Domesticated hamsters are developed from one female wild golden hamster known as Mesocricetus auratus and her 12 offspring. The original hamsters were collected by Dr. Aharoni in Northern Syria in 1930. After setting up a breeding programme in Jerusalem, he sent a number of hamsters to the UK and some to the USA, for use in laboratories. In 1945 they were introduced into the pet trade.
Hamsters live for a short time and usually only live for 1 1/2 to years in the wild and up to three years in captivity.
The golden hamster is found in the steppe regions of North West Syria.
Hamsters are nocturnal but are sometimes active during the day. They are loners and live in burrows. They feed on vegetation, fruit and seeds, storing any surplus food in their cheek pouches which they empty into their burrow and hoard for future consumption.
Females produce several litters a year, usually with 6-7 young.