Anybody who owns a hamster already knows about their peculiarities.
However, those who haven’t had the pleasure of spending time with these furry bundles of playful energy may not be aware of their intriguing history and their oddities.
Here are five fun facts about pet hamsters.
1. Pet hamsters were popularized in the United States by one man, Albert Marsh. He received a hamster as payment for a gambling debt in 1946 and, after acquiring a few more, began breeding them in his home in Mobile, Alabama. Marsh then started advertising his hamsters in comic books, magazines, and livestock trade journals. In 1948, he published a book, The Hamster Manual, which sold 80,000 copies.
2. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures. They normally sleep during the day and are active in the evening and night. So they are perfect for the family that is absent from the house – at school or work – during the day and returns home in the evening. However, it’s not a good idea to keep the cage in your bedroom, as their nighttime activity could interrupt your sleep.
3. Hamsters are nearsighted and color-blind. They rely on smell and taste to find their way around. This suits their nocturnal nature and their natural tendency to live in burrows under the ground. Hamsters have scent glands in their sides that leave a trail on the ground, enabling them to retrace their steps in complete darkness.
4. Hamsters are solitary animals. A hamster experiences extreme stress when housed with others of its species. For that reason, it is normally not advisable to keep more than one hamster in the same cage. They will engage in bloody fights. In some situations, a mother will even harm its own babies.
5. Hamsters are hoarders. In fact, the name of the species comes from the German word “hamstern”, which means “hoard”. Hamsters have large cheek pouches – stretching down to their shoulders – in which they store food to bring back to the nest.
Hamsters can be delightful pets for adults or small children. Keep in mind that, like all rodents, they may bite if feeling threatened. If treated with care, they learn to accept human handling. Hamsters are clean, low-maintenance, generally healthy, and highly entertaining pets.