Hamster Type And Species

There are five common pet hamster species:

1. Syrian hamsters
Syrian hamster a.k.a golden hamsters, the largest of the pet hamsters. They are sturdy, solitary creatures. They MUST be housed alone or they will fight to the death from a few weeks old onward. more...

2. Dwarf Campbells Russian hamsters
This is the dwarf hamster which is appreciated the most in pet animal contexts. The length of a grown animal is 5 to 8 centimeters. Campbells Russian dwarf hamster has fur on paws and tail, as well, and exists with a number of fur colours. This type of hamster may be brought to accept the company of racial brethrens, if the introduction to do so takes place in its early years. more...

3. Roborovski dwarf hamsters
The smallest pet hamster species, these little guys are fast and charming. They're smaller than Campbells, and they have the distinction of being the species with heavy white eyebrows, although a recent mutation exists in which the entire face is white. They live best in pairs or small groups, and are the hamsters suited to a bit more watching than handling. They may be called dwarf Russians or Siberians also by unwitting shops, but it's important to recognize them, as they cannot be housed with any other species of hamster. They're a bit of an unusual find in most areas of the U.S., and often expensive. They're best left to experienced owners, as they're quick and often timid, and routine health checks and other hands-on care will require some confidence. more...

4. Siberian or Winter White Russian dwarf hamsters
These little guys are hard for some to distinguish from the Campbells. One key is that they come in a much smaller number of colors and patterns. None of the known mutations have red eyes, for example -- only Campbells have those. There are a few other distinguishing characteristics, but the distinction is best made in photos and is covered well at the link below. Winter Whites are also good first hamsters, but for older children and adults, since younger kids may have trouble handling the smaller species. Pet shops sometimes mix the two dwarf Russian species in tanks, but that creates constant friction with potentially deadly consequences. The two dwarf Russian species are the only two species of hamsters that can interbreed, but doing so weakens each species, and the practice of hybridization is warned against by many.

5. Chinese mouselike hamster
Longer, thinner, lighter hamsters with a bit more tail than the Russian dwarfs. These guys are best suited to experienced owners, and are unusual finds in pet shops in the U.S. They can live in closely monitored pairs or small groups, but the balance of dominance is often delicate, and separations are more likely to be necessary than with dwarf species. Of course, a knowledgeable breeder would be more likely to provide carefully reared, closely bonded pairs.


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