Species: Cricetus cricetus (European Hamster)
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered (European hamsters)
Population Trend: Decreasing
Common hamster: Cricetus cricetus
Grey hamster: Cricetulus migratorius
Dwarf hamster: Phodopus sungorus
Golden hamster: Mesocricetus auratus
Habitat: dry places, on steppes, sand dunes, borders of deserts. Common hamster also found on agricultural land and river banks.
Life-span: about 2 years.
Food: mainly seeds, grasses, root vegetables, fruits, corn and pulse crops. Common hamster also eats insects, lizards, frogs and small mammals.
Common hamster: Belgium to Lake Baikal in Siberia;
Grey hamster: Greece and Bulgaria to borders of Outer Mongolia;
Dwarf hamster: Siberia, Manchuria and northern China.
Golden hamster: now only found in pet shops, it has not been found in the wild since 1930 but originally ranged from Romania and Bulgaria through the Caucasus and Asia Minor to Iran.
Common hamster:- guinea-pig size, reddish-brown above, black below, white bands on shoulders; very short tail.
Golden hamster:- light reddish-brown above, white underneath.
The seven species of grey hamster have mousey or reddish coloured fur and longer tails. The dwarf hamster is the smallest, with greyish or buff upperparts, white underparts and a short tail. The golden hamster is the most well-known hamster, having been kept as a popular pet for many years. However, there are about 14 species of hamster, ranging from the guinea-pig sized common hamster to the tiny dwarf hamster, 5 - 10cm in length. They are short-tailed rodents, similar in many ways to gerbils and voles.