Which Hamster Should I Get?
There are several species of hamsters being kept as pets today, and they all require a bit different care, so it's important to know the difference between the species to know which hamster is right for you. Make sure you know everything there is to know about whichever type of hamster you choose before you buy or adopt them!
Common Pet Hamster Species
- Russian Dwarf
- Winter White
1. Syrian Hamster
The Syrian, or teddy bear hamster, is the most popular species of hamster that is kept as a pet today. They are also the largest, growing up to 6 or 7 inches in length. Because of this, they require a larger cage and wheel and other accessories to accommodate their length.
Syrian hamsters also tend to be the friendliest (which makes them popular amongst kids) and generally allow people to pick them up and pet them without biting. In addition, Syrian hamsters are less active than dwarf hamsters, and this helps make them easier to handle as well. Syrian hamsters have an average lifespan of about three years. They are not social creatures and will attack other Syrian hamsters that are kept with them.
2. Russian Dwarf Hamster
The Russian dwarf, or Campbell hamster, is a very small critter, growing only to about 3 or 4 inches in length. Like the winter white hamster, they have a relatively short lifespan, living for 1 1/2 to 2 years. However, they are packed with personality.
They are much more active than the Syrian hamster, but less active than the Roborovski hamster and therefore easier to handle. Russian dwarf hamsters like to be kept in pairs IF introduced at a young age (housing two hamsters from the same litter is ideal). However, when introducing two male hamsters, it is wise to keep a very close eye out for violence.
3. Winter White Hamster
The winter white hamster is just about identical to the Russian dwarf hamster except for one thing—their fur changes color! As its name suggests, in the winter they grow a white coat, while during the hotter parts of the year, they sport a brown coat that makes them almost indistinguishable from Campbell hamsters.
As they are identical, they also should be paired with caution just like Russian dwarfs. They also grow to the same age and length as Russian dwarf hamsters. Both Russian dwarf hamsters and winter whites are adorable little critters who are fun to watch and relatively easy to cuddle!
4. Roborovski Hamster
This hamster is the smallest, fastest, and hardest to handle. They only grow to be about 2 inches but have a long lifespan of up to 3 1/2 years. They are incredibly adorable and lively, and though they may not be very cuddly, it certainly is enjoyable to watch their antics as they run around their home at light speed. They are very social animals and should be kept with at least one other hamster, but owners should watch for violence in case of an unusually aggressive hamster.
Choosing the Right Hamster
When purchasing or adopting your hamster, there are many considerations you need to keep in mind. What size cage you have, the costs you'd be willing to spend, how long you would want to keep a hamster, and more are all factors you need to keep in mind, but the most important is to make sure your hamster's behavior and personality matches what you are looking for in a pet, and you are willing to give him the best care he could possibly get.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.