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A little history:

The first recording of the Golden Hamster (Syrian) appeared in the Second Edition of the Natural History of Aleppo. Although Alexander Russell published the First Edition in 1797, it is unknown whether he or his brother, Patrick, published the Second Edition and discovered the Syrian Hamster. But regardless, it was not recorded as a new species. There doesn't appear to be a documented recording of when the Syrian was first recorded as a new species.
George Robert Waterhouse, the Curator of the London Zoological Society, eventually named the Syrian, or Golden, in 1839. Originally the species was called Cricetus Auratus, but later changed to Mesocricetus Auratus.
The majority of Syrian hamsters in captivity were captured by Israel Aharoni, a Zoologist, at the request of Saul Alder, a researcher on Leishmaniasis who required hamsters that would breed more readily than the Chinese hamsters he had been working with.

A female and 11 young were unearthered on April 12, 1930 by Aharoni. Several problems occurred with the family, including cannibalism of one of the litter by the mother, which led to the euthanasia of the mother hamster. The remaining pups were hand-reared, with some losses and the "escape" of two. However, the four remaining reached adulthood and bred successfully in the laboratory. They were used extensively in laboratories until they were introduced into the British pet market in the 1940s - the first British Hamster Club was form in 1945.
The species Mesocricetus Auratus is frequently referred to as both the Golden Hamster and the Syrian Hamster. However, Golden is also the description of one of the coat colors (the original color discovered) and sometimes called the wild type Syrian Hamster, or the natural color.
Due to the length of time it's been popular as a pet it has emerged in many different colors and coat varieties. In the wild Syrian hamsters live deep underground in burrows, often many feet deep. Like most hamsters the Syrian hamster is nocturnal, and spends most of the day napping. This has a lot to do with the climate in their native Syria which is very hot during the day, and considerably cooler at night. Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and should not be housed together. They will fight and serious injuries often result.
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