Where do hamsters live in the wild? When I picture hamsters, I think of the cute, fluffy, puffy-cheeked hamster that runs around in a wheel. But, these little creatures weren’t always domesticated pets. And although many species of hamsters now do live in a family home, there are still thousands living in their natural habitats in different corners of the world. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the natural habitats of a few different hamster species, along with how these hamsters live in the wild and the foods they forage to keep themselves alive.
- Where do hamsters live in the wild?
- Syrian hamsters
- European hamsters
- Roborovski Dwarfs
- Dwarf Winter White Russian hamsters
- Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters
- How hamsters live in the wild
- What do wild hamsters eat?
Where Do Hamsters Live in the Wild?
We can find over 18 species of hamster in the wild. And as each hamster comes from a different country, they understandably all have slightly different habitats. Five of the most popular hamster species include the Syrian hamster, the European hamster, the Roborovski Dwarf hamster, the Dwarf Winter White Russian hamster, and the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster. So, let’s take a closer look at what sort of environment each of these hamsters will live in.
1. Syrian Hamsters
The first and most well-known hamster species is the Syrian hamster, and from their name, you may already be able to tell their origin. Syrian hamsters, which we also know as golden hamsters, are native to the deserts of Syria and southern Turkey.
In the 1920s, we almost hunted these popular house pets to extinction. Luckily, the Syrian made a comeback, and although their numbers are still extremely low in the wild, they’re the most favored hamster species for people looking for an adorable tiny companion.
2. European Hamsters
European hamsters have a large geographic distribution, as we can find them in the wild from Belgium all the way to Russia. Many other hamster species live in deserts or meadows, but European hamsters often take shelter in gardens and hedges. These hamsters feed on human agriculture. This is why many people see hamsters as pests and also the reason why this species is endangered in numerous individual European countries.
3. Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters
Roborovski hamsters, or Robo Dwarf hamsters, which you may know them as, are another hamster species that live in the desert. A Roborovski hamster will live in northern Asia, in countries like Kazakhstan and China, and similar to their Syrian cousins, they favor desert conditions as they can burrow and create homes underground.
One of the biggest differences between the Roborovski hamster and the Syrian, however, aside from their size, is the fact that Roborovski hamsters are able to withstand colder temperatures. So, they can remain in these northern Asian countries, even in their particularly cold winters.
4. Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters
Northern Asia is also home to Dwarf Winter White Russian hamsters. Although their name contains the word Russia, we can actually find these hamsters in China, Mongolia and
Kazakhstan as well. And although Dwarf Winter White Russians may live in the same region as Roborovski Dwarfs, they prefer a completely different habitat. They live in meadows as opposed to deserts.
5. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster
The final hamster that you may have seen in the pet store is the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster which originated in the steppes of central Asia. Campbells live in countries like China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, meaning they share a habitat with Dwarf Winter White Russians and Roborovski Dwarfs.
How Hamsters Live in the Wild
Hamsters may live in various countries, but they generally prefer to live in areas that are dry and warm, which is why many species choose deserts, mountainous steppes, and dunes. If you’ve ever seen a hamster, then you will know how small and vulnerable they are. So it may come as no surprise that they dig and burrow to not only protect themselves from predators but to also keep cool on hot and sunny days.
Nocturnal animals, like hamsters, prefer to sleep throughout the day when temperatures are at their hottest and when predators are out looking for food. These tiny animals will typically live in packs. However, some prefer to live by themselves and will become extremely territorial over their burrows and their food.
What Wild Hamsters Eat
If you have a hamster, you probably feed them packaged dried hamster food from the store. And although this food contains all the nutrients and vitamins that they need, hamsters obviously don’t have access to this food in the wild.
Hamsters that still live in their natural habitat forage for grass and weeds. And because these animals are omnivores, they will also occasionally enjoy snacking on bugs, lizards, and possibly frogs, depending on their size and hunting abilities.
In Summary: Where Do Hamsters Live in the Wild?
Hamsters are adorable hand-sized little pets, and it’s often easy to forget that they were once, and still are, wild animals. These tiny animals live in countries all over the world, and although they may prefer slightly different habitats, they typically like to burrow, dig, and protect themselves. Which makes it very difficult for us to study and understand their habits in the wild!