A photo of a fat, furry hamster sitting on a bed of pillows chowing down on some grain with a hookah in the background may seem like an inappropriate usage of one of the last remaining pages of an issue dedicated to Syria. But we want to make it clear that this ancient culture isn’t all guns and explosions and death and crackdowns by the secret police—there’s cute to be found, if you look hard enough. Syrian hamsters, also known as golden hamsters, are native to Syria (duh) and were first discovered in 1830 by British zoologist George Robert Waterhouse. These furry bags of joy love desert climates and stuffing as much food into their cheek pouches as possible—in fact, their Arabic name roughly translates as “Mr. Saddlebags.” Not joking. But don’t let their overwhelming cuteness fool you: These guys are extremely territorial and frequently get into scraps with neighboring hamsters or even other family members. And if baby hammies happen to come into contact with humans, their mother will kill and eat them since any unfamiliar scent is considered a threat. Even the smallest of creatures DO NOT fuck around over there. Damn, and this was supposed to be the cute part of the issue.
Considering the current hostile environment, we thought it best not to travel to the Syrian desert to find a hamster to rub against our faces, but you can buy them at basically any pet store. To see some other cute animals we were actually able to hang with, check out episodes of The Cute Show!