Age Expectancy: 2-3 years
Size: 5-7 inches long
Color: These hamsters come in many different color patterns, from golden to black, cinnamon, orange, gray and multicolored (Tortoiseshell). They can have either red or black eyes.
The golden color was the original color to the breed, which is why they are commonly called “Golden Hamsters”. Alternative names are Teddy Bear Hamsters, Long Haired or Angora Hamsters.
Coat Types: There are five different variations of coats for these hamsters. (Note that all coat patterns can come in various colors). The coat types are Short Haired, Long Haired, Satin, Rex, and Hairless coats.
Go here for more information and examples of coat types.
Temperament: Syrian hamsters are perfect for first time pet owners and children, and also make great classroom pets. They are very hearty animals, their only drawback is their preference to live solitary. Youngsters may begin to fight and possibly injure each other if not properly separated after they are weaned.
Remember that hamsters, like most rodents, are nocturnal and prefer to be active in the evening and at night. Never poke or grab a sleeping hamster, as this can lead to biting, nipping and other territorial tendencies.
Care: The cage (preferably a 10 gallon tank or specialized hamster cage) should have enough room for the hamster to comfortably move around in. Hamsters are surprisingly clean animals and will only use the bathroom in one area of the cage. You will need to remove the soiled bedding from this area every few days. Make sure your hamster has easy access to fresh water that is refilled daily.
For food, make sure you feed only certified hamster food in the amounts indicated on the back of the package. Even similar looking foods like bird food and rat food should not be fed to your hamster, as they aren’t formulated to keep up with the hamsters metabolism which means you could me missing out on some very important nutrients. You can buy hamster food in bulk, small bags, or even by the scoop at your local pet stores. It is a good idea to feed both a mixture of seeds and chew blocks. Hamsters teeth are continually growing and they will need something to wear them down on so as not to cause problems eating.
A salt lick (which can usually be purchased for a quarter) is also another great item to have in the cage at all times. Wire it to the side so it remains clean and unsoiled.
To keep your hamster engaged and happy, it is reccomended that the hamster be out of the cage at least twenty minutes to an hour daily. Spend a few minutes holding and petting your hamster to keep them hand-tamed, and if possible allow them the rest of the time to roam and explore in a safe area. Be sure to clear the area of cords and other items that you wouldn’t want to be chewed. If you would prefer a more safe, reliable approach to “free roaming”, you can purchase a hamster sized wire playpen from your local pet store, or even Wal-Mart. This will ensure that your hamster can run and play without worry. (If you have other pets, keep an eye on them while they are around your pet. You can never trust a dog or a cat around such small animals, even if you feel like you can).