Yes, there are wild hamsters! In fact, there are over 20 species of hamsters, and only a small number of those are the domesticated breeds we keep as pets. The vast majority of hamster species live in the wild.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Wild hamsters: Around 15-18 species (depending on how taxonomists classify them) live in wild habitats across Europe and parts of western Asia. These wild hamsters are typically smaller than their domesticated cousins and have shorter lifespans. They are also generally solitary creatures, whereas pet hamsters can be social depending on the species.
  • Domesticated hamsters: Only about 5 species of hamsters have been domesticated for the pet trade. The most common pet hamster species is the Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), also known as the golden hamster. These are the hamsters most people think of when they hear the word “hamster.”

While some wild hamster species might seem like cute and cuddly potential pets, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals with different needs and behaviors compared to domesticated breeds. They can also carry diseases that can be harmful to humans. So, while appreciating wild hamsters in their natural habitat, it’s best to stick to domesticated breeds if you’re looking for a furry friend.