Parents often choose a hamster for their child's first pet. Hamsters are small, cute and entertaining, but some breeds make better pets than others.
Although there are several hamster breeds, most of them live in the wild. There are five breeds that are kept as pets. The five domestic hamster breeds are the Syrian, Roborovski, Chinese, Campbell's Russian Dwarf and the Winter White Russian Dwarf.
The Syrian hamster is the largest breed. Although colours may vary in most breeds, the Syrian hamster is most commonly known for its golden colour. The Winter White Russian Dwarf has a blue or grey/brown coat that turns white in the winter, hence the name. Chinese hamsters have a long, thin body and tail.
Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and need to be kept alone. The Russian Dwarf species as well as the Roborovski hamsters may live together peacefully but must be introduced at an early age.
Chinese hamsters are considered an exotic animal in some areas, and a permit may be required to keep them as pets.
Syrian hamsters are the best pet breed for children. Russian Dwarfs can be difficult to handle due to their small size. Chinese hamsters can be nervous, whereas the Roborovski breed is extremely fast.