SHORT HAIR HAMSTER

Hamsters, Rabbits, and Rats Oh My

Hamsters

SHORT HAIR HAMSTERHamsters are mammals which belong to the rodent family having large incisor teeth that are continually growing necessitating gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. The word ‘rodent’ is derived from the latin word ‘rodere’ which means ‘to gnaw’.

Hamsters form the Family Cricetidae which is broken down into different Genera (including Cricetulus, Phodopus and Calomyscus) and then Species. There are many different species of hamsters throughout the world and most inhabit semi-desert areas where they live in burrows. These burrows consist of many tunnels and separate chambers to store food or sleep. Hamsters are nocturnal, sleeping during the hot days and waking in the cooler evenings. They have very poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing.

Most species of hamsters have expandablecheekpouches in which they can carry food and bedding back to their burrow where they will store food. The word ‘hamster’ comes froms the German word ‘hamstern’ which means ‘to hoard’.

Only a few species are widely kept as pets but the hamster is the most popular of the smaller rodents kept as a pet in many countries today.

Rabbits

Rabbits are mammals which belong to the Lagomorph order which also includes hares and pikas. They are similar to rodents in that they have incisor teeth that continually grow. They are herbivores (plant eating) and have a high reproduction rate.

Rabbits form the Family Leporidae under which are over 50 species. The species widely kept as a pet is Oryctolagus cuniculus and within this species are various breeds which have been developed to enhance different characteristics.

The rabbit has long ears, powerful hind legs with long feet and a short, furry, upturned tail.

Rats

RATS 2Rats are mammals which belong to the rodent family having large incisor teeth that are continually growing necessitating gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. The word ‘rodent’ is derived from the latin word ‘rodere’ which means ‘to gnaw’.

Rats form the Genus Rattus under the sub-family of Murinae. There are many different species of rats throughout the world and the rat domesticated and kept as a pet is the Brown Rat, also known as the sewer rat (Rattus norvegicus) and is often referred to as the Fancy Rat.

Rats are pack animals and this helps to ensure survival in the wild in many different environments.

Gerbils

Gerbils are mammals which belong to the rodent family having large incisor teeth that are continually growing necessitating gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. The word ‘rodent’ is derived from the latin word ‘rodere’ which means ‘to gnaw’.

Gerbils form the Family Gerbillinae which is broken down into different Genera and then Species. There are many different species of gerbils throughout the world and most inhabit semi-desert areas where they live in burrows.

Only a few species are widely kept as pets but the gerbil is a popular small pet kept in many countries today.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are mammals which belong to the rodent family having large incisor teeth that are continually growing necessitating gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. The word ‘rodent’ is derived from the latin word ‘rodere’ which means ‘to gnaw’.

Guinea Pigs form the Family Caviidae which is broken down into different Genera and then Species. There are 8 species of guinea pigs but only one is widely kept as a pet.

The guinea pig has a compact body and no tail and is native to South America where it lives in burrows in mountain and grassland areas.