5 Common Types of Hamsters Kept as Pets

Hamsters are adorable and easy-to-maintain family pets. These two factors attract many first-time pet owners leaving hamsters as a common pet in most homes.

However, there are many hamsters breeds that can be kept as pets making it difficult to decide on which species you should settle with. In general, there are over 18 types of hamsters based on their origin, physical attributes, and personality.

In this article, we will discuss in-depth the 5 common hamster types that you can keep as a first-time pet owner.

The most popular types of hamsters

These are the most popular types of hamsters;

  • Syrian hamsters
  • Winter white dwarf hamsters
  • Campbell’s dwarf hamsters
  • Roborovski dwarf hamsters
  • Chinese hamsters

Syrian hamsters

Syrian hamsters are the most popular breed among the types of hamsters kept as pets. These hamsters are loved for their brimming individual personality. 

The Syrian hamsters are also known as golden hamsters due to their dominant golden-brown color. However, there are variations in other colors, patterns, and coat lengths.

They are also the largest hamster pets making them easier to tame. They grow to a length of between 15-17cm and weigh 85-150g when fully grown. A Syrian hamster has a life expectancy of  4 years at maximum.

Winter white dwarf hamsters

Winter white hamsters originate from snowy regions and are sometimes called the Russian dwarf hamster. Their pure white color helps them blend in their natural habitat making it hard for predators to find them.

When in warm environments, this type of hamster has a dense brown or grey coat. Interestingly, even in captivity, the pet hamster develops a white coating in cold winter months.

Since winter hamsters are prey animals, they are not the easiest hamster type to keep as a pet. To top it up is their relatively small size of 8cm on average and weight of 50g at maximum. They are however very submissive when they get comfortable with the pet owner. The winter white dwarf hamster has a life span of between 18 months to 2 years.

Campbell’s dwarf hamsters

The Campbell’s hamsters were first discovered in Mongolia by Charles William Campbell hence the name. They are often gray-brown with a dark dorsal stripe. You may also find them in opal, black, blue, lilac, or beige.

This type of hamster is friendly and easy to pet when it gets comfortable with you. The Campbell’s hamster can also live well with other same-sex rodents. You should however introduce them gradually to avoid cannibalism

Adult Campell’s dwarf hamsters have a small round body weighing 27g and grow to a maximum of 10cm. The breed has an average life expectancy of 2 years.

Roborovski dwarf hamsters

Roborovski dwarf hamster, also known as the desert hamster is the smallest pet rodent you can have. It grows to a maximum of 5cms and an adult weighs only 24g.

Dwarf Roboronski hamster species are mainly identified by their sandy-brown coating, white belly, and white markings above their eyes that look like eyebrows.

Like most types of hamsters kept as pets, the Roborovski hamsters are very shy. They like to be left alone in open cages with plenty of toys to play with. Robos are also the best choice if you want to keep several hamster breeds since they are social.

Since they are used to desert environments, Roboronski dwarf hamsters are very fast and agile making them difficult to handle. This hamster species live for a period of between 2-3 years.

Chinese hamsters

Chinese hamsters are a common type of pet rodent that originate from the deserts in China and Mongolia. They are easily identified by their long tail which can be up to 3 cm long unlike other common types of hamsters which have a bob tail.

Chinese hamsters’ coat is usually brown with a dark dorsal stripe and a white belly. An adult can grow to a maximum length of 13 cm and weigh up to 45g.

This breed of hamster is very friendly and can be kept in groups without cases of cannibalism. They are also easy to tame and handle when they get used to an individual. They can however easily squirm out of your hands when they get nervous since they are fast and unpredictable.

Chinese hamsters can live for up to 3 years. However, before you own this type of hamster, you should check if it is legal since it is not allowed in some US states.


Which type of hamster is the friendliest?

The Syrian hamster is the friendliest rodent species kept as a pet. It has a bigger body size compared to other hamsters which makes them easy to handle. They are also very predictable and slow to react. Their coat also makes them very attractive.

Can you bathe your hamster?

It is not necessary to clean your hamster with soap and water as you would do with other pets. You can however brush the hamster regularly to avoid matting, especially on its back.

What makes a hamster happy?

Different types of hamsters have different personalities, thus different things may excite them. However, all hamster breeds enjoy a big space with toys and some time alone to play. You should also keep in mind that rodents are nocturnal therefore expect them to be less active during the day.