Hamsters are tiny creatures that belong to the rodent family. They belong to the large and complex super family of rodents Muroidea, which includes the following:
- Hamsters– rodents popularly kept as household pets
- Voles– those resemble a mouse but with a stouter body, also known as field mice.
- Lemmings– small, herbivorous rodents found in or near the Arctic.
- Rats– small omnivorous rodents bigger than mice.
- Mice– smaller versions of rats, commonly used in biological experimentation.
Meanwhile, Muroidea, again the large family of rodents, is classified in 6 families, 19 subfamilies, 280 genera, and about 1,300 species. Thus, if we classify hamsters scientifically, it will turn out that they belong to the super family of Muroidea, family of Cricetidae, and subfamily of Cricetinae. Now, under the umbrella of the subfamily Cricetinae are hamsters which then are classified into 7 genera, plural or genus, which is a class or group or hamsters that have similar characteristics. One of these genera is the genus Mesocricetus that represent “golden hamsters”. These golden hamsters have 4 species, for which the black bear hamster belong to the species M. auratus (or Mesocricetus auratus). If you have observed, the species mentioned is always in italicized letters and the first letter of the genus name is capitalized. That has always been the rule in Biology. So, if you are reading this article for research and thesis, do not forget to do the same thing.
Being a rodent, a hamster is known for its large incisor teeth that keep on growing, which naturally requires continual gnawing to keep them from getting larger. Just in case you don’t know yet, that attribute is especially common among many rodents, and the term rodent comes from the Latin word “rodere” which means “to gnaw”, or bite and chew with the teeth. The black bear hamster is within a group of Syrian hamsters, the common name for the species M. auratus, along with other names such as golden hamsters, “teddy bear” hamsters, fancy hamsters, and standard hamsters.
Now that we have discussed a little background on hamsters in general, you are now ready to get more knowledge on black bear hamsters without getting confused as to how they are scientifically classified in the animal kingdom. Originally, Syrian hamsters have golden colors. It is just due to the many different coats and color mutations undergone through numerous breeding experiments, the black mutation of the Syrian hamster occurred around 1985 to 1986 in France. Scandinavian hamster fanciers have also obtained the black bear hamsters. Many parts in Europe that hold hamster shows later had breeders who perfected the breeding of the black hamsters, so much that the skill has reached the United Kingdom and Ireland, where exhibitors and breeders spent a lot of time improving on the qualities of the black Syrian hamster fit for shows. They were then later exported to the United States. Since the new breed was very new in the country, many people have thought that it belongs to a species other than the Syrian hamster, and so terms such as the “black bear” and “European black bear” were used. It has caused confusion for there is also what we know as the European hamster, which is never adopted as a pet for it is naturally seen in the wild only.
The Black Syrian Hamster, or the Black Bear Hamster, is the most common type of hamster that is kept as household pets. It is usually 6 to 7 inches in length and has a very short tail. Its coating is jet black to the roots on its back, sides and belly. Under the chin and its white pinkish feet with claws is a white stripe. Its black fur is soft and thick. Its ears are dark and hairless. It has black eyes and pink nose along with sensory whiskers on the cheeks. There are white marking on its short legs. The younger ones have very dark fur but as they mature their fur turn into brownish black or bluish black. Their front feet have four toes each and five toes on each back feet. The cheek pouches of the black bear are expandable, and if you try to observe your pet you will see that the cheek pouches can manage to carry grain half the hamster’s body weight.
Normally, the black bear is a solitary animal. Although they can get along with other hamsters its age during its first weeks, they hate it when they are caged with another one when they turn 8 to 10 weeks old. They become immediate fighters if you house them together within or beyond those weeks. Therefore, you know now that it is alright for the hamster’s physical and emotional well-being to be alone in its cage, provided that it has some comfortable bedding and toys to chew on. Their average lifespan is 2 to 4 years.
In keeping the black bear healthy and nourished, invest on nutritious foods such as grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Sufficient water supply should also be provided. Fresh water is always the rule. Change water every single day. It is not wise to leave fresh food in its cage. They must be consumed within 24 hours they will make your hamster sickly. Refrain as well from sweet and caffeinated food or beverages. You may also purchase special hamster foods in local pet stores.