As a parent you might be a little hesitant about getting your child its first pet. They are a lot of responsibility, they can be expensive to feed, they might need a big back yard, and what about vet bills? These are all valid concerns, especially if you get a larger pet, but how about a hamster? They cost almost nothing to feed, very little to buy at the pet store, don’t need a backyard at all, and if they get sick and die, you can buy another one that’s identical. Plus, they are incredibly cute, naturally friendly, and only live about thee to four years on average, not a long-term investment. Here is some information about the various breeds of hamsters and what you can expect as an owner.
There Are Actually 20 Breeds Of Hamsters
But you’re unlikely to find all of them at the local pet store, in fact, few pet stores will have more than two or three. That’s because many hamsters are very similar, other than their colors, and not all of them are bred and sold to the local pet store.
However, even though lots of them are similar, there is also a wide variance in sizes between some breeds, and some have different personality traits that are carried through the entire breed, not just one animal.
First, The Syrian or Teddy Bear Hamster
This is the most popular breed and the one that you’re most likely to find at the pet store. They are goldish-tan and white in color and you’ve probably seen one or more in your lifetime. They first came to the US when used as animals in the lab, but quickly found their way into people’s homes and hearts because of their cuteness.
These are very friendly pets and are considered great with kids. It’s very rare to find one that has a bad disposition, they are just naturally nice. They don’t get along well with other hamsters though, it’s because they live alone in the desert and protect their food and territory fiercely because there is very little food to be found. They can be up to 7 inches in size making them one of the largest hamster breeds. Although the most common color is golden-tan and white, people are now breeding them to be other colors.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters
These pretty little fur balls are quite beautiful. They are sometimes called the Siberian hamster too, since that is the part of Russia where they originated. Since they are considered a dwarf hamster, they are a very small breed topping out at about three inches.
Because of their small size they are able to escape from some of the normal hamster cages made of wire. They do OK in an enclosed plastic habitat or an aquarium with a lid.
Since they are very active, they certainly need a running wheel and they’ll use it much more than other breeds. They also do well in a hamster ball but it will have to be one of the smaller ones for them to be able to push it around. These dwarf hamsters are very friendly and don’t mind sitting your hand all rolled up into a ball sleeping. But, because of their small size you’ll have to be careful handling them as well.
There are also Roborovski dwarf hamsters known for being incredibly fast runners that will wear out a hamster wheel in record time.
They don’t like to be held and will try to escape so they aren’t as great for pets.
The Chinese hamster is another breed known for being hard to handle. They immediately try to get away, and most of the time do, so you can’t have them out of their cages to play with.
Hamsters are the cutest, cheapest, most lovable little pets for a kid to have. They don’t take much maintenance, food is cheap, and they don’t get lonely. The most cost is the cage, water bottle, and food dish that you buy up front. After than is all loves and cuddles.