Which Hamster Should I Get?

by Hamster Care
getting-a-hamster-1

Which hamster should I get?

Choosing a hamster is a lot like choosing a partner: the most visually appealing option is most of the time not the most compatible choice. In a nutshell, it’s best to choose a hamster that suits your lifestyle, rather than your aesthetic taste, because we strongly believe that all hamsters are equally adorable so you are going to have a hard time if you try to pick a hamster based on cuteness!

This article will specifically feature more in-depth information on the behavioural traits of different hamster species and their respective living needs. Ultimately, we hope that this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to make the right choice for you.

How big do hamsters get?

  • Syrians are obviously the biggest in size, at 120g to 300g.
  • Winter Whites and Hybrids are approximately half the size of a Syrian, at 50g to 70g.
  • Roborovskis are the tiniest, at 25g to 40g.

What type of cage or habitat do hamsters need?

  • Syrians need the most space, with a minimum of 80cm x 50cm.
  • Winter Whites and Hybrids and Roborovskis can make do with a little less, with a minimum of 70cm x 40cm.

Do hamster cages get dirty? Do hamsters smell?

  • Syrians tend to be easier to toilet train.
  • Female Syrians are known to emit a strong musky smell, which some may consider unpleasant. The odour comes from their white vaginal discharge, especially when they are in heat.
  • Winter Whites, Hybrids, and Roborovskis can also be toilet trained, although in most cases only partially. Roborovskis also tend to excrete more urine.
  • Male Winter Whites, Hybrids, and Roborovskis may produce pungent odours with their active scent glands. While the odour will not cling to the hamsters themselves, it tends to permeate the cage very quickly. It is therefore necessary to clean the cage more frequently (i.e. daily spot cleans and a deep clean every 3 weeks).

Can I keep two or more hamsters together?

We strongly recommend housing hamsters separately at all times, regardless of species.

  • Syrians are strictly solitary. Always allocate one cage per Syrian. Never house them together because they will fight to the death.
  • There is a very small chance of keeping same-sex Winter Whites and Hybrids if they are sufficiently bonded, however, this is usually only before they reach adulthood, so separate them once they mature.
  • Same-sex Roborovskis can sometimes be kept together but the possibility of them fighting remains high. Prepare spare cages and immediately separate any bullying/bullied Roborovskis.

How long do hamsters live? What is their average lifespan?

  • Syrians typically live for two years.
  • Winter Whites, Hybrids and Roborovskis can live slightly longer, for around two to three years.

Why do hamsters bite the bars of their cage? What stress signals do hamsters give?

Hamsters bite the bars of their cage for many reasons including stress, cage aggression due to living in a cage that is too small, boredom and possibly with the need to gnaw their teeth down. Whatever the reason, bar biting is not normal nor healthy for your hamster. Consider getting more hideouts, bedding, accessories or… if all else fails – upgrading your cage to a tank or bin.

  • Syrians have a higher tendency to bar bite than dwarves. Their bar biting habit can get noisy, which should be a point of consideration if you are planning to put the cage in your bedroom.

Any additional tips or points to note when I handle my hamster?

  • All hamsters are crepuscular.
  • Syrians go into deep sleep during the day and do not like to be disturbed. Hence, only handle them in the evenings or nights when they are fully awake and active.
  • Winter Whites, Hybrids and Roborovskis may wake up occasionally during the day. Even so, only handle them minimally in the daytime.
  • Taming a Syrian takes considerable amount of effort and time. Once tamed, however, a Syrian is friendly and interacts well with its parent. If you have a Syrian, be sure to interact with them daily.
  • Winter Whites and Hybrids are know to move around more slowly. They are also the most affectionate.
  • Meanwhile, Roborovskis have a reputation for being extremely fast. They are also naturally timid due to their petite size and will readily bite.
  • Dwarves are generally content with staying in their cages, making them suitable for busy working adults.

Are hamsters suitable pets for children?

Caring for your pet hamster can bring your family much joy and memorable moments. But do note that they require more time and effort than you would expect.

  • If you have young children, be sure to constantly supervise all interactions with your hamster.
  • Syrians are generally not suitable for children as the require undisturbed sleep during daytime and bite strongly when aggravated.
  • Winter Whites and Hybrids are typically better with children as they can be handled more frequently and move more slowly. Although their bites are also not as painful, always supervise children’s interactions with hamsters.

It is vital to note that any hamster will bite whenever it feels threatened and afraid. A bite is simply a hamster’s way of defending itself. This defense mechanism is often interpreted as aggression. Instead, make sure you exercise caution and patience, as you would a child and other living animals. Make sure your children understand this point and always mentally prepare them to be respectful and kind to the new family pet!

How often should I clean my hamster’s cage? How do I clean it?

  • For Syrians, deep-clean once every 4-6 weeks, depending on how clean or dirty the cage gets. Spot clean once every 3-4 days, which is relatively easy considering how visible their excrement is. A toilet-trained Syrian may make for fewer deep cleans but more spot cleaning, since their larger bodies also produce more waste.
  • Cages of Winter Whites, Hybrids, Roborovskis require a deep-clean once every 2-4 weeks. The frequency may be higher if they are not toilet-trained.Compatibility with children.

Access to toys and enrichment

  • Syrian-appropriate toys and enrichment are harder to come by. They also tend to cost more as they need to be larger, and even online sites like Carousell, Shopee, or Taobao may not stock many toys large enough for Syrians.
  • Toys for the other dwarf species are more readily available, and can be found in stores such as Carousell and Shopee, or foreign shopping sites like Taobao.

Other concerns

Fun fact! Male Syrians are known for the visibility of their testicles, which some parents are uncomfortable with. Fortunately, there are enough parents who find them adorable.

Now that you are all set to welcome your hamster home, check out our infographic before you swing by the adoption gallery! We are sure you’ll find your perfect Don Ham or Lady Hamiton among our host of attractive candidates. Adopt, don’t shop, and build a forever home with your hamster today!

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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