If you’re looking for ways to celebrate your furry little friend, then World Hamster Day is it! We all know hamsters for being able to fit a three-course meal and more in their fluffy little cheeks, but did you know there was a whole day dedicated to them? Well, now you do! Although you can celebrate your buddy any time of the year, maybe for World Hamster Day you can get them an extra carrot and a mini party hat?
Learn about the stars of World Hamster Day
There are 24 different species of hamster worldwide, and they come in a range of sizes too. Can you imagine a hamster 34 centimeters long? Well, that’s how large the biggest species, the European hamster, can grow! Generally speaking, however, they’re pretty small animals – short, stumpy and extra cuddly, with the long-haired variant even referred to as ‘Teddy Bear’.
“Hamster,” from the German word “hamstern,” means “hoard,” which is exactly what our lovely little rodent friends do. Their cheek pouches are used for storing and carrying food, which they then hide away in their burrows. Sometimes, however, they do have eyes too big for their stomachs (or rather cheeks), with their pouches expanding in size so much that they’re unable to squeeze through the entrance of their hamster house or tunnel!
They’re crepuscular (meaning most active at dawn and dusk) and by and large solitary creatures, although they are prolific breeders. Hamsters are also very curious animals and so any cages for pet hamsters need to be robust and escape-proof!
History of World Hamster Day
It’s estimated that hamsters have been around for at least 15 million years, but they weren’t domesticated until the 20th century. This exciting development started when the zoologist Israel Aharoni went on an expedition to look for Syrian hamsters in a cornfield on April 12th, 1930. The 13 captured critters were then bred to produce the first domesticated hamsters, with the entire population of pet Syrian hamsters (also known as golden hamsters) actually descendants of this original group.
Pet hamsters quickly spread to places such as the US and UK, although they remain in the wild in various European and Asian countries like China, Belgium and Greece. Sadly, the wild version of the Syrian hamster is now considered an endangered species.
These days the most popular type of household hamster is the Syrian variant, with dwarf hamsters also very common. Like their fellow rodents, they are widely used in laboratories as test subjects in the study of various diseases and medical conditions such as lung cancer, gallstones and pulmonary fibrosis.
No wonder these wonderful animals deserve a day of celebration!
Hamsters in popular culture
An early instance of these beloved pets in popular culture was the Hamster Dance, an internet meme that emerged in the late 1990s. Featuring an accelerated version of the ‘Whistle-Stop’ song from Disney’s Robin Hood, the meme sees a whole host of hamsters dancing along to the catchy beat. A full-length single of ‘The Hampsterdance Song’ even topped the Canadian charts in 2000.
In 2001, a rather unusual sport, hamster racing, was started by UK betting agencies to replace horse racing events that had been cancelled due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and the sport is still popular today! Like a miniature Formula 1 event, the plucky participants race down a course in their hamster balls, which are often enhanced to allow for greater speed. Onlookers cheer on their preferred victor and can also place bets.
There have also been various movies featuring these furry friends. The Nutty Professor sees an ingenious scientist’s weight-loss experiment on a hamster backfire, instead creating a giant hamster that goes on a rampage! Bolt is another great film featuring Rhino, a hamster in a ball, as one of the lead characters, who, along with a feral cat, helps the deluded dog Bolt with a misguided rescue mission. Watching this inspiring trio go an adventure and become best friends is a surefire way to fall in love with hamsters.
How to celebrate World Hamster Day
Now you know all about World Hamster Day, you might be wondering how best to celebrate it. If you have a pet hamster, then there are plenty of ways you can show them some extra love…
Create a delicious salad treat for your buddy (and yourself!), using some or all of the following ingredients:
- Sunflower seeds
- Apple slices
Remember to make sure everything is cut up nice and small so that your hamster friend can enjoy the salad properly. Place everything in a bowl, and try to layer different vegetables and fruits up so that there are different textures and flavors for your hammy to find.
Up the ante on the enrichments by adding new fun toys to their enclosure. Hamsters love to play and get excited about seeing new things in their environment, so splash out on a natural hamster toy to celebrate with them in style.
Exercise wheels are popular in-cage favorites, while hamster balls allow these fun-loving animals to roam around the house in safety. In the wild, hamsters can travel up to 10km per day, so it’s important that they regularly get a healthy dose of exercise. To spice things up, you could even build a maze or obstacle course for them to explore!
Why not have a whole photoshoot with your little hamster buddy? If you have a camera, then grab a macro lens and start taking some close-up photos to perfectly capture all their cuteness. It’s important that you don’t use the flash, and you might have to set the alarm and be ready to take photos while your crepuscular friend is awake in the early hours.
See if there are any events taking place in your local area – hamster shows are popular gatherings in which owners can exhibit their hamsters and attendees can meet like-minded hamster lovers. And after some fun and games, why not crash out on the couch and watch a hamster movie? You could also put on a documentary to learn more about these cuddly creatures. The perfect way to wrap up World Hamster Day!