5 of the Most Popular Hamster Breeds

Golden hamster in cage


Themistokles Konstantinou / EyeEm / Getty Images

Are you thinking of getting a hamster? These adorable little creatures no doubt can make fun, entertaining pets.

Some hamster breeds make perfect solo pets, while others are comfortable living in a group. If you're looking for a hamster to hold and interact with, some breeds are better suited for this, while others prefer to play on their own. With a little research, you can feel confident picking out your new furry friend from these five popular pet hamster breeds.

  • 01 of 05

    Dwarf Roborovski (Phodopus roborovski)

    Dwarf Roborovski (Phodopus roborovski) hamster on wheel

     
    Anyarnia / Getty Images

    The smallest of the popular hamster breeds, the Roborovski Dwarf hamster matures to just two inches long. On average, these hamsters live about three years. They have sandy brown fur with white bellies and white markings around their eyes. Because this breed is so tiny, it is best to use an aquarium with a mesh topping to house these hamsters. Wire cages can have openings too large to hold them.

    With their tiny size comes quick movements. The Dwarf Roborovski is an agile breed and loves to be active. Be sure to provide this hamster with plenty of toys and activities.

    These hamsters can be handled, but are happiest when left alone. Their tiny size and agile nature mean that they can easily wriggle out of your grasp and get lost. They can be social and do well in same-sex groups, as long as they are properly introduced.

    If you would like to own multiple hamsters, the Dwarf Roborovski is a great choice. Just be sure you provide enough toys for everyone as they don't like to share!

  • 02 of 05

    Campbell’s Dwarf Russian (Phodopus campbelli)

    Campbell's Dwarf Russian Hamster

    LHJB Photography / Getty Images

     

    The Campbell’s Dwarf Russian hamster grows to a maximum of four inches and has an average life expectancy of two years. They sport grayish-brown fur, white belly fur, and a darker stripe down their backs. They are also known for their furry feet.

    This is another social breed that can be kept in same-sex groups as long as the hamsters are properly introduced. The Campbell’s Dwarf Russian hamster is a quick little animal and may be prone to nip if they feel threatened or frightened. Don’t let this scare you off, though. They are still friendly hamsters and do not mind being held properly. Though nocturnal, these hamsters may wake for short times throughout the day.

  • 03 of 05

    Syrian (Golden) Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)

    Syrian (Golden) Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)

     

    mu_mu_/ Getty Images 

    Also known as Golden or Teddy Bear hamsters, the Syrian hamster is the most popular pet hamster, especially for children. They can be anywhere from four to nine inches in length and have a lifespan of two to four years. Through selective breeding, you can find this hamster in a wide range of colors and coat lengths, though typically they are golden-brown and white.

    The Syrian hamster is the best breed for handling. It is easy to tame and is the least likely to bite. Though docile to humans, they are very territorial towards other hamsters and should always be housed alone. They cannot be housed in groups or intense fighting will occur. Some hamsters will even fight to the death.

    The Syrian is true to its nocturnal nature and is rarely active during the day. Early morning or late evening are the best times to interact with this hamster.

  • 04 of 05

    Dwarf Winter White Russian (Phodopus sungorus)

    Dwarf Winter White Russian hamster (Phodopus sungorus)


    Vichai Phububphapan / Getty Images 

    The Dwarf Winter White Russian is similar to the Campbell’s Dwarf Russian hamster. They are typically three and a half to four inches in size and live around two years.

    Though they are similar to Campbell’s, the Winter White Russian have rounder bodies with shorter faces. They have dark gray fur, white bellies, and a black stripe down their backs. As their name suggests this hamster has a unique feature in that its fur has the ability to turn white in winter!

    The Dwarf Winter White Russian is very docile and is less likely to bite than many other hamster breeds. However, this does not mean they are slow-moving and calm. Instead, they are quick and agile which can make them difficult to handle for children.

    This hamster breed can be kept in same-sex pairs or groups as long as they are properly introduced at a young age. However, even hamsters raised together can turn territorial and may need to be separated when older.

    Because this breed is very small, an aquarium tank with a mesh topping makes the best enclosure. Hamster cage bars are often too big, meaning your hamster could escape.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Chinese Hamster (Cricetus griseus)

    Chinese Hamster (Cricetus griseus)

    zevei-wenhui / Getty Images

    The Chinese hamster tops out between three and five inches in size. They can live up to three years and are typically seen with brown fur and a black stripe down its back, with lighter colored fur on their underside. They also have longer tails than most hamsters.

    This breed is known for being friendly and comfortable with handling. However, this is only true if they are consistently tamed and handled from a young age. If they are not accustomed to being handled, they can be timid and nervous, which can lead to nipping.

    Their tiny size and quick movements mean that this hamster can easily squirm out of your hands. Always be cautious when handling a hamster and be aware of how high you are holding them. Staying close to the floor will help avoid any long falls for your pet.

    Because of their friendly nature, the Chinese hamster is another breed that can be kept in same-sex groups or pairs.

Of course, regardless of the breed of hamster you have in mind, it is important to consider whether you have the right environment and time to devote to owning one of these small furry pets. If you already have lots of cats or dogs that have an overly-keen interest in small furries, or you have a noisy household with young children that may struggle to handle these fragile pets gently, then maybe it is time to reevaluate.