Hamster (species)

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A hamster, specifically a dwarf hamster

Hamsters are rodents (order Rodentia) belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae of the family Cricetidae.

Hamsters are more crepuscular than nocturnal and, in the wild, remain underground during the day to avoid being caught by predators. They feed primarily on seeds, fruits, and vegetation, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects. Physically, they are stout-bodied with distinguishing features that include elongated cheek pouches extending to their shoulders, which they use to carry food back to their burrows, as well as a short tail and fur-covered feet.


The name "hamster" is a loanword from the German, which itself derives from earlier Middle High German hamastra. It is possibly related to Old Church Slavonic khomestoru, which is either a blend of the root of Russian хомяк (khomyak) "hamster" and a Baltic word (cf. Lithuanian staras "hamster"); or of Persian origin (cf. Av hamaēstar "oppressor"). The collective noun for a group of hamsters is "horde". In German, the verb "hamstern" is derived from "Hamster", which means "Hoarding".


The hamster subfamily contains 19 species classified in seven genera. The best-known species of hamster is the golden or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), which is the type most commonly kept as a pet.

Other hamster species commonly kept as pets are the three species of dwarf hamster, Campbell's dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli), the winter white dwarf hamster (Phodopus sungorus) and the Roborovski hamster (Phodopus roborovskii).

The alternate spelling hampster has sometimes been used since the hampsterdance website became popular in 1999, which later resulted in the 2001 novelty hit The Hampster Dance by Hampton the Hampster.

See also[edit]

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