It’s time to enjoy some of the most fascinating hamster facts for kids including hamster diet, habitat, lifespan, and reproduction. Hamsters (Cricetidae) are seed-eating (granivorous) rodents that belong to the order of Rodentia.
Around 20 hamster species are classified into separate subfamilies; out of which 6 species are found in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, these are mouselike hamsters.
While the golden hamsters (Mesocricetus) inhabits all throughout the range of Middle East and eastern Europe, the black-bellied hamsters largely occupy the extensive range of northern China, Central Europe, and Russia. Some other species like ratlike hamsters are found in northern Asia and Europe.
While most hamster species are admired for their successful domestication, there are some that do not resemble the domesticated form. One such species is a ratlike or mouselike hamster which has long ears and long tail and is only suited to its desert habitat.
Hamster Facts For Kids
- Hamsters are characterized by their short tails, furry ears, stocky legs, and wide feet.
- The length of the tail varies with the breed in that some species have a fairly long tail and ears as compared to the rest.
- The color of the fur also ranges from grey, brown, colored black, honey, to yellow and reddish. The species belong to the genus Phodopus are the smallest in the family with the length measuring at 5.5 – 10.5 cm (2.2 – 4.1 inches).
- The European hamster is the largest species and it is 34 cm (13.4 inches) long, with the tail measures at 6 cm (2.4 inches).
- All these species are herbivorous as they predominantly rely on plants and seeds which they carry to their underground burrows to store for the winter.
- Hamsters are aggressive species and they only meet at the time of mating. They are regarded as agricultural pests in certain areas and are not considered as endangered species.
- While in captivity, one should not bath (with water) hamsters for they are meant to survive in deserts and they are likely to catch a cold if you bath them with water especially.
- Hamsters are primarily nocturnal species. You can observe them even in captivity that they tend to be more active during night as compared to that in day.
- When in captivity, one should respect them while keeping them singly for they are antisocial animals. They won’t hesitate to fight with any animal with which they are kept.
- Syrian hamsters have a short hair and they are also known as dwarf hamsters or teddy bear hamsters.
- Like hares, hamsters also make underground burrows with the length measuring at 0.5 – 2.0 meters below the surface.
- They are highly territorial species and only one species use one burrow at a time.
- The male hamsters generally have a larger territory (0,5-2ha) as compared to that of females (0,1-0,6ha). The male has several females within its territory due to its polygamous nature.
- They have a poor sight and are also colorblind.
- Food hoarding is the most familiar characteristic of hamster’s behavior in which they carry cheek pouches to the underground burrows.
- Hamsters are solitary and if kept together, they may undergo stress
- These animals have a reproduction period from June to the end of August. The female usually litters two babies per year.
- The gestation period ranges from 17 to 21 days. However, when the conditions are favorable for their reproduction, they may produce 3 – 8 litters.
- Their litter size also depends on the food availability.
- During winter, hamsters hibernate in burrows which normally last from September to April.
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- Hamsters are primarily herbivorous and they feed on vegetable and plants matter. However, they should be fed with lean seeds (not oats) since they are rich in carbohydrates.
- Hamsters are very fond of eating fruits and vegetables and other plants matter. They have a fast metabolism rate and they need food and water consistently.
- While feeding, bear in mind that the food must be according to the size and breed of hamster for some species have smaller teeth, so they must be fed with chewy pieces of either biscuits, unprepared wood, or even stones (that are available in stores for hamster’s diet).
- Hamster’s diet may also form small vertebrates and invertebrates which comprises 10 – 15% of their diet.
- One should ensure an abundant supply of freshwater to these rodents and for this it’d be better to take a water bottle designed for hamsters. If they are not provided with freshwater, they are likely to undergo constipation.
- Do not make fast changes in the hamster’s diet and be consistent in feeding them.
- Never feed them sweets or a stuff like chocolates.
You may feed your hamster with all these basic fodders.
- Potato tubers
Distribution and Habitat
- Hamsters are adapted for living in deserts and fertile lowland steppic grasslands. However, many of their habitats are now changed into agricultural lands and consequently hamsters mostly live in agricultural fields.
- The more productive the agricultural area, the more optimal is the habitat for these animals.
- They are primarily found in annual crops, but they also reside in perennial fodder crops comprising legumes and grasses since these habitats offer a consistent supply of food and water.
- Summer cereals are generally less suitable habitats as compared to winter cereals.
- Hamsters can also survive in less preferred habitats like roadsides, field edges, and even in ditches. In these habitats, hamsters feed on wild plants and invertebrates.
- Some species are also found in fallow land and meadows.
- Hamsters have a fairly short lifespan in that they live no more than 2 – 3 years in captivity and much less in the wild. Russian hamsters are generally known to live 3 – 4 years in captivity while Chinese hamsters have a life span of 2.5 – 3 years.
- Roborovski, being the smaller species, survives no more than 2 – 3 years in captivity. This follows that hamster’s lifespan is largely determined by its breed.
Different Types of Hamsters
- Chinese Hamster
- Campbells Russian Dwarf Hamster
- Winter, white Russian Dwarf Hamster
- Roborovski’s Dwarf Hamster
- Mongolian Hamster
- Gansu Hamster
- Long-tailed Dwarf Hamster
- Golden Hamster
- Turkish Hamster
- European Hamster
- Kam Dwarf Hamster
- Tibetan Hamster
- Romanian Hamster
- Sokolov’s Hamster