Hamsters are one of the favored pets that parents choose for their kids. This is because they are very cute, friendly, and playful creatures. Also, they are widely-available at pet stores and need very little living area. You can easily house them in a small cage or even an aquarium. Hamsters are low-maintenance pets who love to stay clean and are odorless, thus making them ideal for small apartments or houses. If you are thinking of getting home a pet hamster for your children, then you may be thinking of the most suitable type for your family. Given below are the different types of hamsters and the breeds included within them.
Most Popular Breeds
Of all the different types of hamsters, there are 5 breeds that are the most popular as pets according to the Hamster Club. They are given below.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster
Also called the Djungarian Dwarf Hamsters, they originated from Northern Kazakhstan and Siberia. During the cold winter days, these hamsters develop a thicker coat. Despite their dwarf size, they require more living space. They are also faster than the Chinese and Roborovski hamsters. They are very social and live in colonies. A surprising fact about these hamsters is that after the female gives birth, the male hamster cleans up the area. He even makes sure that the mother has enough to eat and helps in child rearing. They come in a variety of coat colors like white, sandy, gray, brown, and may even have a bi-colored coat. They have different coat types like satin, rex, wavy, and normal. You can recognize a Russian dwarf hamster from the signature dark striping on its back.
Chinese hamsters are a long-tailed variety of Dwarf hamsters. They originated in China and grow to only 3 inches in length. Their average life span is only 3 years. They have a longer and thinner body with an extremely long tail. They have only three coat colors, brown, white, and gray-and-white. They cling to your finger with all four paws. They are really small and can easily get scared or injured when handled by young kids. Therefore, be sure that an adult is always present when a child handles these timid little hamsters. They have a life span of about 1.5 to 2 years.
Syrian hamsters or Golden hamsters are one of the most common types of pet hamsters. They are only 7 inches in length and thought to be rodents. They are nocturnal animals and are most active at dusk and dawn. They have a cheek pouch to carry and hold food. When they get access to a lot of food, they store it in a burrow area. You should avoid getting more than one of these as pets. They are aggressive towards one another and females are known to attack males just after mating. They have a mix of brown and black coat color and some may even be golden in color. You may observe white patches anywhere on their body.
Dwarf Campbell's Russian Hamster
Dwarf Campbell's Russian hamsters are found in the semi-desert areas of Central Asia, Mongolia, Altai Mountains, and Northeastern China. They measure only 8 to 10 cm and have a brownish color with a distinct stripe on the spine. They have a round, plump body and furry feet. These are very social animals and great as group pets. They are nocturnal and may show short bursts of activity during the daytime. They show a hierarchical structure when kept in groups or pairs. The one that dominates the other hamsters elicits a gesture of submission on its hind legs in the corner of the cage. They may give you a nip if handled without care.
Roborovski hamsters are the smallest hamster breed, as they are just about 4 to 5 cm in length. These are short-tailed dwarf hamsters and have a yellow brown color with striking whiskers. They are also the most playful and active of all hamsters. You need to give them a large cage and lots of play things to maintain agility. They do not like to be held and cuddled, and thus are not suitable for children. They can live in groups of the same gender. Their life span is up to 3 years.
You will find that each hamster has its own individual personality and needs. Although low-maintenance pets, hamsters are a big responsibility. You need to give them enough living space and keep them in an area with minimum disturbance during the day. This is because they are nocturnal animals and need their sleep during the day. Do not keep the cage under direct sunlight, or your hamsters will be dehydrated. Keep away all the other pets you may have, and make sure that they are not eaten up by the cat. If you get a hamster as a pet for your child, then make sure that he/she is ready to take good care of their new companion.