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Syrian History

The Syrian Hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, commonly called the Golden hamster, is a popular pet in Singapore and has followings in many countries. The history of this hamster, especially of how it became such a smash hit as a pet, seems to differ depending on who is telling the story. The earliest description seems to have been that by Alexander Russell in 1737. Later, in 1930, Saul Alder, a parasitologist, asked a zoologist, Aharoni, to look for a better animal model for his research (he was, at that time, using Chinese hamsters). Aharoni found a mother with 11 pups. Coincidentally, Aharoni was probably the first person to see a syrian mother kill her pups (hamster infanticide) for that was what she did with the first pup that approached her. She was immediately removed from her pups and the babies were hand reared. At this time, the babies had not opened their eyes. Three of these pups survived to reproduce and within a year, there were 150 hamsters. Hamsters were first imported into the United States in 1938. They were used in research until Albert Marsh (a then unemployed highway engineer), won his first hamster in a bet. He began breeding them and promoting them as pets and laboratory animals. He is the author of The Hamster Manual and founded the Gulf Hamstery and Marsh Enterprises. The Gulf Hamstery closed in the 1950s. There were subsequent live captures of syrian hamsters but almost all of the domesticated hamsters in the world today are descendents of the three hamsters captured in the 1930s.

In Singapore...

I have no idea when hamsters were imported into Singapore. If you know, please do email me.

When I had my first hamster, there weren't many colours available. I remember looking hard for a grey and tried to find out how to breed one, when I realized that the genes weren't even present in our gene pool. Today, recent imports of hamsters have contributed to that gene pool and we have black, grey, black eyed whites, and many more colour variations.

Syrians/ Campbells/ Winter Whites/ Roborovskis / Email me

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