Hamsters are rodents (order Rodentia) belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains about 25 species classified in six or seven genera. They have become established as popular small house pets, but, because they are easy to breed in captivity, hamsters are also often used as laboratory animals. Hamsters are more crepuscular than nocturnal and, in the wild, remain underground during the day to avoid being caught by predators. They feed primarily on seeds, fruits, and vegetation, and will occasionally eat burrowing insects. As one of their more prominent characteristics, they have elongated cheek pouches extending to their shoulders, which they use to carry food back to their burrows.
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