Hamster Breeds to Choose From

Hamster BreedsThough a hamster does not resemble a bear in any way, it is known by names like panda bear, black bear, honey bear, and even polar bear. And though it has no dog characteristics, some of them are called dalmatian, and some go by the name teddy bear. They get these various names from their coloring.

A hamster is a rodent, and is the most popular among rodent pets. In the wild its population is apparently depleting but it is bred well in captivity and is kept as a pet and used extensively in laboratory experiments. Its toys like hamster wheel and hamster ball help the animal in exercising well and maintaining health even in captivity. It is crepuscular in its natural habitat, meaning that it is active during the twilight hours of early morning and dusk. But when reared by humans, it is seen to be nocturnal.

Among the many species of hamsters, the one most popular as pet is the golden hamster, also known as Syrian hamster. Like all hamsters they have large cheek pouches but have a short tail. They make playful pets but they are highly territorial and will not tolerate the presence of another hamster anywhere in their vicinity. When they are babies they can be kept together but as soon as they grow up – which is normally within four or five weeks – they will attack each other. So they have to be separated before that. Originally Syrian hamsters were only golden in color, but later have evolved to become black, grey, white, and cream-colored, and spotted and banded. These variations have given them their multiple names.

Russian dwarf hamsters also make good pets and there are three types of Russian dwarf hamsters for pet owners to choose from. These are Winter White Russian dwarf hamster, Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamster, and Roboroski’s dwarf hamster. The first two are more or less similar in size and characteristics whereas Roboroski’s dwarf hamster is very small and does not grow more than 2” in size.

Winter White Russian dwarf hamsters are quick and agile and they are not territorial like golden hamsters. So they can be kept in groups. An interesting characteristic of these hamsters is their power of camouflage. They become white in winter to escape from predators by becoming invisible in the midst of the white snow. So far as a hamster is exposed to sufficient sunlight, it will retain this characteristic even in captivity. But if they are continuously exposed to artificial light sources, they will lose that ability.

Though not as small as Roboroski’s dwarf hamster, Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamsters are also small, growing only up to 4”. If they are raised together when they are young, these hamsters interact well with other hamsters, and so can be kept in groups. If they become frightened, they may nip the person holding it. Like golden hamsters, they have also evolved into many colors.

Chinese hamsters have an elongated body and are quite similar to a mouse in appearance. They are timid and easy to handle, but like golden hamsters, they are also highly territorial, and cannot be kept in groups.