If you’re a pet lover, it’s almost impossible to walk past a pet store without stopping to view the range of hamsters displayed for sale. 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. So if you’re thinking of bringing home a furry addition to your family, yet you’re unsure of which to get, here’s a list of the top 5 hamster breeds with their characteristics explained.
1. Syrian Hamster
Syrians are the largest of their species, easily occupying your whole palm. They are the easiest to tame and are comfortable with being handled, making them the perfect pet for children. Due to their size, they require a larger hamster wheel and living space for ample exercise.
Syrians also come in long-coat variations, and these babies have to be brushed daily, lest your pet becomes a matted fur ball. Given their cuddly nature, it may be tempting to get more than one of them. However, they’re solitary creatures and must be kept alone.
2. Winter White
As its name suggests, the Winter White originates from snowy regions. In the wild, these hamsters can dig up to more than 1 metre below the snow just to hide from predators. So not to worry when you can’t seem to find your furry friend in their cage – they’re probably burrowed beneath the bedding.
Being hamsters that love to climb, they require a cage with multiple levels to escape boredom. They are sweet and mellow in nature, but also small and quick, making them better companions for adults than children.
3. Russian Dwarf
It may be common to see pet stores advertise hamsters with names such as “Yellow Pudding” or “Sapphire”, but they’re really just Russian Dwarf hamsters with different coloured coats. As pretty and docile as they seem, they’re easily frightened and may leave a nasty bite when startled.
Due to their small size, the Russian Dwarf is a nocturnal animal that only comes out after dusk when their predators are sleeping. So if you’re a night owl, you’ll be glad to have somebody accompany you through the night.
4. Chinese Hamster
With mouse-like features and a prominent tail, the Chinese Hamster is often mistaken as a mouse. Small enough to squeeze through metal bars, these rodents are natural escape artists and are best kept in aquariums.
Because they’re quick on their feet, the Chinese hamster is hard to handle, but still possesses a friendly temperament and is not likely to nip. However, they’re active creatures that will turn cranky when not given enough stimulation – be sure to fill their cages with toys!
5. Roborovski Dwarf
For those looking to tame their hamsters, you can cross the Roborovski Dwarf out of your list. As the fastest dwarf breed, they’re skittish and will try to escape when being handled.
Though almost impossible to tame, they’re still a joy to keep as they’re fun to observe. These rodents are social creatures that love interacting with their own kind while you watch from outside their homes.
Knowing Your Hamster’s Character
Different breeds of hamsters may carry certain characteristics, but it’s important to bear in mind that temperaments may change due to environment and age, and you’ll still have to love your fur ball unconditionally. No matter how adorable they seem, hamsters still require a commitment period of 3 to 5 years, so don’t get them on impulse!