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The Different Types of Hamster

The Different Types of Hamster

Hamsters are a good beginner pet because they are quite easy to care for and require no grooming. They are friendly and are very easily tamed, and love playing and socialising. With lots of energy and a curious mindset, it’s no wonder that hamsters are quickly becoming Ireland’s favourite small pet.

There are many different types of hamster, but in this blog post, I’ll be talking about the three most common breeds; Syrian, Dwarf and Roborovskii.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, small and exotic pet vet, posing with a bunny patient

Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.

He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.

He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!

Syrian Hamster

Syrian hamsters are a large species of hamster, growing up to 18cm. They are the most popular type of pet hamster, and are usually golden brown, grey, black, yellow or red in colour. These hamsters tend to be easier to tame than other species, but they prefer to live alone; and will fight with others if kept together. So if you have more than one Syrian Hamster, it is a good idea to have a cage for each. Their lifespan is 2-3 years.

syrian hamster

Dwarf Hamster

Dwarf Hamsters are much smaller than Syrian Hamsters, but they are also much more active so will need lots of space in their cage. The three types of dwarf hamster are Chinese, Siberian (also known as Winter White), and Campbells.

  • Chinese: These hamsters have a longer tail than other breeds of hamster. They are good for children but must be supervised as they can escape easily. They get along with other hamsters but prefer living alone. Lifespan is 2-3 years.
  • Siberian (Winter White): The second-smallest breed of hamster. Their fur changes colour from white in the winter to grey during the summer months. They can be difficult to handle, so I would no recommend them for small children.
  • Campbells: Due to their agility and speed, they can be challenging to handle. They are prone to nip or bite if they feel threatened, so it is essential they are handled gently. They are however very sociable creatures, and should get along fine with other Dwarf hamsters. They are more suited for families with older children. Lifespan is 1-2 years.
chinese dwarf hamster
Chinese Dwarf Hamster
siberian or white winter dwarf hamster
Siberian Dwarf Hamster
campbells dwarf hamster
Campbells Dwarf Hamster

Roborovski Hamster

These hamsters are the smallest breed, growing to only 5cm in size. They are more inclined to bite or nip, so make sure they are handled carefully. For this reason, I would not recommend them for families with young children. Their lifespan is 2-3 years. They can live together in a pair or groups of the same sex. These types of hamster make good pets for older children or adults.

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