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5 Hamster Breeds That Make Great Pets (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Are you considering getting a hamster? There’s certainly a lot to love about these diminutive rodents, from their generally hygienic natures to their friendly personalities.

But deciding on which type of hamster might be best for your home can be a challenging task. We’ll be breaking down the five different breeds of hamsters you might consider keeping as a pet. After looking at the size, life span, and temperament of each breed, you’ll be able to decide which is best for your unique home.

The 5 Popular Hamster Breeds for Pet Owners

1. Syrian Hamster

  • Size: 6-7 inches
  • Lifespan: 2-4 years
  • Temperament: Friendly towards humans, but territorial towards other hamsters

As the most common of all types of pet hamsters, Syrians are also the largest and longest-lived. Known as the “golden hamster” or “teddy bear hamster”, they are renowned for their friendly demeanors and the ease with which they can be trained.

If you’re considering bringing multiple hamsters into the family, you’ll usually need to give each Syrian its own space. While extremely friendly towards humans, this breed has a tendency to get very territorial when sharing space with another hamster.

2. Roborovski Hamster

  • Size: Around 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 3-4 years
  • Temperament: Energetic but shy

Also called a Russian Dwarf hamster, these pint-sized pets are native to the desert areas of Northern China and Mongolia. The “Robo” gets its name from one Lieutenant Vsevolod Roborovski, who popularized the breed in 1894.

This hamster’s diminutive stature makes it a popular option among people with limited space for pets in their homes. Though they will be shy and nervous at first, their naturally energetic natures will eventually encourage them to open up and play with their owners.

3. Campbell’s Hamster

  • Size: 3.5-4.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Temperament: Nervous with a tendency towards aggression

Another of the Russian Dwarf hamsters, this breed was named after biologist Charles William Campbell who collected the first specimen in 1902. Their shorter life span is mostly a result of their tendency towards developing diabetes.

They are native to Northern Russia, China, and Central Asia. Less popular as a pet, this breed is easily startled and tends to bite when scared.

4. Winter White Hamster

  • Size: 3-4 inches
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Temperament: Nervous but gentle and affectionate

The last of three breeds of Russian Dwarf hamsters, these snow-white rodents are native to Southwest Siberia and Eastern Kazakhstan. With a sweet and mellow disposition, they crave socialization but also tend to be somewhat timid when placed in a new environment. Given enough time, they make kind and affectionate pets.

5. Chinese Hamster

  • Size: Around 4 inches, plus a long tail
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Temperament: Friendly and easily bored

The least popular as pets of the dwarf hamsters, the Chinese hamster is actually a different genus from the other dwarves. The most notable visual difference is that the Chinese has a much longer tail than any other breed of hamster. It’s got a friendly nature and is very unlikely to nip, but needs lots of activities and stimulation.

Falling somewhere in size between the Syrian and Dwarf hamsters, the Chinese hamster is from a different genus entirely than the other breeds mentioned in this guide — a fact that is easily noticeable because of its long tail.

Native to Mongolia and Northern China, the Chinese hamster tends to be very sociable and sweet with its owners. However, they need much more stimulation and activity than other hamsters, which is often why they are a less popular option as a pet.

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Final Thoughts

Did you know that all these different hamster breeds were available to keep as pets? While individual hamsters can certainly possess their own unique personalities, choosing a breed whose temperament fits in your lifestyle is a great first step when considering adopting a hamster. We hope that you find the perfect hamster for your home!

For more on Hamsters check out these posts:

Featured Image Credit: Pxfuel

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.