There are technically over 18 different hamster breeds, but many of them are found out in the wild. Five hamster breeds are considered the most common, and these are the ones kept most often as pets. These breeds include Dwarf Campbell Russians, Dwarf Winter White Russians, Roborovski Dwarfs, Syrians, and Chinese hamsters. All of these breeds have their own unique characteristics.
Syrian hamsters, sometimes called golden hamsters, are night creatures and usually need to be kept alone after the first two months of life. They are the most common hamster breeds to be kept as pets, and are considered very docile. Their lifespan is typically about two years, but sometimes these hamsters can live as long as four years. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and they are the largest breed, growing up to seven inches (17.78 cm) long. Their tail is very short, their eyes are small, and they have pouches in their cheeks to store food.
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Chinese hamsters are similar to Syrians, but they are not quite as anti-social. Although they grow no longer than four inches (10.16 cm), they are not actually dwarf hamsters. Their body resembles a rat or a mouse, and their coats are either black with a stripe and white stomach or white with spots. They live about two years.
Dwarf Campbell Russians are small and usually only reach four inches (10.16 cm) in size. They are social and can be kept with other hamsters. Coats can be different colors, but are often gray-brown on the top with a white stomach and a dark stripe down the middle of the back. Their sides are often a creamy complexion. They can be kept as pets but may bite when nervous, and they live about two years.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters are similar in size and nature to Dwarf Campbell Russians, but they don’t bite when nervous. Their coats are either a purple gray, pearl, or a mixture of the two. They live about two years and are very small and quick.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters are nocturnal and typically have a good disposition. They are quick and slippery, which makes them hard to handle. Like the other dwarfs, they are pretty social and can be kept together. Their coat is a light-brown and they have a white belly. They typically live longer than the other hamster breeds, usually around three to four years.