Hamsters are wonderful creatures and, since they are rather easy to look after, they make wonderful first pets for small children and teenagers. Check out this following article to find out more about the most popular hamster breeds, how to look after each of them, and how to choose the perfect cages for hamsters.
Out of around 20 different breeds of hamsters, the Syrian one is the most popular choice. It is also the largest breed since an adult can grow up to seven inches in length. Syrian hamsters come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, and they have a lifespan of 2-4 years.
Originating from the Syrian Desert, these rodents enjoy living alone, and should never be kept with other hamsters as they tend to be aggressive.
Because they are larger, their cages, toys, and accessories should also match their size. That being said, hamsters from this breed enjoy exercising and being active, so consider purchasing a two-story cage, filled with toys, running wheels, and a hut for it to nap and rest.
Although most hamsters are nocturnal creatures, Syrian females tend to be more active, including during the daytime, which makes them more suitable as pets for small children.
Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamster
If the name seems hard to remember, you can simply refer to it as the Russian hamster. It obviously originates from Russia and it is also named the Campbell hamster after the first man who captured it in the wild, a man named W. Campbell.
The Russians are quite small creatures and seem like miniatures compared to their Syrian cousins. They won’t grow more than four inches in length and they have a lifespan of around 2 years.
However, unlike the Syrians, the Russian hamsters can happily live in a group or in the same cage as same-gender adults, without fighting over the territory.
They are social creatures but tend to be more panicky than other hamster breeds, so you’ll need to supervise their interactions with other animals or with your children.
Since Russian hamsters don’t live more than two years, we don’t recommend them as pets for small children because, once they get attached to their owners, a breakup caused by death will be painful for your kids.
Another reason why we don’t necessarily recommend them as pets is that they are truly nocturnal, meaning they won’t stay awake for too much during the day and, therefore, they might interfere with your child’s schedule.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster
Although it was initially believed to be a subspecies of the aforementioned Campbell Russian Hamster, geneticists have shown that there are enough differences between the two to be considered entirely different breeds.
Another similarity to the Russian hamster is that the Winter White also has various names, such as the Djungarian hamster (named after a region in Mongolia where it was discovered) or the Siberian hamster (named after the region of Siberia in Russia, where it originates from). Thus, it’s easy to mistake these two species.
However, they cannot be easily found in pet shops so, if you’re lucky enough to adopt one, make sure it has everything it needs to live a long and happy life.
Due to its small dimensions, we don’t recommend keeping the Winter White Russian in metallic cages but rather in glass aquariums or plastic cages that will prevent them from escaping. They’re more active than other species of hamsters and love exercising, so you’ll need to provide them with plenty of toys, exercising balls, and running wheels to keep them busy.
They are also sociable creatures and love spending time with their kind, so you might want to adopt a same-sex partner if you don’t want to throw baby showers in the future. Moreover, the Winter White Russians develop a unique bond with their owners and they enjoy being cuddled, so don’t forget to show your pet affection.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Also known as the Mongolian hamster, this one originates from Mongolia, a territory in South-East Asia. It’s even smaller than other breeds and doesn’t exceed two inches in length, meaning you should pay attention to the type of cage you’re buying if you don’t want to look for your hamster all over the house.
We suggest looking for a plastic cage or a glass aquarium as they are large enough to satisfy your pet’s needs of physical activity without endangering it and exposing it to the threats of your apartment. Keep in mind that Roborovski hamsters are good at escaping, and this is why it will be difficult to tame them or cuddle them. This is also one of the reasons why they don’t make great companions for children.
They are also social creatures and, as long as they lived in groups when growing up, the Roborovski hamsters enjoy the company of a partner or even a group. However, if you decide to adopt more than a pair, make sure you have enough space and exercising wheels for each individual – they are known to be excellent runners.
Commonly known as the striped hamster due to its colorful fur, the Chinese hamster originates from Southern China and measures approximately four inches in length. They are solitary creatures and don’t do well when paired with other individuals of the same species, so it would be best to keep them alone in their cage.
You can easily identify the Chinese hamsters through their brown backs and ivory coloring. Due to their rather small dimensions, they are agile and extremely quick, which means they don’t make suitable pets for children. However, if you do decide to adopt a Chinese hamster, make sure all the interactions between the rodent and your children are supervised.
Another important thing to consider before housing Chinese hamsters is that they require plenty of space and numerous toys. They can easily get bored and become grumpy, and even aggressive at some point, so it’s highly important they have enough sources of entertainment.
Chewing toys, snacks, treats, and exercise wheels are mandatory to keep your pet’s teeth healthy and its body weight within reasonable limits.