Skip to main content
Select Source:

hamster

hamster, Old World rodent, related to the voles, lemmings, and New World mice. There are many hamster species, classified in several genera. All are solitary, burrowing, nocturnal animals, with chunky bodies, short tails, soft, thick fur, and large external cheek pouches used for holding food. Some of the larger species have scent glands on the flanks; the scent is used for territorial marking. Hamsters feed on grain and other plant matter and are serious agricultural pests in many parts of their range. The common, or European, hamster, Cricetus cricetus, of the temperate parts of Europe and W Asia, is reddish brown with black underparts and white patches on the nose, cheeks, throat and flanks. It is about 12 in. (30 cm) long, with a very short tail. It stores grain in its chambered burrow for use in winter during interruptions of hibernation. The Syrian, or golden, hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, of E Europe and W Asia, is familiar as a laboratory animal and pet, but is little known in the wild state; all of the domestic stock is descended from a single group captured in 1930. About 6 in. (15 cm) long, it is lighter colored than the common hamster, with white underparts. Rat-tailed, or Eurasian, hamsters (C. cricetulus) are widely distributed through Europe and Asia; these somewhat longer-tailed forms are quite fierce, preying on other rodents as well as on lizards and small birds, although their diet is mostly vegetarian. Other hamsters are found in Europe and Asia, and species of the hamster genus Mystromys, called white-tailed rats, are found in Africa. Hamsters are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Cricetidae. See mouse.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hamster

"hamster." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hamster

hamster

ham·ster / ˈhamstər/ • n. a solitary burrowing rodent (subfamily Cricetinae, family Muridae) with a short tail and large cheek pouches for carrying food, native to Europe and northern Asia. Its several species include the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), often kept as a pet or laboratory animal, and the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster-0

"hamster." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster-0

hamster

hamster Small, mainly nocturnal, burrowing rodent native to Eurasia and Africa. It has internal cheek pouches for carrying food. The golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) is a domestic pet and all are descended from one female captured in Syria in 1930. Length: up to 18cm (7in). Family Cricetidae; species Cricetus mesocricetus.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hamster

"hamster." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hamster

hamster

hamster XVII. — G. :- OHG. hamustro = OS. hamustra, corn-weevil, rel. to OSl. khoměstorǔ.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster-1

"hamster." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster-1

hamster

hamster See CRICETIDAE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster

"hamster." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster

hamster

hamsterattar, batter, bespatter, chatter, clatter, flatter, hatter, Kenyatta, latter, matamata, matter, natter, patter, platter, ratter, regatta, satyr, scatter, shatter, smatter, spatter, splatter, yatter •abstractor, actor, attractor, compactor, contractor, enactor, exactor, extractor, factor, infractor, protractor, redactor, refractor, tractor, transactor •Atlanta, banter, canter, infanta, levanter, manta, ranter, Santa, tam-o'-shanter •adaptor, captor, chapter, raptor •Antofagasta, aster, Astor, canasta, Jocasta, oleaster, pasta, piastre (US piaster), pilaster, poetaster, Rasta, Zoroasterdragster, gagster •Baxter • prankster • hamster •gangsta, gangster •malefactor • benefactor •pitter-patter • subcontractor •chiropractor

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hamster." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"hamster." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster

"hamster." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hamster