If you’re a pet lover, it’s almost impossible to walk past a pet store without stopping to admire some hamsters. Tiny yet full of quirks, they’re a joy to watch – even when they’re sleeping. Plus, they’re easy to care for, making them great pets for beginners.

Types of Hamster Breeds: How to Choose

If you’re unsure of which to add to your family, here’s a list of hamster breeds with each of their characteristics explained.

1. Syrian Hamster

Types of Hamster Breeds: Syrian

Also known as:     Golden Hamster, Teddy Bear Hamster
Lifespan:                2 – 3 years
Size:                        6 – 7 inches

Syrian hamsters are one of the most common pets in Singapore due to their cuddly nature.

Features of Syrian Hamsters

  • Golden brown fur and white bellies
  • Long-coat variations also exist

Personality Traits of Syrian Hamsters

  • Easy breed to tame and handle
  • Best housed alone

Syrians are solitary creatures that are best housed alone. They are known to fight and inflict harm on each other when housed together.

Caring for Syrian Hamsters

  • Require ample space

Due to their size, Syrians require a larger hamster wheel and living space for ample exercise.

This is a fatal condition caused by stress. To prevent this, vets usually recommend using wet tail drops when you first take your hamster home.

Suitable for:

  • First-time pet owners

Not suitable for:

  • Housing with multiple hamsters

2. Winter White Hamster

Types of Hamster Breeds: Winter White

Also known as:     Striped Dwarf, Siberian Hamster, Djungarian Hamster
Lifespan:                1.5 – 2 years
Size:                        3 – 4 inches

Winter White dwarf hamsters originate from the snowy regions and are half the size of Syrians.

Features of Winter White Hamsters

  • Brown or grey coats

Their coats turn white in winter to hide themselves from predators.

  • Solid black line along their backs and furry feet

Although they share a similar appearance to Campbell’s, they can be distinguished by their furry feet.

Personality Traits of Winter White Hamsters

  • Sweet, mellow and social

Like all dwarf breeds, the Winter White hamster is easily tamed and enjoys the company of a same-sex pal.

  • Easily startled

Due to their timid nature, it’s best to keep their cage in a quiet spot.

Caring for Winter White Hamsters

As winter whites are extremely active and love to climb, these features will prevent boredom.

  • House them in tanks or cages with narrow gaps

Their tiny size allows them to escape through the gaps in traditional hamster cages.

Not suitable for:

  • Younger kids without supervision

Due to their speed and size, they may be a challenge for kids to handle.

3. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

Types of Hamster Breeds: Campbell's Dwarf

Also known as:     Russian Dwarf Hamster
Lifespan:                1.5 – 2 years
Size:                        4 inches

Features of Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters

It may be common to see pet stores advertise these hamsters as “Yellow Pudding”, “Blue Pudding” or “Sapphire”, but they’re really just Campbell’s hamsters with different coloured coats.

Personality Traits of Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

  • Easily frightened

Campbell’s sometimes leave a nasty bite when startled.

  • Known to adjust their sleeping hours

Despite being nocturnal, they stay awake whenever they receive most attention.

Caring for Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

  • Prone to diabetes

An ideal diet should contain high protein content and minimal fruits.

  • House Campbell’s in a ventilated tank to prevent escaping
  • Consider getting hideaways for them

Campbell’s enjoy sleeping in a safe enclosed space.

Not suitable for:

  • Young kids who get too excited

These small and quick hamsters may bite when startled.

4. Roborovski Hamster

Types of Hamster Breeds: Roborovski

Also known as:     Robo Dwarf Hamster
Lifespan:                2.5 – 3 years
Size:                        2 – 3 inches

As the fastest dwarf breed, Roborovski hamsters are skittish and will try to escape when being handled.

Personality Traits of a Roborovski Hamster

  • Extremely shy creatures that don’t enjoy being touched
  • Impossible to tame, but fun to observe

These rodents are social creatures that love interacting with their own kind while you watch from outside their homes.

Caring for a Roborovski Hamster

  • Require a large enclosed tank

Roborovski hamsters need lots of space to run and play.

  • Dislike sharing

When housed in a group, each hamster should have their own toys, bowls and water bottles to prevent fighting.

  • Not especially prone to any illnesses

Supplement high-quality hamster food with small amounts of fresh food to keep them healthy.

Suitable for:

  • Pet lovers who enjoy watching them run around

Not suitable for:

  • Those who want to handle them

Their incredible speed makes them impossible to tame.

5. Chinese Hamster

Types of Hamster Breeds: Chinese

Lifespan:                2.5 – 3 years
Size:                        3 – 4 inches

Features of a Chinese Hamster

With mouse-like features and a prominent tail, the Chinese Hamster is often mistaken as a mouse.

Personality Traits of a Chinese Hamster

  • Extremely quick on their feet
  • Friendly and doesn’t nip
  • Prone to behavioural problems without enough interaction

Chinese hamsters can often turn destructive and cranky when they are bored. They’ll start chewing on anything they get their teeth on.

Caring for a Chinese Hamster

  • Provide lots of toys and stimulation
  • Constant interaction

Handling them often helps with their mental health.

  • House them separately till you’re sure they won’t harm one another

As females mature, they may become aggressive and need to be separated.

Suitable for:

  • Everyone who enjoys handling your pets often

Not suitable for:

  • Pet owners who aren’t able to interact often with them

Understanding the Different Hamster Breeds

Each hamster breed has unique characteristics, but it’s important to bear in mind that temperaments may change due to environment and age.

No matter how adorable they may seem, hamsters still require a commitment period of 3 to 5 years, so don’t get them on impulse! 

Buying hamsters isn’t the only way to take these cuddly pets home. Read our guide to find out where to adopt hamsters in Singapore!

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