The Syrian hamster, or golden hamster, is the most popular choice of pet hamster due to its low cost, ease of care and the many different color variations available. They are also generally easy to tame and, due to their large size, they are the easiest hamster to handle.
However, they are not sociable and fighting will occur if they are housed together. They should therefore be kept as a single pet or kept in separate cages.
The Syrian hamster is commonly known as the golden hamster because its original and most widespread color is golden brown with a white belly, but there are now several different color and coat variations of this hamster. Others include the Long Haired Syrian hamster, also known as the Teddy Bear hamster, the Hairless Syrian hamster, also known as the Alien hamster, and the Black Syrian hamster, also known as the Black Bear hamster.
They have hairless feet and a very short tail, while like all hamsters they also have expandable cheek pouches to carry food and bedding.
Adult Syrian hamsters range from 5 to 7 inches in length and as such are the largest type of pet hamster, but they are still easy for small children to handle.
A Syrian hamster can be expected to live for between 2 and 3 years, although they can sometimes live for 4 years.
Syrian hamsters are easy to tame, but may be nippy, particularly if handled during the day when they would normally be sleeping.
They tend to be a solitary animal and once they have reached 6 to 10 weeks of age they will not usually be happy to live with another hamster, with fighting a very real possibility. This fighting will be likely to occur during the night due to the nocturnal nature of hamsters and so could easily go unseen until serious injury occurs. Therefore the Syrian hamster is ideal if you are looking for a single pet, but if you wish to keep more than one then you should house them in separate cages in order to keep them happy and free of injury.
Due to their large size, you should be careful when buying cages and toys for Syrian hamsters as there may be small openings through which they could have difficulty squeezing. Hamster wheels also need to be large enough for them to use comfortably.