No small rodent remains quite so popular a pet as the hamster. There are many different types of hamster from which to choose, and each breed comes in various shapes, sizes and colours. Whether a fluffy Syrian hamster, Winter White Russian hamster and or a tiny Roborovski, all have different body shapes, colours and coat patterns.
Syrian hamsters are the most common and widely popular, ranging from 4 to 6 inches in length. Sometimes called golden hamsters, Syrians come in short hair and long hair varieties. The fluffy, longer-haired versions are sometimes called teddy bear or angora hamsters for their fuzzy coats. Their coat patterns are unique and come in virtually every shade of colour. Markings on Syrian hamsters can be banded, in which a white band encircles the middle of the hamster’s body. Dominant spot hamsters have spots of colour all over their coats, from simple black and white patterns to the more colourful calico. Common colours for Syrian hamsters are white, golden or tan, brown, black and any combination of these in a banded or spotted variety.
Russian hamsters are much smaller than their Syrian cousins, at the most 4 inches long. Also called dwarf hamsters, Russian hamsters come in two common varieties, Campbell and Winter White. As the name implies, Winter White hamsters are snowy white or ivory and have three stripes in their coat. Campbell hamsters come in softer shades of grey or brown, often with darker stripes down their backs. Unlike Syrian hamsters, Russian hamsters like living in pairs. Russian hamsters also have slightly larger, rounded ears.
Long, thin Chinese hamsters look similar to Russian hamsters but have tiny prehensile tails and elongated features. They can look mouse-like, but have much shorter tails and different markings than mice. Chinese hamsters can wrap the small tail around a finger or object, as mice do. Chinese hamsters are brownish to grey and have black or dark brown dorsal stripes running down the length of their backs.
Also referred to as the robo hamster, these are the tiniest hamsters, typically around 2 inches in length. A relatively new hamster, Roborovski hamsters are becoming popular but can be difficult to find in pet stores. They come in shades of golden colours and are known for their distinctive, light-coloured eyebrows. Roborovski hamsters are sociable and rarely bite; however, due to their small size and active nature, they can be challenging to handle.
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