Hamsters are desert-dwelling rodents who have become popular pets.

Wild hamsters gather their food (seeds and grains) in deserts, grasslands and croplands, using their chubby cheek pouches to carry home what they find and store it in burrows. Pet hamsters need more than a clean cage, food and water—like pet gerbils, they should be given plenty of litter to dig in, tubes to crawl through, soft paper or cardboard to chew up for nests, a wheel to run on and daily supervised play time outside their cages.

pet hamster looking at the camera with soulful eyes
As cute as they are, more than 150,000 hamsters a year are sadly bred to be used for cosmetics tests and biomedical research.

Most hamsters kept as pets in the United States are the descendants of a family of Syrian (golden) hamsters—one of 26 species found in the Middle East, Europe and Asia—captured in the wild in 1930 by an expedition looking for animals to breed for labs. Just like pet hamsters today, the first captive animals chewed through boxes and slipped through cracks: Five of 10 babies escaped.

A pet hamster chews on a small nut
Yajie Wang-Campagne
Did you know?

Because their incisor teeth never stop growing, hamsters require hard biscuits or wood chews to gnaw on.

White rabbit in a metal cage

Please contact your legislators and urge them to support the reintroduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act to prohibit animal testing for cosmetics manufactured or sold in the U.S.

unoL / iStock.com