Not All Hamsters Are Created Equal

There are many reasons why hamsters make such popular pets. These tiny, furry animals have been a must have pet over the last few decades in the U. S.. There are many types available. The most popular breed was discovered in Syria. The Syrian hamster was the first to be utilized in a laboratory lab, and first to be trained and kept as a family pet. The Syrian hamster is referred to as the ‘teddy bear” hamster, the golden hamster, and the fancy hamster. It is the largest breed, at a median adult size of 6 inches long. It is a solitary animal and should never be caged with another male or female. Syrian hamsters that are housed together will fight.


After the original discovery of the Golden hamster, new species were found in other parts of the Pacific Rim and the Middle East.

Roborovsky’s dwarf hamster, the Chinese Hamster and Campbell’s dwarf hamster are all ‘dwarf ‘ hamster species and are all commonly found as pet hamsters. These species aren’t technically ‘dwarfs’ but are known as such due to the smaller size relative to the Syrian hamster. Campbell’s petite hamster has little ears and a narrow dorsal dark fur stripe down its back. The Roborovsky’s dwarf hamster, or ‘Robo’ hamster, is the tiniest of the dwarf breeds. It has white fur patches above both eyes and does not have the dorsal dark fur stripe found on other midget breeds. The Chinese hamster is longer and thinner than the other types of hamsters and is often said to look more like a mouse than a hamster. It is also the only hamster species that have a long prehensile tail.

Other Breeds

Different strains of Goldens also exist, for example. the Angora hamster, which is well known for males that have a beautiful, rich looking fur coat. The black bear is comparable to the Angora, differing in the sense that the coat colour is black, and personality is much more owner friendly.

Breed Differences

Differences between hamster species and breeds is essentially the overall size, coat and colour. Biology and behaviour are the same between the different types of hamsters, with a few exceptions. The biggest difference between the Syrian hamster and the dwarf is size. The Syrian hamster reaches an average adult size of 6 inches in length. The dwarf species only grow to, on average, 2-3 inches in length, making them half the length of the Syrian. The other significant difference between the Syrian and the dwarf breeds is that, while the Golden is a strictly solitary and should not be housed with others, the dwarfs are more social and will endure being housed with others. Nonetheless, all hamsters should be monitored closely for assertive behavior when kept together, particularly when originally introduced.

Cathy “cat” Doggins has authored multiple articles on pet care information. When not caring for her dwarf and Syrian hamsters, Cathy helps as a volunteer at local pet shelters and cares for her growing collection of dwarf and golden hamsters.

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