10 Surprising Facts About Hamsters

1. They Are Promiscuous

During breeding season, males travel from burrow to burrow and mate with any female they find, provided said female hasn't already mated.

2. They Are Nocturnal Creatures

Being prey for so many animals, it’s no wonder that most hamsters are nocturnal. They spend their days hiding from snakes, eagles, foxes, badgers, and other carnivores.

3. Their Teeth Never Stop Growing

Like all rodents, hamsters’ incisor teeth have no roots and never stop growing.

4. There Are About 20 Species of Hamsters

Hamsters belong to the family Cricetidae, which includes voles and lemmings as well as rats and mice. The 20 or more species of hamsters are quite varied.

5. They Hoard Food

When they find an abundant source of food, they fill those cheek pouches and return to their burrows, where they have prepared food chambers for storage.

6. Some Hibernate (Sort of)

One species called the golden hamster stays in its burrow, blocks the entrance with soil, and sleeps in a grass-lined nest, waking once per week to eat food it has stashed.

7. They Are Prone to Bacteria and Viruses

Hamsters carry salmonella and, while rare, they are also prone to Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, a virus that can result in flulike symptoms.

8. Hamsters Are Banned in Hawaii

Given their high reproductive rate and the fact that Hawaii’s climate is similar to the hamsters' native habitat, these critters are illegal in Hawaii.

9. European Hamsters Are Critically Endangered

Once widespread throughout Europe, the black-bellied, European, or common hamster is critically endangered.

10. They Have Poor Eyesight

Most hamsters are nearly blind in bright light. It does much better at seeing in dim light, which is why it's a nocturnal animal.