Hamsters are one of the most popular pets thanks to their fun and entertaining nature.
You may not have realized, but there are actually 24 different types of hamster species, but only five of them are typically kept as pets.
There are some hamsters that prefer to live in groups, while others prefer to be alone.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the top five types of hamsters that you should know about.
This allows you to decide which kind of hamster you want to get as a pet and make the decision that is right for you.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Hamster?
Before we delve into the various types of hamsters, it’s important to understand the characteristics that you can expect to find in a pet hamster.
Here are some of the main ones to look out for:
- They tend to range between 2 and 7 inches in length.
- They have small eyes and short tails.
- They can be a range of colors including black, brown, red, white, or yellow.
- They have large pouches in their cheeks that can store and carry food.
- Their feet are wide, and they have four toes at the front and five toes at the back.
- Their front teeth are chisel-shaped, and they grow throughout their whole life.
- The larger types of hamsters prefer to live solo and male hamsters may fight for dominance.
- They rarely bite humans and are seen as docile.
- They are nocturnal animals.
Different Types Of Hamsters
Here are the different types of hamsters that you can have as a pet:
1. Campbell’s Dwarf Russian Hamster
- Scientific name: Phodopus campbelli
- Length: between 2 and 4 inches
- Weight: between 1.5 and 2 ounces
- Characteristics: They are identifiable by the brownish-gray fur on their body, white fur on their belly, the dark stripe on their back, and furry feet.
The first option is the Campbell’s Dwarf Russian Hamster which has a life expectancy of two years.
It is a social breed meaning that you can keep more than one provided that it is a same-sex group and ensuring that the hamsters are introduced properly.
They are known for their fast speeds but bear in mind that they are shy and easily frightened.
They are also nocturnal creatures, but they will wake for short amounts of time during the day.
2. Chinese Hamster
- Scientific name: Cricetus griseus
- Length: between 3.2 and 5 inches
- Weight: between 1.1 and 1.6 ounces
- Characteristics: they are identifiable by their brown body fur that features a long black stripe down the back as well as light-colored fur on the belly. They also have a longer tail compared to most hamsters.
The second option you have is the Chinese Hamster which can live up to three years and is known for its friendly nature.
They are comfortable being handled if they have been tamed from an early age.
Bear in mind that if they have not been tamed from an early age, this can cause them to grow up to be nervous or shy.
They are extremely quick and can easily squirm away from your hands meaning that you need to be careful when it comes too high they are being held.
They can also be kept in groups provided that the other hamsters are of the same sex and have been properly introduced.
3. Dwarf Roborovski
- Scientific name: Phodopus roborovski
- Length: between 2 and 3 inches
- Weight: between 0.7 and 1 ounce
- Characteristics: they are identifiable by their sandy brown body fur with white belly fur as well as the white markings that can be found around their eyes.
The third option you have is the Dwarf Roborovski which is the smallest of the hamsters on this list.
They have a life expectancy of three years and are best kept in an aquarium that has a mesh lid as they can easily escape any cages made from wire.
Due to its small size, it is a fast-moving hamster and is highly active so needs plenty of toys to ensure that it is engaged.
They prefer to not be handled, although they can be tamed and handled from a young age.
However, bear in mind that if you do handle them not to hold them too high as they can squirm from your hands.
They can be kept in same-sex groups provided that they are introduced properly beforehand.
4. Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster
- Scientific name: Phodopus sungorus
- Length: between 2.7 and 3.5 inches
- Weight: between 0.7 and 1.6 ounces
- Characteristics: they are identifiable by their plump bodies with dark gray body fur and white belly fur as well as the black stripe down the back. Their fur also turns white during the winter months.
The fourth option you have is the Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster which has an average life expectancy of two years.
They are extremely docile meaning that they are not likely to bite when being handled, but their agile nature means that they can easily squirm out of your hands, so you will need to be careful when it comes to how high you are holding them.
This hamster can be kept in same-sex groups provided that they are introduced properly, but they can turn territorial, so you will need to monitor the hamsters’ behavior towards one another to prevent any fights from happening.
5. Syrian Hamster/Golden Hamster
- Scientific name: Mesocricetus auratus
- Length: between 5 and 9 inches
- Weight: approximately 5 ounces
- Characteristics: they are identifiable by their golden brown body fur with a slightly lighter-colored belly fur and various patterns, coloring, and hair lengths.
The final option you have is the Syrian Hamster, also known as the Golden Hamster.
This is the most popular option for those looking for a pet hamster as they are suitable for young children and have a life expectancy between 2 and 4 years.
They can be found in varying coat lengths and colors, but the main color they can be found is a golden brown fur body.
They are incredibly easy to tame and care for and are docile with humans.
However, they have to be kept alone from other hamsters as they are extremely territorial and will fight if they are put in a group.
They are nocturnal meaning they are awake at night, but they will wake for short periods during the day.
In conclusion, there are many types of hamsters for you to choose from when it comes to selecting pets.
However, bearing the information in the article in mind allows you to make a fully-informed decision with confidence.