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Care of hamsters in the veterinary environment

02 March 2023
7 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 2
Figure 1. Golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) balancing on a rope. This type of hamster is the most popular pet hamster. - ©Bildagentur-Online /O.diez /Science Photo Library


Hamsters are a solitary species, originating from south east Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Since their introduction to the United States of America in 1938, they have grown in popularity as pets. When in the veterinary environment, their temperature and clinical signs should be monitored regularly and the correct diet should be provided. Owners should be advised of the signs and symptoms to look out for to ensure rapid and proper veterinary treatment.

Hamsters are a domestic pet native to south east Asia and Europe. The first female and 11 pups were brought to a university in Jerusalem, and from the surviving four littermates, the entire domesticated world population of hamsters was developed. Syrian hamsters were brought to the United States of America in 1938 (Vinerean, 2023).

In 2014, approximately 500 000 hamsters were kept as pets in the UK, according to estimates from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (Mancinelli and Bament, 2014). There are many breeds of hamsters, including Chinese, Teddy and Russian, but the most common is the Syrian or Golden hamster (Figure 1). The Syrian hamster is a typically nocturnal species like all rodents, and they must not be kept in groups or pairs because of their territorial nature. Females are generally more aggressive than males and keeping them in groups, whether in a domestic or veterinary environment, can lead to aggression and risk of injury (Lennox and Bauck, 2012; Elidio et al, 2021).

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