Hamsters as pets: What types of hamsters are there?
There are various types of hamsters that have different characteristics and attitudes. Read here about the many variants in which the small rodents suitable as pets can be found.
The coat of the Djungarian hamster is partially or completely white in winter – Shutterstock / Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova
Hamsters can basically be divided into three groups: medium-sized hamsters, short-tailed dwarf hamsters and gray dwarf hamsters. The most important representatives of the domesticated hamster species are listed below. Other species result from different breeding forms.
Golden hamster: pet in many breeding forms
The golden hamster comes from Turkey and belongs to the middle hamster genus. The following breeding forms have now emerged from the original golden hamster:
● teddy hamster
● Angora hamster
● Rex hamster
● Satin Hamster
● Russian hamster
● Silky Hamster
● piebald hamster
The golden hamster reaches a size of around 15 to 18 cm and, like all hamster species, is nocturnal and a loner.
Keep the golden hamster in a cage that is at least 100 by 40 cm. Although hamsters like to climb, they also fall down easily. So prevent the animal from climbing higher than 30 cm. You can use small animal litter, corn litter or hemp litter as bedding. Do not use plastic in cage design, it can be toxic to animals if they chew on it. Choose natural materials, such as untreated wood, cork bark or stones. Feed the golden hamster grain, hay, animal protein and fresh vegetables.
Djungarian hamster: No heat, please!
The Djungarian hamster comes from Central Asia, northern Russia, northern China and northern Kazakhstan and belongs to the genus of short-tailed dwarf hamsters. He is about 10 cm tall and weighs 45 g. Its fur on the back is gray with a dark streak or pure white. The rodent is white on the belly side. Of all dwarf hamsters, this species is the easiest to tame.
The Djungarian hamster needs a cage with a floor area of at least 30 by 70 cm. Like all hamsters, this species must be able to exercise its urge to move, otherwise behavioral disorders and health impairments are inevitable. A well-structured enclosure with stones, cork bark and apple tree branches is ideal for this. The Djungarian hamster does not tolerate high temperatures, at room temperatures above 30 °C health problems begin, from 36 °C the animal can die. This hamster loves to nibble on young grass, giving it important nutrients. Basically, the Djungarian dwarf hamster needs between 15 and 20 percent animal protein such as yoghurt or quark in order to build up its cell structure through eating.
Roborowski dwarf hamster: the rodent with the white “eyebrows”
The origin of the Roborovsky dwarf hamster can be found in the Gobi desert, in northern China and in Mongolia. The animal, which belongs to the short-tailed dwarf hamster genus, is the smallest hamster kept as a pet. He is about 5 to 6 cm tall, very agile and very nervous. The upper side of its fur is light brown and the underside is white. A bicameral border separates the top and bottom. The white areas above the animal’s eyes are particularly striking.
The rodent prefers to live as a loner. Caution when kept in pairs or groups: The Roborowski dwarf hamster quickly suffers from stress from its fellow hamsters without showing it loudly to the outside world. In many cases this ends fatally. Otherwise, this species loves to walk and dig in the sand. So design a cage with a floor made of fine quartz sand. Add four bowls of more absorbent sand in the corners for the dwarf hamster to urinate into. Further design options are offered by cork bark and apple tree branches as hiding places for rodents.
Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters: Difficult to tame
The Campbell dwarf hamster is native to Mongolia, northern China and southern Siberia and belongs to the short-tailed dwarf hamster genus. This species is very similar to the Djungarian hamster, measuring around 10 cm in size and weighing 45 g. The coat is light gray with a brown-gold tint. The eel line and the three-arc line are present as in the Djungarian. Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are relatively difficult to tame. Some specimens are so fond of biting the fingers of their owners that they are best handled with leather gloves.
The Campbell dwarf hamster’s cage should be at least 30 by 70 cm. The risk of intense biting and high stress levels when kept in pairs or groups is high. Therefore, this species should also be kept individually.
Chinese Striped Hamster: Long tail and slim body
The Chinese striped hamster originally comes from Mongolia and northern China. It belongs to the gray dwarf hamster genus. The rodent grows up to 12 cm long and has a more elongated, slimmer body shape than the Djungarian or Campbell’s dwarf hamster. His tail is particularly noticeable at 1.5 cm long – the maximum value in the domesticated hamster species. The upper side of the fur is mottled brown and gold and shows an eel line, the underside is as good as white.
The Chinese striped hamster also likes to pinch its keeper’s finger from time to time. A requirement that predestines it more for adults than for children. The optimal housing conditions are comparable to those of the Djungarian dwarf hamster. To accommodate the Chinese striped hamster’s climbing talent, you can equip the enclosure with wall bars or sisal ropes.
You might also be interested in these topics about hamsters:
Djungarian hamsters: species-appropriate husbandry
What do hamsters eat? Nutrition of the cute little animals
Hamster Cage: Tips for Choosing and Setting Up