You have decided to get a hamster. That’s great! Hamsters are lovely pets that require minimum care, but which type of hamster is right for you? There are 19 species of hamsters but 5 of them are most common as pets.
Syrian or Golden hamsters- the most popular choice for a pet hamster. Solitary cuties that are very territorial but easy to tame, are also called Teddy bears
Dwarf Hamsters – smaller in size comparing to Syrians, tolerate the company of the same species. They are fast and very active, harder to handle than Teddy bears. There are three groups of Dwarf hamsters: Campbell’s, Winter white Russian, and Roborovski.
Chinese – are somewhere in the middle between Syrians and Dwarf. They are similar in size to Dwarf hamsters but less sociable. They are quite friendly but very fast and full of energy. In many cases, you will notice that the Chinese are considered as a member of the Dwarf family.
Every type of hamster has its own characteristics based on which you can find the one that is right for you. Keep reading this text and discover more about different hamster breeds.
Syrian or Golden hamsters
The most common breed kept as pets. Syrian hamsters are the largest type. Adults grow to 5-7 inches long which almost double compared to other hamster types.
Syrian hamsters are solitary animals. They do not like the company of other hamsters so you should never place Syrian hamsters with any other hamster in the same cage.
It is said that Golden hamsters are very curious creatures who like to explore but they also need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy.
Provide your furry friend bunch of toys as Syrians like to be kept busy. The suitable toys are hamster wheel ( avoid this toy if you have long-haired Syrian) cardboard tubes and boxes, as well as plastic and ceramic houses and hideouts especially made for hamsters
Although Syrian hamsters will not tolerate another hamster in its vicinity, your little furry friend will enjoy your company. These hamsters are pretty friendly, usually very obedient, and easy to tame.
These are 100% nocturnal animals which make them unsuitable pet for small kids are going to bed early.
Syrian hamsters have poor eyesight that is why they rely more on other senses. Having that in mind together with the fact that hamsters are prey animals you understand why loud noise, sudden movements, and touch can scare them and provoke them to bite.
Like all hamsters, Syrians also have the habit of holding the food in their cheeks pouches. This is possible due to the absence of salivary glands. Hamsters will take the food, store it in their cheeks and eat it later. Typical hoarder conduct.
Syrian hamsters have a strong and chunky body with a small tail, short legs but wide feet. They have large eyes but small ears covered with fur.
The usual fur color of the Syrian hamster is golden brown with a lighter colored belly. Dark markings can appear on their cheeks, all the way from the jaws to the ears.
The topic about Syrian hamsters is much wider so if you would like to discover more about these beautiful creatures do read our article dedicated only to them All about Syrian ( Golden Hamsters) Hamsters- Origin, Behaviour, Health Problems, Coat Types and Patterns.
These small furry balls can be 2-5 inches long. They are much smaller than Syrian cousins but much faster. This is the reason why Dwarf hamsters are harder to handle and are not suitable for kids.
Unlike Syrians, Dwarf hamsters like the company of the same kind. You can keep the pair or even a group of the same sex. Avoid keeping boys and girls together as you will have tons of unwanted babies. Of course, if you want to breed your hamster, this is totally different story but if your two or three furry balls are quite enough for you then keep either males or females.
Bear in mind that hamsters should be introduced to one another in the early baby period. It is not recommended to introduce a new hamster to an adult hamster, never do that.
Although Dwarfs are socials, don’t think you can take your Robo ( for example) to your friend’s house so he can play with her hamster. This is not recommended. Dwarf hamsters tolerate the company of other hamsters of the same kind but only if they are cage mates.
In some moments it can happen that hamsters which were getting along well, simply cannot live together anymore. As hamsters cannot tell you what is the problem, it is important that you know to read the signs.
If you notice your hammy is chasing around the cage constantly, afraid to come out of his burrow and eat while his cage mate is eating. If you spot weight loss or your hammy is jumping every time you touch him, consider separation. Of course these signs could be indicators of some disease as well
Just like Syrians, Dwarfs like to play, to run a lot, to climb (especially Chinese hamsters, great climbers)so put plenty of different toys to the cage. Many Dwarf hamsters like to have their own toys, so if you have several Campbell’s hamsters and you have bought a new toy, get the same for each of your furry pals.
Habitat is very important, as hamsters spend most of their time inside of the cage. If you need more information about cages and cage setups do read our articles ”The Best Cage for Your Hamster” and ”What does My Hamster Need in its Cage?”
Taking hamster’s size into consideration, wire cages are better for Syrians and plastic or glass aquarium are more suitable for Dwarf hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are simply too small and can squeeze easily between the bars.
Don’t be fooled by the size of Dwarf hamsters, the bigger the cage, the better. They need a lot of space for several reasons. They are really active and like to run. If you have two or hamsters remember that each of them needs its own space. So get the largest cage possible!
Dwarf hamsters usually have small, oval, round body, small, stocky legs, wide feet. The exception are Chinese, of course as they are, comparing to other Dwarfs, thinner and longer. Chinese tail is also longer, that is why he is good at climbing.
Note that Chinese hamsters are not legal in all US states. For example in California and Hawaii ( all hamster breeds are illegal in Hawaii) is considered a pest and it is forbidden to keep Chinese hamsters as pets. In some states like Oregon or New Jersey, it is not illegal but you need to get some permission in order to keep him as a pet.
Although hamsters are flexible in general, they have fragile bones so you need to handle them with extra care. They are very sensitive to high – pitched noise. All of them have poor eyesight but have very strong senses of hearing and smell ( especially Campbell’s, they have a heightened sense of smell)
Whichever breed you pick, you will not make a mistake. These cute furry balls are quiet and easy to handle. They do not require much care but some basic rules need to be followed just to make sure you are treating them properly. If you prefer one animal, take Syrian or if a bunch of hammies, running around and playing makes you happy, then go for Dwarfs. If you have kids adopt one Syrian but still be careful and don’t let your child play with your hamster unsupervised.