There are several critical factors to consider when determining whether or not a hamster is the right pet for you and your family. There are numerous hamster varieties, and each variety has its own distinct set of characteristics and appearance. While all hamsters live approximately the same amount of time and require similar care, it is critical that you choose the hamster (or hamsters) that are the best fit for you.
Hamsters Come in a Variety of Forms
These are the three most common hamster breeds available in pet stores. Hamsters of different species should never be kept together. Generally, pet hamsters are housed alone, as mature females and males are aggressive toward one another. If you choose to keep multiple hamsters in the same cage, be sure to determine the hamster’s gender and strive for only one. If you keep hamsters of different genders in the same cage, you will almost certainly have hamster babies soon.
Syrian hamsters are the most frequently kept hamsters as pets. These should be kept individually in cages (they will fight if kept together). They are usually quite docile and easy to handle.
Dwarf hamsters (Campbell’s and winter white Russian hamsters, Roborovski hamsters) are more social and are likely to do better when kept with other members of the same species, but they should be introduced as a pair at a young age. They are swift and agile, but a little more difficult to handle.
Chinese hamsters are dwarf hamsters in size but are not true dwarf hamsters. They occasionally get along with other Chinese hamsters, but not always. This type is generally quite friendly, but is also quite swift and agile.
While the expected lifespans of various varieties of hamsters vary slightly, all varieties appear to live for approximately two years.
- Syrian Hamster: Approximately 2 to 3 years
- Campbells Dwarf 1.5 to 2.5 years Russian Hamster
- Winter White Dwarf 1 to 3 years old Russian Hamster
- Hamster Roborovski: 2 to 3 years
- Chinese Hamster: Approximately 2 to 3 years
Dimensions and Habitat (Hamster)
The physical sizes of the various hamster varieties vary quite significantly. Ascertain that you understand how large your hamster is expected to grow and that you have a hamster habitat that is appropriate for your hamster’s size.
- Syrian Hamster: 5 to 7 in.
- Campbells Dwarf 3 inch Russian Hamster
- Winter White Dwarf 3 inch Russian Hamster
- Roborovski Hamster: approximately 2 in.
- Chinese Hamsters range in size from 3 to 5 inches—and, unlike other hamsters, they have a noticeable tail.
You’ll want to choose a cage that is sufficiently large, safe, and easy to clean. Regrettably, standard cages available at pet stores do not fit all hamster varieties. A Syrian hamster will require a cage that is different than a Chinese hamster.
As always, if you have any concerns about the hamster’s breed or specific care requirements, consult your veterinarian.
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