8 Fun Facts about Hamsters
Almost everyone loves hamsters. They’re adorable and relatively easier to care for than other pets like dogs, cats, and fish among others. These pets make lovely introductory animals to children, too. But did you know that there are a number of really interesting and fascinating things about these adorable creatures aside from the fact that they are fun to watch as they spin their exercise wheels? Here are 8 really fun and fascinating facts about hamsters you may want your children to know.
1. They are not nocturnal creatures; they’re crepuscular.
Contrary to popular belief, hamsters are not nocturnal creatures, although they really are more active once the sun has set. But the more correct term for them is crepuscular, meaning they love to roam around and forage for food at twilight which is technically that window period between sunset and dusk and between dawn and sunrise. It is believed that hamsters are most active during these times since this correlates to the unusually high activity of bugs. It is not completely dark yet so hamsters can see their prey while predators are already tucking in for the night or are still sound asleep.
2. Hamsters come in different sizes from as small as 1.5 inches to as long as 14 inches.
It is a known fact that hamsters come in different breeds, hence in different sizes. Roborovski hamsters are the smallest, typically growing to an average of about 1.5 inches in length. The European hamster, also known as the Eurasian hamster, can grow up to 14 inches long. Speaking of the Eurasian, this species of hamster is known to store up to 35 pounds of grain and 11 pounds of potatoes in addition to 90 pounds of other foodstuffs in its food storage chambers underground. Now talk about doomsday preparations.
3. They love to hoard and they do it with utmost efficiency.
Did you know the origin of the word ‘hamster’? As it turns out it is rooted from ‘hamstern’, a German word that means ‘to hoard’. No wonder one of the most famous attributes of hamsters is their proficiency in hoarding, filling their mouths with food, pushing every morsel inside their extra-large cheek pouches. These cheek pouches can actually extend all the way to the shoulders of hamsters, giving them a really neat food storage mechanism that will last them many hours. Don’t worry. They just keep the food inside these pouches until they feel they need a snack.
4. Hamster pups are born blind.
For the first 2 weeks of life, hamster pups (yes, they’re called pups, too) are blind, naked, and definitely deaf. This can pose a lot of problems for the young ones. Extremes of temperature can lead to problems. They won’t be able to hear or see their mommy, too. Mommy hamsters are programmed by nature to take care of their pups from birth, unless there is a need for some litter reduction efforts. If you happen to transfer your scent on these pups, mommy hamster will no longer care for them. That is why it is not really a good idea to clean your hamster cage if you have newborn litter inside.
5. Their incisors never stop growing.
If you think Bugs Bunny is the only creature on earth that has unusually large front teeth, think again. Hamsters continue to grow their front teeth or incisors for as long as they live which typically means a good 2 to 4 years, depending on the breed of hamster that you have. Now you know why hamsters really have to chew. It is their natural way of slowing down the continuing growth of the incisors. If they didn’t chew especially on hard objects, there is a tendency that their incisors will grow longer than normal, making it extremely difficult for them to open their mouths properly.
6. Some hamsters are very prolific at making baby hammies.
The gestation cycle of hamsters – that period in a mammal’s life extending from conception until birth – is the shortest in the animal kingdom. Barring adverse birth conditions, a female hamster can start giving birth in as short as 16 days with 30 days being the longest. However, if there are problems in the pregnancy, the delivery of hamster pups can be delayed for another 9 days. And get this. A mommy hamster that has just given birth can actually get pregnant again within the same day of delivery. Now imagine if humans were as prolific as hamsters, we’d definitely need several planets to populate.
7. Some hamsters eat their young.
While hamsters are very prolific when it comes to reproducing, they can be terrible single parents, too. Some hamsters are known to devour their young especially when their litter is simply too big that they don’t like having to face food shortage. Interestingly, some hamsters are known to give birth up to 24 pups at a time. Imagine 24 hungry little mouths to feed and you’d definitely understand why the mommy hamster will take desperate measures to keep the litter as practical as possible. Some hamsters are also known to terminate their pregnancies. You can call it hamster abortion if you must.
8. Most hamsters are genetically pre-destined to lead a solitary life.
Most people think that hamsters are social animals. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The thing is that hamsters are extremely territorial and you know what this means. They’ll defend their ‘hood’ if they think another hamster is trying to invade. That is why they’re ideally kept alone, especially Syrians. Other hamsters like Dwarfs, Chinese, or Russian are also territorial. However, as long as you put them with another hamster of their relation – littermates or mommy-child – then it should be perfectly okay. Otherwise, prepare for a turf war of the furriest kind.
It’s safe to assume you didn’t know some or all of these things about that favorite pet of yours. Well now you know. So the next time you wish to sponsor a hamster trivia for your child’s birthday, keep these bits of info in mind.
Olivia Williams is mum of 2 and a true animal lover with 3 dogs, 2 cats and a parrot called Charlie. Heading up the content for My Pet Needs That amongst a busy family schedule, her goal is to try help people all around the world become better pet owners.