Hamster Breeds

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There are many different kinds of hamster breed, the top 10 most common breeds in the UK are Syrians, Dwarf Campbell Russians, Dwarf Winter White Russians, Roborovski Dwarfs, Chinese, Djungarian, European, Turkish, and South African. Every breed has its own distinctions that separates them from other breeds. Choosing the right hamster for your home is an important decision, you need to consider things such as their lifespan, the amount of space you have available, whether you have allergies, and what type of contact you want to have with your new pet. This guide will help you to understand the most common hamster breeds in the UK so that you can make the important decision of welcoming one as part of the family.

Syrian hamsters

Syrian hamsters are the most common hamsters that are kept as pets in the UK. They are easily handled due to being one of the largest hamster breeds, growing to around 4”-7”. The females tend to grow bigger than the males. Their size and handleability makes them great pets for children. However, they are nocturnal and sleep most of the day. Syrian hamsters come in a range of colours and have a lifespan of around two to two and a half years, although they are known to live until around four years old. A negative about Syrian hamsters is that they cannot be kept alongside other hamsters, they are an aggressive breed and will kill other hamsters in their space when they mature. However, they are affectionate to their human owners, especially if they are handled regularly. They are also quick learners and respond well to training.

Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters

Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters aren’t as good for handling as some other breeds, such as the Syrian hamster, due to their habit of nipping. They can still be handled, but supervision is advised when kids are handling them. They are also nocturnal, although they are awake for slightly longer periods during the day than Syrian hamsters. They are small in size, reaching only around 4”. The most common dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters have brown fur, with a darker strip down the spine, paler sides, and a white stomach. Although due to breeding they do come in a range of colours. This breed of hamster is more social than Syrian hamsters and can be kept in same sex groups as long as they are introduced to each other at a young age. Their average life span tends to be about two years and they are keen burrowers so it is wise to keep them in a deep cage or tank.

Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters

Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters are very similar to dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters, except that they are more handleable and don’t bite as often. They are also slightly smaller than dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters between three and a half inches to four inches. The colours of dwarf winter white Russian hamsters vary from sapphire, pearl, and sapphire-pearl. The average lifespan of a dwarf winter white Russian hamster is also the same at two years.

Roborovski dwarf hamsters

Roborovski dwarf hamsters are also quite sociable hamsters, they do well in small same sex pairs or groups as long as they are introduced at a young age. They are sweet natured hamsters that don’t tend to bite, although they aren’t great for handling due to their small size and agility. They are also nocturnal so they aren’t active during the day. They are sandy brown with a white stomach and white marks on their face. They are very small, only reaching one and a half to two inches, but they have a longer lifespan than most hamsters at three to three and a half years.

Chinese hamsters

Chinese hamsters are best kept on their own as they do not do well socially. Although, they are pleasant natured towards humans and rarely bite. They are mostly active at night, although they do have bursts of activity throughout the day. They grow to around 4” and have long and slender bodies. There are two different colours of Chines hamsters, the most common colour is an agouti coat with a dark brown back, a black strip along the spine, and an ivory coloured stomach. The other colour is a white coat with spots of colour. The average lifespan of a Chinese hamster is around one and a half to two years. 

Djungarian hamsters

Djungarian hamsters are also known as the Russian dwarf hamster. They have a dark gray coat with a dark stripe down the spine and furry feet. They are known to be one of the most friendly hamster breeds available and they grow to around two and a half to three and a half inches so they are not the easiest hamsters to handle. Their average lifespan is one to three years.

European hamsters

European hamsters are large in size, growing from around 8”-13”. They are not typically bred as pets. They have brown dorsal fur with white patches, and their chests and bellies are black. They do tend to be more aggressive than other hamster breeds when they are kept as pets and are therefore not known to be very affectionate or easily handled. They also have a longer lifespan of up to eight years. 

Turkish hamsters

Turkish hamsters are rarely kept as pets due to their aggressive nature, they are not social animals. They are nocturnal animals and are coloured with tan, dark, and sandy brown. They have a lifespan of two years. 

South African hamsters

South African hamsters are docile animals, although they may bite if they are not used to being handled. They are nocturnal animals and are gray/brown in colour. They look rat-like with their long tails and lack of cheek pouches

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