Hamster , subfamily Cricetinae , any of 18 Eurasian species of rodents possessing internal cheek pouches. The golden hamster Mesocricetus auratus of Syria is commonly kept as a pet. Hamsters are stout-bodied, with a tail much shorter than their body length, and have small furry ears, short stocky legs, and wide feet. Their thick long fur ranges from grayish to reddish brown, depending upon the species; underparts range from white to shades of gray and black. The Dzhungarian hamster Phodopus sungorus and the striped dwarf hamster Cricetulus barabensis have a dark stripe down the middle of the back. Dwarf desert hamsters genus Phodopus are the smallest, with a body 5 to 10 cm about 2 to 4 inches long.
Fill the habitat with treats, and toys a wheel or tunnels for exercise and chew toys to make it a happy hamster home. Hamsters like to chew, gnaw and gnash. Choose a habitat with a solid bottom or go for a glass aquarium tank with a well-ventilated wire mesh top. Line the habitat with 1 to 2 inches of aspen, pine or recycled-paper. Pellet food is a good bet for feeding your hamster. It stops them from picking out the most delicious morsels.
Classification and evolution
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Hamsters are rodents order Rodentia belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains 18 species classified in seven genera. 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. 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. Taxonomists generally disagree about the most appropriate placement of the subfamily Cricetinae within the superfamily Muroidea. Some place it in a family Cricetidae that also includes voles , lemmings , and New World rats and mice ; others group all these into a large family called Muridae. Their evolutionary history is recorded by 15 extinct fossil genera and extends back Four of the seven living genera include extinct species.