Hamsters are adorable and cute, and they make great pets for animal lovers. Before you buy a hamster, however, you have to identify which breed to buy.
Some hamsters can tolerate each other while others cannot even stand the company of their own. The animals also have various coat colors, from brown, golden, black, and white.
The various hamster breeds are discussed below:
1. Syrian Golden Hamster
The Syrian hamster ranks as the most common hamster breed as they make excellent companions. They are regarded as being easy to tame and maintain, and they are popularly given to kids as gifts.
The hamster was first discovered in Syria in 1839 by George Robert Waterhouse, a British zoologist. It was not until 1930 that a mother and her pups were captured in Aleppo, Syria, and bred in a Jerusalem lab. The first group of hamsters in the US arrived in 1971.
Wild hamsters have golden coats, but hobbyists have bred them to produce different colors. You can get Syrian hamster with beige, white, cream, black coats.
The animals also have varying fur patterns, depending on where you get yours.
Adult Syrian hamsters often reach six inches, and you should invest in a large cage to house them comfortably. Their cage should have a floor space of over 450 square inches.
Although Syrian hamsters have a reputation for being sociable, they are intolerant of other hamsters.
You should respect their solitary nature by housing them singly. Syrian hamsters have been known to fight and even kill each other. Do not keep siblings together past the 5-week mark.
Syrian hamsters are docile towards humans, as long as they are not stressed. Spend some time taming your hamster every day and provide toys for stimulation.
2. European Hamsters
The European hamster is the largest hamster species as males grow up to 32 cm in length. Wild European hamsters occupy an extensive range in Eurasia, where they inhabit riverbanks, steppes, and lowlands.
The hamster is currently endangered due to extensive agricultural practices and urbanization of its native lands.
Any attempts to tame European hamsters as pets have failed because of their aggressive nature. Wild European hamsters lead a solitary life, except during mating.
They design elaborate burrows that include storage, nesting, hibernating, and food chambers, and males and females have separate territories.
The hamster’s cheek pouches are large enough to hold up to 30 grams of food, and they can fill their food chambers with 3 kg of food.
These storage chambers are especially essential during hibernation, which lasts from October to March in the wild.
The European hamsters can dig tunnels as deep as 2 meters during winter that are sealed before hibernating. The animal will wake every 4-7 hours to feed.
The European hamster is also a better swimmer than other hamsters, and it takes in air into its cheek pouches for buoyancy. European hamsters hunt birds, mice, and reptiles to supplement grains, roots, and lentils.
3. Djungarian Hamster
Wild populations of the Djungarian hamster inhabit Dzungaria, Kazakhstan, as well as Siberia, Mongolia, and Manchuria’s birch stands. The hamster has been recorded in mountain steppes, grassy fields, wheat fields, and dry steppes.
Djungarian hamsters live a solitary life, and they use squeaks and other high-frequency sounds to communicate. They don’t hibernate, but they rest in burrows dug one meter deep.
The tunnels can have as many as six entrances, but they leave only one entrance open in winter. They line the tunnels with wool or animal fur for warmth.
Djungarian hamsters breed at any time, although they become aggressive when ready to mate. Females can get pregnant immediately after giving birth, and they produce 5-12 pups after a 20-22-day gestation period.
Djungarian hamsters produce a large number of young ones after a short time as a survival strategy in the wild.
4. Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
The Roborovski dwarf hamster, commonly known as the Robo or Rob, is the smallest dwarf hamster. Fully-grown robos reach 2-3 inches, and you have to be careful when handling them as they can easily slip out of your hands.
The hamster is also known for its agility and speed, thanks to its naturally long legs. It is said that robos run the equivalent of four human marathons every night on average.
Robos will wait for any opportunity to jump out of their cage, as they can leap 2 feet in the air. You have to be keen when opening the cage if you get this pet.
The hamster’s small body is also a challenge when housing them. They can squeeze in between the cages of standard hamster cages, and their ideal enclosure should have narrower bars.
Some pet owners keep the tiny animals in glass or plastic cages, with a lot of space to roam.
The Roborovski hamster is a tasking pet to keep. They are quick, difficult to handle, and it may take a while to tame them.
Robos are also quick to bite, which can make an inexperienced pet owner drop them. This skittish nature does not go away with time, and you will need a lot of patience to keep them.
Robos thrive in quiet households without predatory animals like cats. Furnish their cage with plenty of toys and an exercise wheel since they have a high metabolism.
5. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster
Campbell’s dwarf hamster was named after Charles William Campbell, who discovered the specimen in 1902 in Mongolia. It is often mistaken with the Djungarian hamster, but it is distinguished by the grey fur on its stomach and its smaller ears.
These hamsters dig deep burrows in the steppes of central and eastern Asia. Their tunnels can be three feet deep, and they are lined with dry grass and sheep’s wool during winter. Unlike Djungarian hamsters, these animals do not have thermoregulation.
Wild Campbell’s dwarf hamsters have been found to co-exist with other hamsters like the Roborovski hamster and the Chinese hamster. Campbell’s hamsters have a friendly nature, and they can thrive in groups if introduced at a young age.
Campbell’s hamsters can develop diabetes if given an unsuitable diet. They also have terrible eyesight and poor depth reception, and they are likely to develop cataracts in old age.
The hamsters have adapted to their sight disability by having many scent glands, which means that they will have stronger smells than other hamsters.
6. Chinese Striped Hamsters
The Chinese stripped hamster is indigenous to deserts in Mongolia, China, and Siberia. A body length of 2.8-4.6 inches makes the animal smaller than common varieties like Syrian hamsters. The hamster’s tail is also longer than that of most hamsters.
Keep a Chinese stripped hamster in a cage with narrow bars as their small size makes it easy for them to escape. Layer the bottom with absorbent beddings like aspen shavings.
These hamsters are good-natured and quiet, but they are very active at night, which is when they feed and play.
You can find a Chinese stripped hamster in most pet stores, but you will need an exotic animal permit to keep the animal in New Jersey and California.
You can keep them in small groups as long as you watch out for any aggression. A Chinese stripped hamster will approach you when you come close to the cage if they feel comfortable.
It is best to sit on the floor if you want to handle the hamster as they are quick and nervous.
7. Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster
The Winter White Russian dwarf hamster is a common pet in North America, Asia, and Europe. This hamster is quite fascinating as it can change its fur color.
Wild hamsters are mostly brown, but they can change their coat to white during winter.
This ability helps them blend with snow and escape predation. The color change rarely happens in captivity as artificial lights make it harder to recognize seasons.
The hamster is around 2-3 inches long and usually weighs an ounce. It has been crossbred with the Campbell’s dwarf hamster, and you can select between pearl, sapphire, and the normal variations.
The Winter White Russian Dwarf hamster is easy to tame, and it is slower than the Roborovski hamster. You can also keep a group of same-sex winter whites, but you should not add a new hamster to a group of adults.
It is always easier to raise a winter white together from a young age. The hamster makes a great pet for kids, as it is less likely to bite.
8. Teddy Bear Hamsters
You may come across a hamster breed called teddy bear in pet stores when looking for a furry friend. Teddy bear hamsters are actually Syrian hamsters by another name.
You can follow the guidelines for keeping a Syrian hamster to make your pet comfortable. Keep in mind that teddy bear hamsters are solitary, and you shouldn’t house them in groups.
Do not attempt to breed Syrian hamsters, or any other variety, at home.
Hamster breeds differ in size, colors, temperament, and sociability. While some varieties like the Syrian hamsters are widely kept as pets, others like the European hamsters remain wild and untamed.
You have to provide a large cage, a suitable diet, and plenty of activity in the form of toys for any kind of hamster you buy. Keep in mind that hamsters are prone to obesity and diabetes when feeding them.