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Where Do Hamsters Live in the Wild?

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

June 18, 2021

We know hamsters as cute, furry, lovable pets that live in our homes where it is warm and safe. But not all hamsters are domesticated. Some hamsters live in the wild, just like cougars, tigers, and bears do. They do not have the convenience of living in a protected habitat or being fed all the proper foods that they need for survival. They certainly do not have access to fun toys like pet hamsters do. They have to work for every morsel that they eat, drop of water that they drink, and a safe place that they can sleep. Here are a few other things that you should know about hamsters living in the wild.

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Where Wild Hamsters Live

At least 18 species of hamsters can be found living in the wild. They live in a variety of different places, including China, Romania, Greece, Belgium, and most notably, Syria. Hamsters were imported into Northern America, where they became domesticated and welcomed as pets by households everywhere. You will not find wild hamsters in the United States because this animal was imported for domestication and was never released to propagate in the wild. These hamsters are known as the Syrian or Golden hamster. Hamsters still live in the wild today, but many species are considered endangered.

hamster in the grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

How Hamsters Live in the Wild

Wild hamsters live the same lifestyles as pet hamsters by sleeping during the day in burrows they make themselves and hoarding food whenever they possibly can. They prefer to live in dry, desert-like places. Some wild hamster species live in packs and enjoy each other’s company, while others prefer to live alone and will fight to the death with any other hamster that comes near their burrow or food supply.

Because they hide in burrows while sleeping during the day, they stay well protected from predators. However, many do succumb to predators at some point. They also may have a hard time finding food at certain times of the year. Therefore, wild hamsters tend to have shorter expected lifespans than domesticated hamsters.

What Wild Hamsters Eat

Hamsters are omnivores and will eat a variety of things that they find in the wild. Grasses and weeds make up most of a wild hamster’s diet. They also eat seeds wherever they can find them. Because they are omnivores, they will eat insects, bugs, lizards, and even frogs when the opportunity arises. However, their meat meals are few and far between. In general, wild hamsters are not picky and will hoard and eat whatever it is that they can get their paws and teeth on.

hamster in the wild
Image Credit: Pixabay

How Wild Hamsters Differ From Domestic Hamsters

The biggest difference between wild and domestic hamsters is their lifestyle. Wild hamsters fend for themselves, while domestic hamsters have all their needs taken care of for them. Wild hamsters are usually smaller than domestic ones simply because they do not have access to as much food and water. Also, domestic hamsters are open to being handled by humans much more than wild ones are. In fact, wild hamsters likely will not let a human even get close to them. When it comes to looks and nutrition requirements, though, there are not many differences, if any at all, between wild and domestic hamsters.

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Final Thoughts

There is not much known about wild hamsters other than where most of them live and that there are several different species of them. We do not even know exactly how many wild species are in existence today! We can study the habits of domestic hamsters to learn more about how wild hamsters may live wherever they happen to be. What do you think is the most interesting aspect of the wild hamster, and how do you think they most differ from our domestic hamster friends?

RELATED READ: How to Potty Train a Hamster (5 Quick Steps)


Featured Image Credit: Michal Pesata, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.