33 Fun Facts About Teddy Bear Hamster

The teddy bear hamster is a loved pet in many households around the world. This shaggy, frazzle-haired critter has wiggled its way into hearts and homes around the country.

Unbeknownst to you, your pet may have a few hidden secrets lurking in its closet! 

Sit back and relax as we explore 33 teddy bear hamster facts that you never knew about.

calm looking hamster
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1. It’s just a regular Syrian hamster with longer hair

In 1973, pet owners began noticing that some newborn Syrian hamsters had extremely long and fluffy hair.

 It was only until a while later that the mutation was identified and this variant was given a nickname – “the Teddy Bear Hamster”.

2. The long hair manifested as the result of a recessive gene

It is believed that the gene responsible for the mutation of Syrian hamsters which gives them their long hair appeared in 1972. It’s a recessive gene, meaning that in order to create another hamster pup with long hair, both of its parents need to have the gene.

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3. Its natural habitat is the hot, sandy dunes of the Syrian deserts

Teddy bear hamsters might seem so soft and lovable that you may not have realized that they evolved in a very harsh desert climate. They’ve survived wild predator attacks and whirling sandstorms for hundreds of years.

4. It first set paw on American soil in 1936

After a couple of zoologists discovered a hairy version of the Syrian hamster in the desert, they were immediately intrigued and brought a few of them over to the United States. Most of the teddy bear hamsters in the US today descended from those original pilgrims.

5. It’s part of the Rodentia order of animals, which includes rats and mice

It may be a rodent, but it’s definitely no pest. Teddy bear hamsters have the large front teeth and long tail, but none of the diseases that their distant cousins carry around.

6. Its eyes are round and black

The irises of its eyeballs are quite small, unlike what you would see in the eyes of most other pets. They’re also perfectly round and black, giving it the appearance of buttons or beads.

7. The females grow larger than the males

The irises of its eyeballs are quite small, unlike what you would see in the eyes of most other pets. They’re also perfectly round and black, giving it the appearance of buttons or beads.

8. The females grow larger than the males

Move out of the way boys; girls are the new strong-arm in the hamster world. Female long-haired teddy bear hamsters tend to grow much larger than their male counterparts. Girl power!

9. But the males have longer hair than the females

Males can have a long flowing “skirt” of hair that flows down to the sides of their legs.

10. It loves to party all night and sleep all day

As a result of their experiences in the desert long ago, teddy bear hamsters have it hardwired in their brains to sleep during the day while it’s hot outside and while there are more apex predators on the prowl. Although there’s nothing to fear in your room, they just can’t kick the habit.

11. It’s naturally crepuscular, not nocturnal

Hamsters in the wild are crepuscular, which means that they sleep during the day and are most active during the twilight hours of dusk and dawn. Most people tend to believe that they are nocturnal, not realizing that only captive hamsters act this way.

12. Wild teddy bear hamsters live in underground burrows

The desert Syrian hamsters learned how to dig underground homes to provide safety from larger animals and the extreme heat. They’re expert excavators and true miners of the animal kingdom.

13. It’s an omnivorous animal

Another little-known fact is that teddy bear hamsters also enjoy a meaty side dish in addition to their standard fare of grains, nuts, and vegetables. Being omnivorous, they enjoy eating fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds, herbs, grains, and meat.

14. It’s a loner

Wild Syrian hamsters’ burrow is built for one. They live a solitary life and prefer to hunt and forage alone. Having another hamster attempt to live in the same space would result in a physical altercation, to say the least.

15. If placed together with any other species of hamster, it will attack

Teddy bear hamsters are also territorial. They should never be put in proximity with any other type of hamster, male or female. In the wild, they’re usually running solo in their burrows.

16. It’s got built-in cheek backpacks

Teddy bear hamsters have the same type of cheek pouches that are common in other hamsters. These pouches extend up to their shoulders when entirely filled and they’re used as on-the-go storage for food. In times of danger, the mother can also use them as a hiding place for her babies.

17. It can enter a trance by going into deep meditation

Well, not really. But teddy bear hamsters do have a unique method of self-preservation called “torpor”. This trance-like state is a form of hibernation, but without the hamster actually being asleep.

This hibernation mode is mostly triggered when the air temperature becomes too cold. The hamster will stay very still, decrease its breathing and heart rate, and might even look dead.

18. Your cute and furry friend won’t live too long

Teddy bear hamsters have a short lifespan – only around 2 to 2.5 years. However, some have been known to live for as long as 4 years. Don’t get too attached!

19. One hamster year is the equivalent of 30 human years

So, a 4-year-old teddy bear hamster is the equivalent of a 120-year-old human. Make sure to give your pet plenty of love and attention while you still have it around.

20. Teddy bear hamsters are blind at birth

All hamsters are born blind and it takes about two weeks for them to be able to see properly. During these two weeks, they’re usually kept safe by their mother in a specially-prepared nest. Don’t disturb the nest or the mother might do something terrible like the next not so fun fact.

21. Mothers sometimes cannibalize their newborn babies

For an unknown reason, mother hamsters sensing danger nearby will voluntary send their children back to where they came from. Perhaps they figure that a quick death by their hand is better than a painful and gruesome death by a predator.

22. It can learn its name

Teddy bear hamsters are actually pretty smart for small rodents with tiny brains. It’s possible to train a hamster to respond to its name. It doesn’t actually know what a name is, of course. When it hears you say its name, it’s simply responding in the way that it was conditioned to.

23. It has very poor eyesight but a good sense of smell and hearing

Teddy bear hamsters are actually pretty smart for small rodents with tiny brains. It’s possible to train a hamster to respond to its name. It doesn’t actually know what a name is, of course. When it hears you say its name, it’s simply responding in the way that it was conditioned to.

24. Mother hamster may carry babies inside its cheek pockets for protection

Sensing a predator nearby, a mother hamster can use her cheek pocket to hide a baby inside. What better way is there to protect your child than to put it in your mouth?

This, however, can sometimes have an unfortunate and unintended result – the mother accidentally swallows the baby. Yes, life in the animal kingdom is pretty rough.

25. Teddy bear hamster babies are called pups

What did you think they would be called? Cubs?

26. It’s hairless at birth

A teddy bear hamster’s entrance to our world is pretty harsh. It’s blind, hairless, and can hardly move.

27. “Hamster” comes from the German word “hamstern” which means “to forage”

The wild teddy bear hamsters live to forage and bring back their treasures to hoard in the burrow. In fact, that’s all they do for the majority of their lives. Go out, avoid death, eat, bring back food, sleep, repeat.

28. It’s a part-time contortionist

Teddie bear hamsters have extremely flexible bodies and can squeeze through very tight openings. This is why people frequently call them “escape artists”. If you’re using a cage, make sure the door is always locked and that the bars aren’t too far apart. A tank is harder to escape from but they can still push the lid off if it’s not secured.

29. Certain types of wood are dangerous to Teddy Bear hamsters

Studies have determined that cedarwood and pinewood contain elements that are toxic to hamsters and can cause death. Don’t use these types of wood as toys or for bedding material.

30. It uses its scent glands as a way to navigate

Having poor eyesight, Teddy Bear hamsters have another way to help them find their way around. There are scent glands located on their hips which they’ll rub against objects in order to mark the area. When backtracking or trying to find their way home, their keen sense of smell can pick up the scent.

31. It can run backward as quickly as it can forward

Due to the size and shape of their hind feet, teddy bear hamsters have the amazing ability to scurry either forward or backward at the same speed. This skill was developed during their time in the wild, when they would sometimes need to escape from an intruding predator by going backward down a tunnel into their underground burrow.

32. It likes to hide food under the bedding

Being awake all night with nothing to do can make anyone, or anything, go crazy. While Teddy Bear hamsters will usually spend their hours running for miles on their exercise wheels, they can sometimes become bored and get into mischief elsewhere in the shelter.

One of their favorite pastimes, besides defecating in the bedding, is to hide food underneath it.

33. There are certain foods that are toxic to teddy bear hamsters

An example of such foods would be citrus fruits like oranges and pineapples. They must never be fed to hamsters as the high acid content is too much for them to handle.

Garlic, onions, and peppers are toxic to most animals including hamsters. Junk food is bad for their health. Chocolate or anything with caffeine can cause seizures or palpitations. Avoid feeding these to your hamster if you want it to see the light of another day.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great article!

    In fact, I didn’t know number 31 about running backwards. That is quite incredible and I know I would probably get stuck on a wall at some point in time!

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Author Bio

Carlye Yancey

Carlye Yancey

Between internships, volunteering, and paid jobs over the last 4 years, I have pretty much-gained experience with domesticated animals. Currently being in school for my veterinary technology degree, I spend my leisure time with 3 critters that I own.

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