Hamsters are a common pet for children as they are quite easy to care for, but you may find it difficult to choose between the wide variety of breeds available. Each breed is a little different, the best hamster breed just depends on what you’re personally looking for. Hamsters are nocturnal, but some breeds are awake in short periods during the day to watch or handle. There are also many choices in colours and fur types.
Also known as teddy bear or golden hamsters, the most popular breed for children is the Syrian hamster. They are friendly with people and easy to handle, but are not sociable with other hamsters. This means that you woud usually keep them as an individual pet. As they are completely nocturnal, they aren’t as active during the day as other breeds.
Syrian hamsters come in a shorthaired coat, but you may find the most interesting are the longhaired and satin types. Longhaired Syrians have long, fuzzy fur, with the male coat growing to be especially long, usually 3 or four inches. The satin type also has long fur, but with an ultra-glossy sheen.
Syrian hamsters can grow up to six inches long and live around 2 years.
Points for: suitable for children, many types to choose from
Dwarf Russian hamsters
Dwarf Russian hamsters are not as social with people as Syrian hamsters, and you would require adult supervision with children. However, they do well in pairs or groups, as long as you introduce them as soon as they are bought. They are more active than other breeds, often awake in short intervals in the daytime.
There are two types of Dwarf Russian hamsters, the Campbell and the Winter White. You can find Campbell hamsters in many colours, and they grow to only around four inches. They can be quite nervous around people, and may bite you if they feel threatened.
The Winter White hamsters are more friendly than Campbell hamsters, and have better behaviour around people, without a reputation for biting. They only come in two colours, Sapphire or Pearl. They are also very small, measuring three and a half to four inches when fully grown. This means you may find them more difficult to handle.
Points for: can be bought in pairs or groups
Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters
Roborovski is the smallest hamster breed, growing to a tiny one to two inch size. This means that although they are sweet and rarely bite, you may find them difficult to handle as their agility makes them easy to misplace. This means they are usually only kept to watch, and aren’t usually bought as companions for children. This also means they are usually placed in an aquarium as they can squeeze through small holes in typical hamster wire cages. However, this breed has the longest lifespan, living usually just over three years.
Points for: long life
Chinese hamsters are good natured towards people, and rarely bite. This makes them suitable for children, with the fact that they are active for short intervals during the day, much like the Dwarf Russian hamsters. They are usually kept individually, as they are not very social with other hamsters. Chinese hamsters have a different look than other breeds, being more long and slender a little like a mouse. They can be black, or white with spots, and grow to around four inches like a dwarf hamster. Chinese hamsters live between one and half to two years.
Points for: interesting look, good for children.
Hopefully this information has been helpful to make choosing your hamster easier. As with all pets, it’s important to also make sure you choose a hamster that you get along well with in the shop, as even within breeds hamsters all have very unique personalities. It is also important you learn how to hold and care for your hamster properly, so that you can have the best possible experience owning it.
Enjoy caring for your new pet!
Animal-Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshop where your will be able to see, learn and interact with the hamsters and other wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as rabbits, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more that will be perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about animals and have fun too.