Of all the cute, pouchy-cheeked hamsters out there, the most popular tends to be the Syrian hamster. Syrian hamsters come in a wide array of colors and are bred in shorthaired, longhaired, satin and rex coats. The longhaired Syrian hamster is also known as a teddy bear hamster and is a very popular pet.
Angora or Teddy Bear?
When it comes to the teddy bear hamster, the term "angora" is used to describe coat length, rather than a particular species of Syrian hamster. The term "angora" is more often used in reference to rabbits. Angora rabbits are known for their long, exceedingly soft fur, which can be spun into fuzzy sweaters. Angora wool also has thermal qualities. There are several species of animals with angora fur, including cats and ferrets.
The Teddy Bear
Shorthaired Syrian hamsters are called "fancy" hamsters, while the longhaired hamsters are called "teddy bear" hamsters. Teddy bear hamsters are particularly popular pocket pets due to their adorable, fluffy "teddy bear" appearance. They are also gentle hamsters and can make good pets when hand-tamed. Teddy bear hamsters are very solitary and should always be housed alone -- never in pairs. A teddy bear hamster has a lifespan of up to two years.
Males in Skirts
While all teddy bear hamsters have long coats, only the male hamster has dense fur around his neck. Male teddy bear hamsters also have a long mane of fur called a skirt, parting along the back and flowing down toward the tail. This long skirt is often described as an angora coat, but it's more correct to refer to male teddy bear hamsters as longhaired. Female teddy bear hamsters also have long, fluffy fur, but their coats are shorter than a male's.
Care of Longhaired Hamsters
Your longhaired hamster shouldn't need too much extra care for his long coat. Inspect him daily to make sure his fur isn't matted with bedding or fecal matter. You may brush him gently to help maintain his coat, but be sure not to brush him too much or you'll cause his fur to become fragile and break. You can buy special dusting powder at the pet store to help absorb oils and keep his coat fluffy and soft.
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Alissa McElreath is a writer and educator based in Raleigh, N.C. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Binghamton and an M.A. in English literature from the University of Rochester. McElreath's work has been published in "Literary Mama" magazine, on the Family Education Network website and in the anthology "Mama, Ph.D.," published by Rutgers University Press.