Hamsters are rodents which belong to the subfamily Cricetinae that has a total of six genera (plural for genus, a class or group with common features). These six genera are known as the following: Allocricetulus, Cansumys, Cricetulus, Cricetus, and the two most common genera, Mesocricetus or the golden hamsters, and Phodopus or the dwarf hamsters. Under the group of Mesocricetus or golden hamsters is the species M. auratus for which the Syrian hamster belongs to. Other names for the Syrian hamster are standard hamster, fancy hamster, long-haired Syrian hamster, teddy bear hamster, black bear hamster, and European black bear hamster.
There was really no native black bear hamster since the discovery of hamsters in the 19th century. Their coats were originally in golden colors. They were first found in Syria in 1839 by British zoologist George Waterhouse who was working in Syria when he discovered an elderly female hamster. It now makes sense why they are called “Syrian” hamsters. At that time, the rodent was still an undocumented mammal. It did not belong to any group of species yet, and so he named it Cricetus auratus. However another zoologist known as Professor Israel Aharoni visited Syria in 1929 and found a mother hamster and her litter in the desert. The ones that made it to the University of Jerusalem despite the long, arduous trip were given over to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where they were bred. They were the same species that Waterhouse found, but were thought to be different because they appear a little bigger but look similar. So they were named Mesocricetus auratus. These hamsters arrived in the United Kingdom in 1931 and in the United States in 1938.
It was only in the period between 1985 and 1986 when black mutation of the Syrian hamster first occurred in France. Thus, we now have what we know as the black bear hamster which is known to be the most popular pet hamster ever due to their unique black color and tame nature.