Hamsters have been our cute furry friends for ages, their domestication began in the late 1700s. Over the years they have become a common staple in the home. Many people today will tell you their first pet was a hamster. Whether you’re an experienced pet owner or not, hamsters make great companion creatures. That being said, what are the different types of hamster and how do they differ?
In the wild there are roughly 20 different species of hamster. However, only five of these are commonly kept as house pets: The Syrian hamster, The Chinese Dwarf Hamster, The Cambpell’s Dwarf Hamster, The Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster, and the Roborvski Dwarf Hamster (Robo). Though they are all hamsters, each species has their own care requirements and distinct quirks.
The Syrian Hamster
The Syrian hamster, also referred to as the Golden hamster or the Teddy Bear hamster, is the most popular of the bunch. They are the largest domesticated hamster, ranging from 5-7 inches in length. As they are the biggest, they need a wheel that is at least 8in in diameter, anything less is too small. Syrian hamsters are generally very sociable and friendly. While great with people, these hamsters do not do well with their own kind. Syrian hamsters are extremely territorial and need to live alone. Despite this, you should have no issues handling them. They also tend to have the most personality.
The Chinese Dwarf Hamster
The Chinese Dwarf hamster is the next largest, measuring 3-5 inches in length. Unlike the other species of pet hamster, the Chinese Dwarf has a long mouselike tail. These hamsters are known for being shier than Syrians, however they are friendly and will enjoy your company if handled from an early age. Be careful when handling as they are on the more skittish side, they can easily jump out of your hands.
The Cambpell’s Dwarf and Winter White Hamster
The Cambpell’s Dwarf and Winter White Dwarf hamster are very similar. Both measure between 2-4 inches when fully grown. They have similar temperaments, and both can be housed with other hamsters of their respective species. Just make sure the animals living together are the same sex, otherwise your hamsters will quickly multiply. Both the Cambpell’s and the Winter White are quick on their feet. While they can enjoy human interaction it is important to do it in a safe enclosed area. Otherwise, your hamster may run off and you could lose them.
The Roborovski Hamster
The last of the five domesticated hamster species is the Roborovski Dwarf (Robo) Hamster. Robo hamsters are tiny, measuring about two inches in length when fully grown. It is best to avoid wire cages with these pets, as they can easily slip through the bars and escape. Like, Winter White and Cambpell hamsters, Robos can be housed with other Robos of the same sex. Of all the pet hamsters, Robos like to be handled the least and are the most likely to bite. These pets do well left to their own devices.
Regardless of which hamster you choose as a pet, each one will provide you with two to three years of love and enrichment. They all have the similar dietary requirements and need at least two square feet of space in their enclosure. Ideally, up to 400-450 square inches.