets.

Do hamsters show pain? ›

Hamster health checks

They don't show outward signs of pain, so may suffer before you realise. Stressed hamsters are likely to become ill, so keep a close eye on them and look out for them behaving differently - such as developing repetitive behaviour - as this can show that something's wrong.

Do hamsters remember their names? ›

They love to play, exercise and explore once they've gotten used to you, as well as their new home. Your dwarf hamster is even smart enough to recognize and respond to its own name – once you've trained it to do so.

How often do hamsters sleep? ›

Hamsters usually sleep for about 12-14 hours a day1 but, unlike humans who typically sleep once a day, hamsters have polyphasic sleep-wake patterns. This means that they sleep multiple times a day so this 12-14 hours will be broken up into smaller segments throughout the day.

Can hamsters see in the dark? ›

Yes, hamsters can see at night and are also able to find their way in the darkness. You might start thinking that do hamsters see better in the dark? Not really, it is an established fact that their vision or eyesight is not good.

How to talk to a hamster? ›

Make sure to always approach your pet slowly and talk to them in a conversational manner. They'll learn to recognize your scent and voice and see you as a source of comfort.

Do hamsters like being in a ball? ›

The hamster ball is an exercise device for hamsters. The hamster is enclosed in the ball and can then exercise/run in the ball which then rolls around on the floor. There are concerns that such products may, in fact, be stressful for hamsters and so the RSPCA does not recommend their use.

Do hamsters get grumpy? ›

If your pet hamster nearly bites off your finger as you try to stroke its fur, don't assume it hates you. Maybe it's just in a bad mood. Even hamsters have good moods and bad moods, scientists have found – and a hamster's emotional state can influence its outlook on life.

Is A hamster a Mouse or a rat? ›

Hamsters are indeed rodents, along with other popular pets such as gerbils, guinea pigs, mice and rats.

How did hamsters survive in the wild? ›

In the wild, they dig burrows, which are a series of tunnels, to live and breed in. Hamsters will also store food in their burrows. Living underground keeps wild hamsters cool in hot climates.


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