ALBINO Hamster that is completely white in appearance due to a lack of pigmentation. The eyes are opaque but appear to be pink because blood behind the eye can be seen.
AGOUTI The natural or wild color, sometimes referred to as “normal.”
ANGORA A long haired Syrian, normally one with exceptionally long hair beginning at the nape of the neck all the way to the tail.
OPHTHALMIC An all white animal with no eyes, may also be referred to as an “Eyeless White”.
BRINDLING The appearance of striping on the fur.
BURROW A hole or tunnel dug in the ground by a small animal, such as a hamster, rabbit or mole, for habitation or refuge.
CANNIBALISM The act of one hamster killing and eating another. Typically this occurs with mothers and their newborn pups. The reason can be to protect the other pups in the litter from starvation or dehydration if there are too many pups for the mother to actively take care of, it may also occur if the pup is handled by a human or other non-hamster creature before the pup matures.
CARBOHYDRATES Any of a group of organic compounds that provides energy to an animal, carbohydrates include sugars, starches, cellulose, and gums.
CHEEK POUCHES The pouches located on each side of the hamster’s head that are used for carrying food, bedding, etc. Some females may even carry their pups around in their pouches. Unlike human cheeks, a hamster’s pouch is dry.
CHROMOSOME A thread-like body inside a cell, which carries the genes of an animal
COLONY A group of hamsters that lives together. Colonies consist of one male and several females or several of the same sex. (Not recommended living conditions for hamsters in captivity.)
CREPUSCULAR An animal that is active between dusk and dawn.
CULLING The elimination of pups in large litters. This is best left to the mother of the litter, who will cull as required, beginning with the weakest pup.
DAM The mother of a litter.
DOMINANT GENE A gene that always shows itself in the phenotype of a hamster. In genetics, these genes are denoted with a Capital letter.
ECTOPARASITES Fleas, lice, ticks, etc. Parasites that live on the outside of an animal’s body.
ENDOPARASITES Parasites that live within an animal, usually within the intestines such as Pinworms.
GENEA hereditary unit consisting of a sequence of
DNA that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines an individual characteristic in an organism. Genes undergo mutation if their DNA sequence changes.
GENETICS The study of the characteristics and colors that are passed from one generation of organisms to the next.
GENOTYPE The genetic make-up of a hamster.
GENUS A group of animals containing species that are closely related.
GERM CELL The germ, egg, or cell from which an animal arises. At one time a part of the body of the parent, it finally becomes detached, and through a process of multiplication and growth, gives rise to a mass of cells, which ultimately form a new individual like the parent.
GESTATION The time between conception and birth.
GOLDEN Term used to describe a coat color in hamsters. Also, the original color of the Syrian hamster.
HAMSTER A small Eurasian rodent of the subfamily Cricetinae, especially Mesocricetus auratus, having large cheek pouches and a short tail and often kept as a pet or used in laboratory research.
HEAT The periodic state of sexual excitement in the female of most mammals, excluding humans, that immediately precedes ovulation and during which the female is most receptive to mating. Also known as oestrus.
HEAT STROKE see Sleeper Disease.
HIBERNATION State of being in which the animal lies in a near comatose state for the duration of the winter.
HIP SPOTS Glands found on a hamsters’ hips. It is easier to see on the male, who uses these glands to mark his territory.
HYBRID A cross-bred hamster. Sometimes this term may refer to the mating of two completely unrelated hamsters.
INBREEDING The breeding of two animals closely related in blood.
INCISORS A hamster’s front teeth, which grow continuously.
LINE A family of hamsters which have been bred for several generations.
LINE-BREEDING Breeding within a line that is not as closely related as inbreeding
LITTER All of the pups produced in a single birth.
LOCUS The position on a chromosome that is occupied by a specific gene.
LONGEVITY The life span of a hamster.
MEALWORM The larvae of a meal beetle. For hamsters this is a tasty treat.
MONOHYBRID INHERITANCE The inheritance of a single gene.
MUTATION A changed gene resulting in the change of the animal. The end result is called a mutant or mutated animal.
NAGGING Continual gnawing at the bars of a cage.
NOCTURNAL Refers to an animal that is active at night and sleeps during the day. Hamsters are more accurately defined as crepuscular.
NORMAL Refers to the agouti or wild color.
OESTRUS Period of time when a female hamster will accept mating.
OESTRUS CYCLE The cycle of a female hamster (4 days in length).
OVERSHOT When the upper incisors overlap the bottom of the jaw
PARASITE An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host (fleas, mites, ticks, and various worms are examples).
PHENOTYPE The physical appearance of a hamster.
PREGNANCY see Gestation
PUPA baby hamster.
RACHITIS see Rickets.
RECESSIVE Refers to a gene that is masked unless there are two of the same gene present. In genetics these genes are denoted with lower case letters.
RICKETS A deficiency disease resulting from a lack of vitamin D or calcium and from insufficient exposure to sunlight, characterized by defective bone growth. Also called Rachitis.
RODENT Any of various mammals of the order Rodentia which have two pairs of continuously growing and self-sharpening teeth.
SCURVY A disease caused by deficiency of vitamin C, characterized by spongy and bleeding gums, bleeding under the skin, and extreme weakness.
SEX CHROMOSOMES Chromosomes that determine the sex of an animal. Males have one X chromosome and one Y. Females have two X chromosomes. Other chromosomes are called autosomes.
SEX-LINKED INHERITANCE A characteristic in which the mutant allel is carried on the sex chromosome and is governed by the sex of the animal such as the yellow color gene in Syrians.
SIBLING A blood relative that comes from the same set of parents.
SIRE The father of a litter.
SLEEPER DISEASE An effect of extreme heat. If left untreated, the hamster could die. Also called Heat Stroke.
SPLIT Term used to describe a hamster whose parents were of different varieties or colorsSPORTA hamster that is genetically different from the norm.
STAND The position of a female in heat.
STEPPE A vast semiarid grass-covered plain, as found in southeast Europe, Siberia, and central North America.
VARIETY A specific color and coat.
WEAN To accustom a pup to take nourishment other than by suckling its mother.
WET TAIL Very contagious and often fatal disease. Chronic diarrhea.