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.
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.
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.
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.