The Syrian hamster is a popular pet due to its small size and adorable features. However, many people are unaware of the various coat colors and patterns that exist in this breed. While some of these traits may seem desirable, they can actually be harmful to the hamster’s health due to years of selective breeding.
In this article, we will explore the different Syrian hamster colors and discuss which ones to avoid to prevent health issues.
What Does a Syrian Hamster Look Like?
Syrian Hamsters are large species of hamsters with stout and plump bodies. It has a short and stubby tail nearly hidden beneath its fur. Its dark eyes are small, clear, and glassy.
Attached to the Syrian hamster’s short, broad head are tiny tulip-shaped ears. Its paws are slender, whilst its limbs are stubby with wide feet.
When full-grown, this popular Hamster variety can grow up to 5 or 7 inches (13 or 18 centimetres) in length. It can weigh between 4 and 8 ounces. Females tend to be larger than males.
Syrian Hamster Coat Types
The coat types of Syrian pet hamsters have 2 categories: hair length and texture.
Let us take a look at the different variations belonging to these classifications and the distinctive features they give to these rodents:
2 Types of Syrian Hamster Hair Length
- Short-Haired Syrian HammiesTheir coat length closely takes after wild Syrian hamsters. It is short and easy to clean.
- Long-Haired Syrian HammiesThey are a result of acquiring 2 recessive long-hair genes. The length of their hair depends on the amount of testosterone their body produces.
Compared to the short-haired ones, long-haired Syrians have a slightly longer coat with tufts of hair sticking behind their ears, on the hips, and around the hindquarters.
Because of their fluffy, long hair, long-haired hamsters are referred to as teddy bear hamsters. Brushing their coats regularly is important to prevent tangles and mats.
2 Types of Syrian Hamster Hair Texture
- Satin Syrian Hammies
This hair texture is characterised by thin satin-like glossy hair. For Syrian hammies to have this trait, they only need to inherit one dominant satin gene.
Breeding 2 Syrian pet hamsters with the said gene is not recommended. Otherwise, they will produce offspring with very sparse fur.
- Rex Syrian HammiesThey are born with dense and soft curly or wavy coats. Some Rex Syrian pet hamsters do not display this characteristic.
However, you can tell them apart from their satin counterparts through their crimped or wavy whiskers.
Inheriting 2 copies of the recessive rex gene produces this type of coat texture.
Mating 2 Rex Syrian hammies should be avoided as congenital eye problems will become prevalent in their litter.
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16 Syrian Hamster Colours
Syrian hamsters in the wild are originally golden brown with cream or white-coloured undersides. For this reason, they are also known as golden hamsters.
Through years of selective breeding, many colour variations are introduced to pet Syrian hamsters. Here are some of the Syrian hamster colours you might come across:
Syrian Hamster Colour #1: Beige
Beige Syrian hamsters’ coats are light grey with a brownish undertone. Their fur has dark brown ticking, whilst their bellies are ivory-coloured. They have dark beige ears.
It is a bad idea to let 2 beige Syrians mate due to the risks of birthing sickly pups. A deformity called kink tail may also occur in some offspring, which can lead to serious spine problems.
Syrian Hamster Colour #2: Black
Also known as black bears, Syrian hammies with this coat colour are entirely black except for their pink feet. They have black ears and eyes too. Black Syrians slowly turn dark brown as they grow older.
Any black hamsters with white colourations on their chin and bellies are considered unsuitable for showing.
Syrian Hamster Colour #3: Black-Eyed Cream (BEC)
The coats of black-eyed creams are a deep rich cream colour to their ends. The colouration of their fur gradually turns into apricot or peach as they grow older.
Syrian Hamster Colour #4: Blonde
Blonde Syrians have creamy light tan fur with an orange-tinged muzzle. Their bellies come in an ivory colour, whilst their back fur tends to have light grey roots with a bit of cinnamon. Some blonde Syrian hammies are born with red eyes.
Syrian Hamster Colour #5: Brown
Syrian hammies possessing 2 recessive brown genes will develop a light brown coat. Some of them have lighter patches of fur on top of their base coat.
Syrian Hamster Colour #6: Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a genetic mutation that causes Syrian hamsters to develop a grey base coat topped with rich russet orange fur. They are typically red-eyed rodents with flesh-brown ears.
Syrian Hamster Colour #7: Chocolate
Chocolate hamsters are a mix of rust and black colour. Their fur is dark brown to the roots with streaks of cinnamon or rust.
Syrian Hamster Colour #8: Cream
Cream Syrians have light apricot coats, which comparably have the same shade as milk tea. They have black eyes and dark grey ear colour.
Syrian Hamster Colour #9: Dove
Dove Syrian pups are created by mating black and cinnamon Syrians. Their fur can either be dove grey or brown with a lilac undertone. They commonly have red eyes and fleshy grey ears.
Syrian Hamster Colour #10: Golden
Gold is the classic and most dominant colour in Syrian pet hamsters. Hammies possessing this coat colour are called goldens.
They have golden brown fur adorned with black cheek markings. Their base colour is slate grey and their bellies are covered with ivory hair.
Syrian Hamster Colour #11: Grey
Grey Syrian pet hamsters come in varying shades of dark, light, and silver. The genes causing these colours are very dominant. It can overpower other colour variations except for golden.
Be warned that many dark grey hamsters are predisposed to having kink tails. Although many of them do not develop health issues, avoid using them for breeding.
Syrian hamster owners must be cautious when breeding light grey gene carriers. Around 25% of light grey pups die in their mother’s womb.
Syrian Hamster Colour #12: Lilac
There are 2 varieties of this colour, namely lilac and lilac pearl. Syrians with plain lilac coats have soft pale grey fur with a pink undertone. In comparison, Lilac pearly Syrian hamsters have pale lilac grey coats with black tips.
Lilac hamsters are offspring of cinnamon and dark grey hammies. They are in danger of inheriting kink tails from their dark grey parents.
Syrian Hamster Colour #13: Mink
Syrian hamsters with mink coats have a cream undercoat with dull, dusky brown tips. As they slowly reach old age, their fur turns an orangey brown. Mink Syrians usually have red eyes.
Syrian Hamster Colour #14: Red-Eyed Cream (REC):
Red-eyed creams have a deep rich pinkish cream coat. Similar to black-eyed cream Syrians, their fur colour grows darker as they age. They often have pink ears and red eyes.
Syrian Hamster Colour #15: Sable
Sables have cream undercoats and distinctive cream eye rings. Their top coat is dark brown similar to the colour of black coffee. They have black eyes and dark grey ears.
As sables mature, their dark brown coats slowly fade and develop orangey undertones.
Syrian Hamster Colour #16: White
White Syrians have three variations: black-eyed, dark-eared, and flesh-eared. Let us have a quick run-through of their differences:
- Black-Eyed: solid white fur, black eyes, dark grey ears
- Dark-Eared: solid white fur, red eyes (darkens with age), dark grey
- Flesh-Eared: solid white fur, pink eyes, flesh-coloured ears
White hamsters should not be bred with carriers of the white belly gene. Or else their pups will have deformed eyes.
6 Syrian Hamster Patterns
Apart from their coat colour, Syrian hamsters also come in a wide range of coat patterns, including:
The coat of banded hamsters has a noticeable single band running horizontally in the middle of their belly. Its width is approximately ⅓ of the Syrian hammies’ body length.
2. Dominant Spot
Syrians with dominant spot patterns have random-coloured splotches on their white fur. Some of the most common blotches of colours you will see are black, cinnamon, yellow, and golden.
Dominant-spotted Syrian hammies have a blaze of white fur running through the middle of their faces.
Do not allow mating between 2 dominant-spotted hamsters since there is a 25% chance of pups dying in the womb.
3. Recessive Dappled
Syrian hamsters with this coat pattern are entirely covered in white fur except for their head and rump. These areas usually have splotches of another colour, with brown being the most common.
Roans are hamsters with cream base coats ticked with coloured fur. The ticking is more concentrated on their head.
Roan Syrians are carriers of the white belly gene. Never allow 2 of these hammies to mate with each other to avoid stillborn pups and eyeless offspring.
Tortoishells are hamsters with random coat patterns of 2 colours. They have patches of yellow in their base colour.
Since the tortoiseshell gene is sex-linked, only female hamsters can develop this type of coat pattern.
6. Tortoiseshell & White
They develop the same coat pattern as the tortoiseshell but have a white belly. Moreover, a white band is present on their fur.
Similar to the tortoiseshell, the genes causing this pattern only occur in female hamsters.
FAQs About Syrian Hamster Colours and Patterns
1. Do Male and Female Syrian Hamsters Differ in Colour?
No. In most cases, male and female Syrian hamsters do not differ in colour. Coat colour should not be the basis when sexing hamsters. Identifying your pet hammy’s sex requires thoroughly inspecting its flank glands and genitals.
2. Do Syrian Hamsters Change Colour?
Yes, Syrian hamsters’ coats’ can slightly change colour. It is typically brought on by old age, but seasonal changes can also be a factor.
The fading of coat colour accompanied by excessive hair loss and bald patches requires vet attention. This could be caused by an underlying disease.
3. Do Syrian Hamsters Have Different Eye Colours?
Yes, Syrian hamsters can have different eye colours. Depending on their coat colour, they may own black, red, or in rare cases, heterochromatic eyes.
4. What Is the Rarest Colour of Syrian Hamsters?
Beige and white are some of the rarest Syrian hamster colours. Both colours are brought on by recessive genes, which are hard to come by.
5. What Colours Are Golden Syrian Hamsters?
Golden or teddy bear hamsters can come in other colour variations apart from golden brown. As you have read, their colours range from white and black to brown and lilac.
While Syrian hamsters’ colorful coats are fascinating, it’s important to be aware of the associated health risks. Breeders must avoid certain coat types to prevent congenital deformities. Check out our article on How to Breed Hamsters for more tips on safe breeding practices.