So, you’re in the market for a cute pet hamster and don’t know which one to choose, right? Well, have no fear! We’ve got your back.
With the various hamster types on the market today, trying to pick one can be a truly overwhelming process.
That’s why we created this little guide on hamster types to help you choose the one that’ll suit you best.
Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to choose the best one for your lifestyle. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Though they’re all tiny, cute, and relatively similar, there are actually more than 20 different hamster species out there.
Each type has its own shape, size, fur color, and temperament, but they’re all related to rats, voles, and lemmings in one way or another.
You can find these cute guys worldwide as they aren’t endemic to one area. For example, you can spot one in the Syrian desert, Chinese plains, or the snowy Siberian provinces.
Oddly enough, though, of these 20 or so species, only a few are considered actually domesticated and live with humans as pets!
As mentioned above, there are a few hamster species that humans managed to domesticate and turn into the cutest pets, including the following:
If you haven’t guessed from the name yet, dwarf hamsters are a small-sized breed of hamsters—especially the Winter White Russian ones.
A Winter White Dwarf hamster, also called Siberian hamster or Striped Dwarf hamster, is around 3–4 inches long and weighs just about 1–2 ounces.
One of the most distinctive features of this hamster is its fur coat.
You see, unlike most hamsters, the Winter White Russian can change its fur color from gray to white in winter to blend in with the snow!
Another feature you can recognize them by is the black stripe that runs from the top of their heads to the end of their tails.
Generally, Winter White Russians live around 1–3 years in captivity but can live longer if properly cared for.
Regarding temperament and behavior, these hamsters are super friendly and can even tolerate handling better than other hamsters. So, this could be the one if you’re looking for a cuddly hamster.
Additionally, if you introduce your winter white to a different hamster at a young age, there’s a good chance they’ll get along pretty well.
However, attempting the same thing with an adult Winter White Russian hamster can result in unnecessary stress and maybe even fighting.
Lastly, the one thing you need to remember about these hamsters is that they’re nocturnal creatures.
So, if you value your good night’s sleep, it’s best to keep your hamster enclosure out of the bedroom.
The Campbell’s Russian gained its name from the explorer C.W. Campbell, who was the first to catch one and report it in 1902, Magnolia.
Just like the tiny Winter White, Campbell’s Russian Dwarf hamsters are also incredibly small in both weight and height. They weigh just 1–2 ounces and are 2–4 inches long.
Moreover, they also have a stripe that runs from the top of their head to their tail. Regarding the fur coat color, there isn’t just one color!
You can find Campbell’s Russian hamster in various shades and sheens ranging from black and brown to white and gray.
Unlike the Winter White, though, these hamsters average a lifespan of 2–3 years and can live a bit more if you take good care of them.
As for their personality and maintenance, Campbell’s Russians are super friendly, bold, and low maintenance.
You can handle this hamster without any hassle as long as you’re doing it gently and he doesn’t feel threatened.
Also, they’re nocturnal, like to play in their enclosure with the toys provided and entertain themselves by exploring and digging.
Lastly, these hamsters are some of the few species that aren’t entirely aggressive towards their kind—something which most hamsters are known for.
This means you can introduce a same-sex friend or create a small hamster group without too much concern!
The Syrian hamster is one of the most popular pet hamsters worldwide. These little fellas are also known as golden hamsters or teddy bear hamsters, as they have beautiful, fluffy, golden brown fur coats.
When compared to the previous hamsters on the list, you’ll notice this one is a tad bigger.
A Syrian hamster weighs around 5 ounces and can reach 5–9 inches long—that’s almost double the measurement of dwarf hamsters!
As you can tell by the name, Syrian hamsters are usually found in northern Syria and southern Turkey as well.
From there, they spread to the rest of the world, and humans started keeping them as pets. Generally, Syrian hamsters can live around 2–3 years in the wild and 3–4 years in captivity.
Regarding their behavior, Syrian hamsters are primarily active during the night and tend to sleep or lounge during the day.
That’s why we don’t recommend keeping the enclosure in your bedroom, as your hamster’s activity might keep you awake.
Another aspect to remember about Syrian hamsters is that they’re very territorial.
That’s to say, you can’t place another roommate with your hamster in the enclosure—whether it’s the same species or not.
The next hamster on our list here is the Chinese hamster, also known as the Chinese Striped hamster or Chinese Dwarf hamster.
Despite being called dwarf, these hamsters don’t actually belong to the dwarf variety. In truth, this mostly happened because of their small size!
Chinese hamsters are around 3–5 inches long and weigh 1–2 ounces. They also have a long dark stripe that starts at their heads and ends down their back.
About the fur color, they’re usually black and gray with white bellies that can be very fluffy!
As for their habits, Chinese hamsters are notorious nocturnal rodents, meaning they’re most active during the night.
They can wake up to eat something or move around a bit during the day, but they’re generally active at night—you know where to put the enclosure by now!
Luckily for us, these cute animals make excellent pets as they’re friendly and don’t mind being held as long as you’ve gotten them used to the action.
If not, you’ll end up with a nervous furball that might nip you!
Now, if you’re looking for something a bit more different than your regular hamster, you should consider getting a Roborovski Dwarf hamster.
Also known as Robo hamsters, these tiny critters are among the smallest species of hamsters, with a lot of energy packed into their little bodies!!
On average, a Robo Dwarf hamster is 2 inches long and weighs just an ounce! Their fur is usually a white or gray color, but there are other variations out there.
Robrovski hamsters used to live in the deserts of central Asia and ran for miles in their natural habitat. Hence, if you decide to get one of these little rodents, you’ll need to prepare yourself for a very active pet.
This can be more troublesome than usual as their size makes them both hard to spot or catch.
Another thing to keep in mind about these hamsters is that they’re not very keen on being handled. So, if you’re looking for a pet that’ll hang out in your hand, this isn’t it.
Finally, while they may be docile, they’re not necessarily friendly and will bite if startled!
Social, friendly, and love to be held! These are all the main characteristics of Ciscaucasian hamsters!
These critters are bigger than the average hamster on our list here, reaching 11 inches in length! However, they hardly pass one or two ounces when it comes to weight.
What makes Ciscaucasian hamsters unique is their beautiful coat, which resembles that of squirrels with its fullness and beautiful color patterns.
They’re usually brownish, with two large strips below their big, round ears near the shoulders.
Though they’re extremely cute, we wouldn’t recommend leaving a Ciscaucasian hamster to roam your home as they’re considered pests.
Ciscaucasian hamsters will devour any plants or seeds you have lying around, leaving you with nothing but a mess to clean up!
Choosing the best hamster isn’t a matter of picking the cutest one but the one that’ll fit your needs and lifestyle. So, you’ll need to consider the following factors:
Do you know how much effort hamsters need to live happily? For starters, you need to search whether the species you like prefer big or small cages.
After you purchase the cage, you need to ensure it has proper ventilation and secure doors and lids to keep the hamster happy and healthy.
Once everything is set up, you’ll need to build a strict eating schedule with meals that contain all the proper nutrition that your hamster will need.
This can take a lot of research and time, as there are many foods out there that could harm your pet.
Lastly, the thing that takes time the most and requires your constant watch is cage—and animal—hygiene.
Hamsters have very active and fast metabolism systems, making them defecate multiple times daily—almost once every hour!
If you don’t have the time to do all this, you should look for a low-maintenance hamster.
Just because hamsters are tiny and don’t take up much space doesn’t mean you can forget all about their personal space!
Of course, you’ll want to have the perfect enclosure for your hamster, but the question is, where to put it?
You see, some of these rodents are pretty active at night, making placing them in your bedroom tough. So, where will it be? Or will you choose a hamster that’s not nocturnal?
Moreover, if you can’t place it in a good spot, you risk the hamster being frightened by children or other pets you might have.
Lastly, the noise levels in the enclosure’s room can seriously affect your hamster, as most of them are incredibly sensitive to loud noises. This means you can’t place them next to a TV or computer!
One thing people always forget before buying a pet is allergies. So they get all excited, bring the animal to their new forever home, and find out they’re allergic to them.
Unfortunately, many animals lose their homes because of this problem. Hence, before you go and get a hamster, test your allergies!
Head to an animal shelter or a pet store and see if you can handle the hamster you like without getting a reaction.
Also, speaking of shelters and stores, you must look up the reputation and credentials of your local ones.
You don’t want to get your hamster from a place that doesn’t take care of them or sells sick animals!
Considering you’ve reached this far, we’re going to assume you’re serious about getting that hamster.
In that case, we hope this guide on hamster types helped answer some of your questions!
To give you a quick recap, there are over 20 hamster species, with less than half of them domesticated.
You have the Winter White Russian, Campbell’s Russian, and Roborovski in the dwarf hamster category.
On the other hand, there are Syrian, Chinese, and Ciscaucasian, which aren’t dwarfs but still small enough to fit in your balm.
Each of these little critters has its unique personality and quirks, but it all comes down to what you want in the end.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.