Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Identify What Kind of Hamster You Own

Children often find hamsters to be entertaining.

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Hamsters have a widespread reputation as a good first pet for children to help them learn the responsibilities involved in animal care before taking on a larger pet. They're small and relatively inexpensive to house and feed, and quickly grow accustomed to being handled by humans. The various hamster breeds have different characters and needs, so it's helpful to know what variety you own.

Related Searches: Hamster Breeds

Although there are many hamster species in the wild, only five are commonly kept as pets. The most common pet hamster in the United States is the Syrian hamster. The remaining four breeds are all dwarf varieties. The most popular in U.S. pet stores is the Campbell's Russian. It is closely related to a second variety, the Dwarf White Russian. The two are difficult for novices to distinguish. The Roborovksi is the smallest of the dwarf varieties and the Chinese hamster is more rat-like in appearance.


The Syrian hamster is the easiest of the five common hamster species to identify. It's the largest of the breeds sold as pets, growing up to six inches in length. Its fur tends to various shades of red and gold, often varied with a pattern of white or pale fur. Often labeled in pet stores as a golden hamster due to the color of its fur, long-haired varieties are sometimes called teddy bear hamsters. Some stores describe them as "fancy" hamsters. Syrian hamsters are solitary creatures in the wild and don't take well to sharing a cage with other hamsters.

Dwarf Cambell's and White Russian

The Campbell's and White Russian varieties are the most problematic for novices to distinguish because they are closely related and have a strong physical resemblance. Both are sometimes sold as Siberian or Djungarian hamsters, which only adds to the confusion. Campbell's will grow up to four inches in length, while White Russians are typically shorter by a half-inch to one inch on average. Campbell's also grow fatter in captivity, making them look bulkier. The Winter White, as its name suggests, grows white fur in winter but won't always do so in captivity. However, its fur is lighter in color than the Campbell's.

Roborovski and Chinese

The Roborovski is the smallest of the commonly sold dwarf species, with adults averaging approximately two inches in length. They are an especially active breed and can quickly escape if let out of their cage. Unlike the Syrian, they're highly social and flourish in groups as long as they're raised together. The Chinese hamster is a representative of an entirely different species, collectively referred to as "rat-like" hamsters. As the name suggests, they have a somewhat rat-like appearance with a more prominent tail and a slender, elongated body. Like Syrian hamsters, Chinese hamsters are best raised without cage mates.

ReferencesPet Web Site: Hamster Dwarf Hamsters! Siberian, Russian or Djungarian?Hamster Club: Hamster VarietiesPhoto Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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