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5 Types of Hamster Breeds and Which to Choose Based on Their Personality Traits and How to Care for Them

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.

If you’re unsure of which to add to your family, here’s a list of 5 types of hamster breeds that are domesticated. We’ve also included common traits and useful care tips to help you see which is best suited for your lifestyle!

Disclaimer: The content in this article provides general information that should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a vet. For an accurate diagnosis of your hamster’s health condition, please consult a vet. 

Infographic about hamster breeds

1. Syrian Hamster

Syrian hamsters are one of the most common pets in Singapore due to their cuddly and docile nature. These charming furry babies are also known as golden hamsters or teddy bear hamsters.

Physical Traits

Size15 - 17cm
Weight100 - 140g
Life expectancy2 - 3 years
Features
  • Typically golden brown with a lighter belly
  • Stubby tail, small eyes and cheek pouches
  • Comes in long coat variants
  • Personality traits

    • Easy to tame and handle
    • Friendly and docile
    • Solitary

    They’re known to be the friendliest hamster breed for humans. As they’re solitary creatures, Syrians are best housed alone. They’re known to fight and inflict harm on each other when housed together.

    Care requirements

    Diet

    In order to keep your Syrian healthy, an ideal diet should include:

    Commercial hamster mixes
    Small pieces of fresh vegetables and fruits, including apples, pears, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
    An occasional treat like nuts, grains, seeds or mealworms

    Housing

    As Syrians are larger in size compared to other hamster breeds, they require a larger hamster wheel and living space so that they can get their daily dose of exercise!


    Note!
    All hamsters require bedding at the bottom of their cage to keep them comfortable and as a way to burrow like they do in the wild. You can use shredded paper and hardwood shavings.

    Cedar or pine-based bedding should be avoided as the smell can be toxic to them.

    Grooming

    • Brushing: Once daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush for long coat variants
    • Cleaning: Place a bathhouse filled with bath powder in the cage and change it out every 2 weeks. Spot clean with wipes if necessary
    • Hair trimming: For long coat variants, trim hair when it gets too long or intrusive 

    If there’s a weird odour coming from your Syrians, there may be a chance that he’s suffering from wet tail disease. This is a health condition which Syrians are susceptible to and is usually caused by stress. 

    To prevent this, vets recommend using wet tail drops when you first take your hamster home.


    Suitable for:
  • Hamster owners of every age and care experience
  • Owners who have time to dedicate to grooming (for long-haired variants)

  • 2. Winter White Hamster

    As their name suggests, winter white dwarf hamsters originated from snowy regions. They also go by the names Siberian hamster and Djungarian hamster. 

    Interestingly, their coats turn white in winter to help protect them from predators! They share a similar appearance to Campbell’s dwarf hamsters, with the exception of having furry feet, smaller ears and a wider dorsal stripe. 

    Physical Traits

    Size7 - 10cm
    Weight19 - 45g
    Life expectancy1.5 - 2 years
    Features
  • Grey or brown coats that can turn white in winter
  • Thick and dense coat
  • A wide black dorsal stripe along their backs
  • Small ears, furry feet and a round face
  • Personality traits

    • Sweet and mellow
    • Social 
    • Playful and active

    Winter white hamsters are easily tamed and enjoy the company of a same-sex companion. They’re very energetic hamsters that love to play.

    Care requirements

    Diet

    Winter white hamsters have no particular food requirements, but a balanced diet is essential to keep them in good health and provide energy. 

    Feed them a combination of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, insects and hamster mixes! 

    Housing

    As winter whites are extremely active and love to climb, having a cage with multiple levels and plenty of interactive toys for hamsters will prevent boredom. 

    Tanks are a more ideal housing for these animals. They’re almost half the size of Syrians and are quite fast, which may allow them to escape through the gaps of traditional hamster cages.

    Grooming

    Winter white hamsters don’t require as much grooming as a long-haired Syrian hamster. A dust bath will be sufficient to keep them squeaky clean!

    Note that you shouldn’t give any hamster a wet bath as it’ll harm them.


    Suitable for:
  • Hamster owners of every experience level

  • Not suitable for:
  • Children as primary caretakers

  • 3. Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

    With their round bodies and small size, Campbell’s dwarf hamsters have an adorable look. It may be common to see pet stores naming them as “yellow pudding”, “blue pudding” or “sapphire” hamsters depending on their coat colour.

    Physical Traits

    Size10cm
    Weight27g
    Life expectancy1.5 - 2 years
    Features
  • Commonly found in grey or brown, but can come in many different coat colours
  • A thin dorsal stripe on back
  • Light grey fur on stomach
  • Large and upright ears, and a long and thin face
  • Personality traits

    • Affectionate
    • Easily frightened 
    • Stubborn

    When startled or grumpy, Campbells may resort to nipping. They tend to remain awake during the times they receive the most attention.

    Care requirements

    Diet

    Compared to other hamster breeds, Campbells are prone to diabetes. An ideal diet should consist of high protein content and minimal fruits to reduce sugar levels. 

    For example, you can feed them about ⅙ of a grape each month as a snack. You can also consult your vet before feeding them any fruits. 

    Housing

    When Campbells don’t feel comfortable, they may attempt to escape the cage. The best way to prevent this is to keep their housing well ventilated, to which a cage may be more ideal than a tank.

    As they’re rather timid, ensure that there’s plenty of hiding places in the cage to make them feel safe when they’re sleeping or hiding. 

    Grooming

    Similar to winter whites, they don’t have special grooming requirements. You need to ensure that you place a dust bath in the cage and replace it every 2 weeks to keep your hamster clean.


    Suitable for:
  • Experienced hamster owners

  • Not suitable for:
  • Children as primary caretakers
  • First-time hamster owners

  • 4. Roborovski Hamster

    Roborovski hamsters are the smallest hamster species and the fastest of the dwarf breeds. They’re also called Robo dwarf hamsters. These hardy little animals aren’t especially prone to any illnesses.

    Physical Traits

    Size5 - 7cm
    Weight20 - 25g
    Life expectancy3 - 4 years
    Features
  • Sandy brown colour with white fur on their stomach
  • Distinctive white marks over their eyes
  • Upright ears
  • Personality traits

    • Extremely shy 
    • Social with other hamsters
    • Possessive over belongings

    Roborovskis are social creatures that love interacting with their own kind. However, they don’t enjoy being touched and may try to escape when being handled. 

    Care requirements

    Diet

    Feed your Roborovski with a tablespoon of hamster mix and small amounts of fresh food daily as they have very fast metabolisms.

    Housing

    A tank may be more ideal than a cage because a cage has gaps where these agile creatures could escape through. 

    As Roborovskis dislike sharing, ensure that each hamster has their own toys, bowls and water bottles to prevent fighting.

    Grooming

    They require dust baths to keep clean and hygienic. If you need to spot clean them, use treats or toys to keep them distracted and wipe gently as they might try to wriggle out of your hand.


    Suitable for:
  • Experienced hamster owners

  • Not suitable for:
  • Children as primary caretakers
  • First-time hamster owners

  • 5. Chinese Hamster

    Chinese hamsters are small rodents that came from the deserts of China and Mongolia. They’re often mistaken as mice due to their pointed noise and noticeable tail.

    Physical Traits

    Size8.2 - 13cm
    Weight30 - 45g
    Life expectancy2.5 - 3 years
    Features
  • Brown coats with a thin black dorsal stripe along their backs
  • White fur on stomach
  • Long prominent tail as compared to other breeds
  • Round, upright ears and a pointed nose
  • Personality traits

    • Friendly and doesn’t nip
    • Prone to behavioural problems without enough interaction
    • Territorial

    Chinese hamsters need frequent attention and handling to keep them calm and satisfied. They may start chewing on anything they can get their teeth on when they’re bored or left alone for extended periods of time. 

    Care requirements

    Diet

    Similar to other hamsters, Chinese hamsters will benefit from a diet of hamster food, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and insects.

    Housing

    As these hamsters require constant interaction, you can help by providing toys and space to keep them occupied and promote their mental health.

    House them in separate cages if you have more than one until you’re absolutely sure that they won’t harm each other. Alternatively, you can get littermates who are already used to each other’s presence.

    For female Chinese hamsters, it’s best to house them separately as they can get more aggressive as they mature.

    Grooming

    Ensure there’s a bath house with sufficient space for them to groom themselves. Fortunately, spot cleaning your Chinese hamster should be relatively simple as they enjoy being held. 


    Suitable for:
  • Pet owners who are fond of handling pets regularly
  • Experienced hamster owners

  • Not suitable for:
  • Children as primary caretakers
  • First-time hamster owners

  • 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! Do familiarise yourself with their dietary requirements too.

    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!

    Article by:
    Gavin
    Contributors:
    Having re-watched the television series numerous times, Gavin is a die-hard fan of Game of Thrones. He plans to go on a road trip to visit all the filming locations in Croatia, Iceland and Spain. In his free time, he loves playing basketball and watching documentaries.
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