Science: Guinea Pig's Rival

Few laymen have ever heard of the golden hamster—but they are likely to hear of it from now on. Thousands of hamsters are being raised in U.S., British and Canadian laboratories. The furry, golden-brown, short-tailed rodent is a serious rival to the guinea pig.

Laboratoiy workers consider the hamster's laboratory qualifications practically ideal: it is even more susceptible to human diseases than the guinea pig. The gestation period is the shortest known for a mammal—15 days, 21 hours. It begins to mate by its 43rd day, bears its first litter at the age of two months. Thereafter, until the age of...