Common Pet Hamster Species And Breeds

Most people are familiar with the hamster. These small, hairy animals have been a must have pet over the last few decades in the United States. There are several hamster types sold in stores. The most popular breed was discovered in Syria. The Syrian hamster was the first to be used in a laboratory and first to be tamed and kept as a family pet. The Syrian hamster is called the ‘teddy bear” hamster, the golden hamster, and the fancy hamster. It is the biggest breed, at an average adult length of 6 inches long. It is a solitary pet and should never be housed with another male or female. Syrian hamsters that are housed together will fight.

Dward Hamster Species

After the initial discovery of the Syrian hamster, new species were found in other parts of the Pacific Rim and the Middle East.

Roborovsky’s dwarf hamster, the Chinese Hamster and Campbell’s dwarf hamster are all ‘dwarf ‘ hamster breeds and are all found as pets. These species aren’t technically ‘dwarfs’ but are referred to as such due to the smaller size relative to the Syrian hamster. Campbell’s petite hamster has tiny ears and a narrow dorsal stripe of dark fur down the back. The Roborovsky’s dwarf hamster, or ‘Robo’ hamster, is the smallest of the dwarf breeds. It has white fur patches above the eyes and does not have the dorsal stripe of dark fur found on other tiny breeds. The Chinese hamster is longer and thinner than the other breeds of hamsters and is more frequently compared to a mouse than a hamster. It is also the sole hamster species that have a long prehensile tail.

Other Breeds

Different breeds of Syrian hamster also exist, for example. the Angora, which is famous for the males of the breed having a beautiful, rich looking coat. The black bear is related to the Angora, differing in the sense that the coat colour is black, and personality is more friendly.

Hamster Breed Differences

Differences between hamster breeds and species is essentially the size, coat and color. The basic biology and behavior are consistent between the different types of hamsters, with a few exceptions. The primary difference between the Golden hamster and the dwarf is size. The Syrian reaches an average adult size of 6 inches long. The dwarf breeds only grow to, on average, 2-3 inches in length, making them half the length of the Syrian. The other significant difference between the Golden hamster and the dwarf breeds is that, while the Golden hamster is a strictly solitary and shouldn’t be housed with others, the dwarfs are more friendly and will tolerate being housed with other dwarf hamsters. However,, all hamsters should be watched closely for aggressive behaviour when caged together, especially when originally introduced.

Cathy Doggins has authored multiple articles on small pet care. When not caring for her pets like these, Cathy helps as a volunteer at local pet shelters and cares for her growing collection of dwarf and golden hamsters.

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