Hamsters are awesome pets for humans, but people always curious about how and where do hamsters live outside of pet stores. They are actually very well to adapt and live joyfully in the wilderness without cages, toys, wheels, and without owners caring for them.
Since these guys are small in sizes yet fast movers, it is quite impossible to spot them in the wild. So, where on earth do they live and how do they live and survive in the fierce world of the wilderness?
In this article, we will enlighten you on where do hamsters live outside of pet stores so you can mimic as close as possible their natural habitat from the wild to your own home.
Where Do Hamsters Come From?
All hamsters, regardless of the breed have roots from the wild, even the ones that live with you at home.
Right now, there are about 26 species of them living in the wild in countries from Asia, Europe, Middle East. These countries including Northern China, Greece, Romania, Belgium and etc.
Where Do Hamsters Live in the Wilderness? Generally, they live in the desert because they are comfy in areas where it is dry and warm such as sand dunes and the edge of deserts. In fact, this explains why the very first hamsters were uncovered in Aleppo.
It may be astonishing to know but there are hamsters that still live in the deserts. Though the number of hamsters living in the wild is not big, especially in the case of Syrian hamsters, they’re still there along with their cousins.
WIld Hamsters thrive well in temperatures that range from scorching daytime heat to chilly night time. The extreme temperatures are the reason why hamsters are known for their burrowing behavior.
Interestingly, these little guys have been domesticated fairly recently but the attraction in them is rapidly growing. Let’s take a look at the different species of hamsters and find out originally, where do hamsters live outside of pet stores.
1. Syrian Hamsters
These hamsters lived in the Middle East which is an arid country that is primarily deserts without much change in temperature between seasons. It is hot in the daytime but gets cold at night time. This is a place where food and water are scarce. To protect themselves from the heat, the Syrian hamsters live below the ground and come out at night time when the temp is cooler.
Among the hamster species, this is the one that is well-known and kept as pets. It was discovered by Israel Aharoni, a zoologist from the University of Jerusalem who, during an expedition in 1930 in Aleppo uncovered a Syrian hamster with her 11 babies and from there began the breeding process.
Then, in 1971, a new litter of 12 was discovered in Aleppo and then sent to the US. What follows next is hamster history. These cute and cuddly looking creatures have found their way in homes which includes yours.
2. Winter Whites
They lived in Asia, specifically in the grassland of Mongolia, wheat fields Kazakhstan, northwest China, and Siberia. They lived on flat grasslands and made pockets of lands as their home.
Why are they given such a name? Because they lived in a place where the land area is completely covered with snow. To camouflage, they have the ability to change the color of their fur to pure white during winter.
But in captivity, this does not happen because they are housed indoors and are exposed to the artificial house lighting which stops them from recognizing winter day lengths.
3. Chinese Hamsters
These hamsters have their roots in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China. They do not live in burrows as they prefer to live in a hole not too deep under the ground. Though they also find desert appealing they would rather live only on the edges of the desert and avoid true deserts.
Their domestication started in 1919 but not as pets but as laboratory animals to study diseases like pneumonia and influenza. So, while playing with your Chinese hamster, realize that its ancestors played a huge role in the advancement of medicine.
4. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters
These small creatures were ‘unearthed’ from Tuva in 1902 by W.C Campbell where the temperature ranged from 100 degrees Fahrenheit at daytime and then drops to 40 degrees come night time.
Some of them were also found in the steppes and semi-arid locations in Central Asia, Altay Mountains, and the provinces of Heilungkiang and Hebei in the Northeastern part of China.
Originally, they were intended as laboratory animals in the UK but by the 1980s, they slowly gained popularity as house pets.
Unlike the other species, this one is not as friendly and has the tendency to bite. In fact, it is known as a biting hamster.
5. Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters
This is one of the smaller hamster species which was discovered in Northern China by Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski in the year 1894.
They are also found in the deserts of lake Zaysan in Kazakhstan and in Mongolia. These hamsters prefer areas with loose sands and those that do not have dense vegetation. They are known to use water efficiently making them suited in the desert regions they live.
In the wild, they create up to 6 feet deep off burrows in semi-arid areas.
It is not an aggressive fellow but it is a fast-mover making it less ideal as pets for kids.
What Do Hamsters Eat in the Wilderness?
Wild hamsters diet consists of fruits, vegetables, seeds, insects, and frogs.
Interestingly, these little guys got their name from a German word hamstern which means hoarding. This is the best way to describe their eating behaviors in the wild where not only do they hoard food in their homes but in their cheek pouches, too.
How? Their bodies allow them to store food in two flaps of their skin known as the cheek pouches. These pouches are huge enough to allow hamsters to store food and then carry these into their underground homes and keepsake these during drought.
The Behavior of Wild Hamsters
If you already have hamsters at home, you know that they are skittish creatures. This kind of behavior may be due to being prey to large animals in the wild. They have mastered the art of being alert all the time to escape the eyes of their predators.
Burrowing is another hamster behavior in the wild. They burrow to escape the heat and their enemies in the wild.
Since it is a wild, wild world, these little fellows have mastered the art of coloring. While the golden hamsters are the ones that are domesticated for the longest time, their colors have changed. But their cousins in captivity have remained in them the colors and the markings whilst in the wild.
Wild hamsters are light brown in color while some have backs with gray color and pale-colored-stomachs. Their colored backs allowed them to disguise making it hard for their predators to see them. On the other hand, their pale-colored bellies allow them to reflect and survive extreme temperatures in the desert.
But, if there is one thing that has remained in them all these years in captivity is their sleep patterns. Hamsters, either those in the wild or in your home are nocturnal fellows.
What they do at night time is a lot of digging to give them an ample amount of living areas. They build tunnels which they use to transport food and for breeding purposes, too. Living underground allows them to ‘live in a room with an air conditioner’ during the scorching heat of the day. And, when it gets too cold, these tunnels also work as insulators, cool right?
How Long do Hamsters Live in the Wild?
Due to the dangers in the wild, hamsters have a shorter lifespan as compared when they are in captivity. The Syrian pets live an average of 2 to 3 years but shorter when they are in the wild. The same goes for its cousins. The Campbell hamsters can live between 2 and 4 years in captivity while the Chinese hamsters live for 2.5 to 3 years.
For Roborovski, the average lifespan in the wild is 2 years while in captivity is about 4 years.
These cute little guys are such a delight to have at home. Not only are they fun to watch but it is also interesting to adapt in your own home their natural habitat in the wild. They are mainly desert creatures who prefer warm and dry conditions with lots of digging areas.
So, to answer the question ‘where do hamsters live outside of pet stores?’ Despite their domestication, there are still some of them in the wilderness outsmarting their enemies by hiding and storing food where no one can find them in the deep.