How To Know What Hamster Breed You Have – Complete Guide

When I first got my Teddy I didn’t know he was a Syrian hamster. I only knew I wanted an orange and white hammy, and I looked around until I found him. But there are 5 distinct hamster breeds, and they can be a bit confusing.

I’m here to help you figure out what kind of hamster you’ve got, so you have all the info you possibly can to take care of your hammy.

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My Teddy is the orange one, with the walnut

So how do you know what hamster breed/type you have ?

The main things to look for when determining your hamster’s breed or type is the size of the hamster, and the color/markings. There are very distinct differences between the hamsters available for purchase.

We’ll get into the different size and color options for all the hamster types in the rest of this article. There are 5 types or breeds or hamster available, and they are:

  • Syrian – the largest, most common hamster
  • Chinese Dwarf – not really a Dwarf type, but still often called that; the only one with a longer tail
  • Roborovski Dwarf – the tiniest, fastest hamster, almost impossible to hold
  • Campbell Dwarf – a bit larger than the Roborovski, often confused with the next breed
  • Siberian/Winter white/Djungarian Dwarf – the only one that changes its coat color according to temperature

Now these 5 types are the ones you will usually find in a pet shop, and they might come under different names or nicknames. It’s important that you know each type so you don’t get fooled at the shop for an overpriced hammy just because it’s called “fancy hamster”. Yes, some people have found hamsters labeled that in a pet shop.

Now let’s find out more about each hamster type, and how to differentiate between them.

All about the Syrian hamster

The Syrian hamster is the most common hamster you will find in a pet shop. It’s also the kind of hamster I have. They’re the largest and most diverse-looking hamster breed out there.

An adult Syrian hammy is somewhere between 5-8 inches in length, which is 13-20 cm. Some can grow a bit larger, but not by much. The size is what you will notice first.

A baby Syrian hamster is about the size of an adult Dwarf type (Robo, Campbell, or Siberian). Even as babies, the males have very large testicles, that will make their rear-ends bulge noticeably.

As for the color options and fur markings, there are plenty. Honestly Syrian hamsters are about as colorful as cats and dogs, except they never have stripes like a cat. Aside from that, they can be a single color, black and white mixes, spotted, ringed, just one spot on the eye, sooty, and so many more colors.

The fur itself can be short/normal, longhaired, or curlyhaired. These as well can have any of the color options you can imagine.

When I got my Teddy I knew next to nothing about hamsters. So I thought an orange hammy with a bit of white on the belly is going to be so unique, and rare.

Well, it turns out that is the most common color you can get a Syrian hammy. Those are called Golden hamster and they’re the classic coloration, the one they have in the wild.

This hammy comes from Syria, and southern Turkey in the wild. At some point, a few managed to populate and thrive in parts of Israel.

All about the Chinese Dwarf hamster

The Chinese hammy is not really a Dwarf type, although most everyone calls him that. Actually all hamster types except Syrian are called Dwarf, by comparison.

But the Chinese is not a Dwarf, he is somewhere in between. As an adult he can reach up to 3-5 inches/8-13 cm, plus the longer tails. Chinese hamsters have a much longer tail compared to any other hamster types, which can grow to be about an inch long/2-3 cm.

Aside from that, the body if a Chinese hammy is longer than the Dwarf types, and more slender than the Syrian hammy. So that, plus the long tail can make the Chinese look more like a mouse than anything else.

There are few color types you can find for the Chinese. The most common one is the wild variety, with a sort of brown down the back, and a dark stripe running down the spine, plus a white belly. You can find a few specks of grey and black here and there on the hammy’s backside.

The other two options are mostly white, with the dark stripe down the back, and very rarely can be all white with a dark spot.

This hammy comes all the way from China and Mongolia.

All about the Roborovski Dwarf hamster

Can also be found under the nickname Robo – short for Roborovski, the scientist who discovered the species. This hamster is the smallest kind of hamster you can ever find. As an adult he won’t grow past 2 inches/5 cm, which makes him incredibly easy to lose, drop, or just barely handle.

This hamster, like the other Dwarf types (except the Chinese) is stout-bodied, and looks like it has no neck. The truth is that the neck is very short, and the ears are the only point you can figure out where the body stops and the head of the hamster starts.

A Robo hammy is usually soft brown on its back, with no stripe down its back. It does still have the white belly like the Chinese, but its feet are furrier. He will usually have a large white spot right above his eyes, where an eyebrow would be. Much like the eyebrow spot of a Rottweiler or Doberman.

You can find all-white Robos, or white with a bit of grey mask, even a nice color combination between white and cream on the back. The breeding process over time gave us a lot of coat options, so you can’t use coat alone to figure out the breed. Still, the Robo is the absolute smallest of the Dwarf hammies.

You can tell a baby white Robo from a Siberian (also often white) by the size. Upon birth Robos are barely an inch/2 cm, white the Siberians are larger.

The Roborovski hamster comes from parts of Russia, and you can sometimes find him as Russian Dwarf. Although all Dwarf types are russian, so there’s that.

All about the Campbell Dwarf hamster

This hamster is larger than the Robo, and reaches about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm. He is very easy to confuse with the Siberian Dwarf, but I’m going to help you distinguish between them.

The Campbell hamster is colored much like the Chinese and the Robo, as in he has the brownish coat on his back, and does have a dark, very narrow stripe running down his back. The belly however is grey, not white, and he has tufts of fur on his feet as well.

There are not many color options or variations for the Campbell hamster. However the cheek pouches of the Campbell reach all the way to his hind legs, and are part of his mouth, not separate.

His coat does not change color from winter to summer, and he is again common throughout Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.

All about the Siberian/ Winter white Dwarf hamster

Just as large as the Campbell hamster, these two can and often are confused. The Siberian has many names, like the Winter White – turning white in winter, in the wild. Or the Djungarian hamster, because of the region in China it usually lives in.

As for size, the Siberian is about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm, which makes it again very similar to the Campbell hammy. However the color is more grayish on its back, with a dark stripe on its back and a darker spot on its head. This hammy has a white belly, and has more color variations than the Campbell.

A Siberian can also be found in all white, or white with a faint grey line down the back, or all grey with darker fur on the back, and all the way to the wild coloring I mentioned above.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

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Which hamster breeds can be kept together

Of all these many kinds of hamsters, not all can be kept together. It’s always a bad idea to mix hamster types, since they have different temperaments.

So it’s the Dwarf types that can be kept together, only under certain circumstances. The Syrian and Chinese hammies will fight everything and everyone you out in their cage, so it’s best to leave them alone.

If you really would like to know which if your hammies can live together, and how to introduce two hamsters to live together – you should read this article on why hamsters fight. You’ll find out more about the social lives of hamsters in general, and what to do if your hamsters start fighting.

The main differences between the hamster breeds

Aside from what I just talked about before, there are a few other differences. There’s temperament, and ease of handling as well. There are also some feeding exceptions to be sure of, so it’s best to read this list of foods you can safely give to your hamster.

The biggest differences are between the types of hamster – the large Syrian, and the smaller Dwarf types. You can find an in-depth article on the differences between a Syrian and Dwarf type right here, so you can find out which would be the best hammy for you.

There is also the matter of cage sizes. The Syrian, being the largest, requires the most space in his cage. For a Syrian the minimum is a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. A dwarf type can live in half that space, but since they are often housed in pairs will require a cage just as large as a Syrian.

If you want to know more about housing hamsters, and what to look for in a cage, you should check out this article. You’ll find the pros and cons of the 3 most common cage types, and how to care for your hamster’s cage.

Which hamster type makes the best pet

When it comes to which hamster is the best pet, this one is really up to you. All I can give you is the info on these 5 hamster types, and you can decide for yourself which you’d like best.

All hamsters can make good pets – if you like a quiet pet, and have a certain amount of patience to tame them. They’re not expensive, aside from the initial purchases like cage, wheel, ball, and so on.

But it really depends on you. All these 5 types of hamster are nocturnal, so if you got o bed early you will miss them. The Syrian is a bit easier to handle and tame, given his size.

The Roborovski shouldn’t even be handled in the first place, since he is so small it’s easy for him to slip through your fingers. They’re best kept to look at, and they do a lot of tricks when they have a cage mate. So do the other Dwarf types, but they’re larger and can be handled a bit easier.

It’s not a good idea to give a hamster to any child. Hamsters need a lot of care and a quick hand to catch them, which kids don’t really have. And hamsters in general need a quiet, calm space to live in. So a very lively home, with small children, and a few other pets that can roam the house freely, is not a good home for a quiet creature like a hamster.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out a lot about each of us hammies, I know we can be a bit confusing at times. I’m easy to spot, since I’m a big orange hammy running around the house, but my friends are so much smaller.

Whichever kind of hamser you get, remember that all of us can be tamed and like your attention. And if you want to know more about us hammies, you can read he articles below for useful information.

Related blog post
5 Reasons Hamsters Chew On Cage Bars – And How To Stop Them
5 Reasons Hamsters Chew On Cage Bars – And How To Stop ThemIs your hamster chewing on his cage bars ? So does mine from time to time, and I know it’s awful to hear, and bad for his teeth. I’ll tel you what I know about how to stop your hammy from chewing the cage bars, and how to prevent it. Keep in mind that some hamsters simply have this habit, and will have their teeth on the bars (or anything else) often, just because. I’ll tell you what to do in those cases too. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters chew on the cage bars ?About rodents and chewing in generalGet your hamster a larger cageA hamster’s teeth are always growingAnxiety/stress is a common issue with hamstersYour hamster needs your attention, or is curious about somethingSome hamsters develop a habit of chewing on the cage barsWhat you can do about the hamster chewingChew toys for the hammyDistract the hamsterExercise the hamsterPlay with the hamsterWhat to do if your hamster just can’t stop chewing on the barsMove the hamster to a glass tankMove the hamster’s cage to a different roomIs a hamster a good choice for a pet ?A word from Teddy So why do hamsters chew on the cage bars ? Hamsters are rodents, so they will chew on everything by default. Still here’s a short, clear list of the main reasons your hamster is chewing on his cage bars: Small cage – this is often a big problem, since many hamsters are kept in tiny cages. Teeth growing – rodent teeth never stop growing, they must always chew and nibble on something . Anxiety/stress – hamsters can develop this habit as a way to cope with something. Need attention/curiosity – hamsters need to see and know everything, and will ask for attention. Habit – they’ve gotten this habit, and it’s going to be hard to unlearn it. Hammies are known to be quiet pets, but having them chew on the bars is incredibly annoying. Aside from being a possible sign of something wrong, it’s also bad for their teeth. Only because the metal is too harsh for their teeth, and they’ll need something softer like wood to chew on. We’ll cover that list in this article, so you know in more detail why hamsters end up chewing on the cage bars. But let’s first talk a bit about rodents and chewing in general, so we understand why this happens from their point of view. About rodents and chewing in general All rodents – hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, squirrels, and so on – have an innate need to chew. Their teeth never stop growing. If they don’t keep an eye on the growth, it can be deadly. So, rodents need to constantly chew and nibble on something. This is normal for them, and is a very good habit to have in order to file down their teeth. But what about pet rodents ? Well, your hamster doesn’t know the sound of his chewing is awful to you. And still, his teeth are always growing and always need to be filed down. Another thing about rodents, they like to try everything out with their teeth as well. Just like baby humans will put random objects in their mouth to ‘learn’ them, rodents will try out things too. It’s just that they’ll never grow out of that phase. So be prepared for this happening again and again. However you can do a few things to lower the chances of your hamster chewing on the bars. Let’s get to those right now. Get your hamster a larger cage One of the reasons, maybe half the time, is that hamsters are kept in way too small cages. The hamsters end up feeling cramped and grumpy. It varies from hamster to hamster type, but the absolute minimum is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That is for an adult Syrian hamster, but I’d recommend it to be the minimum for a Dwarf type as well. Hamsters need a lot of space, they run around a lot, they sprint at the drop of a feather, and will burrow often. That requires more space than you’d think at first. The small, square cages you can pick up at the pet shop – the ones that are most commonly sold when you get your hammy – are way too small. You can find a good guide on hamster cages here. Always go for a bigger cage, with lots of floor space. Hamsters need that space and will become jittery and irritable if they don’t have where and how to run around. Especially if you’re keeping two hamsters in a cage, this is crucial. They need to be able to hide from each other, run away, and have large spaces for themselves if they need to. Otherwise they’ll end up chewing the bars, in an attempt to get away, or escape, or just let out that anxiety and stress. A hamster’s teeth are always growing This is what the problem is most of the time. Hamsters are rodents, so their teeth will always grow. So, they will always need to file them down. There is not much you can do about this, other than giving the hamster chew toys. You’ll find a lot more info on that in the rest of the article. Your hammy will always try to put its teeth on everything. Sometimes to chew, sometimes to try them out. But there are moments when they chewing will happen often. This is when their teeth get sort of growth spurts, and the hammies will feel the instinctive need to chew on something. The best thing to do for a rodent, especially one that you’ve noticed is a big chewer, is to keep it in a large glass tank. There’s nothing to chew there, except for the toys. Anxiety/stress is a common issue with hamsters A hamster is used to hiding and being on alert all day, every day. That means that it’s prone to stress, an stress related illnesses. That also means that they will often need a way to release their stress. Most of the time, the hamster will end up chewing on the hardest surface he can find – the cage bars. He will still use his chew toys, but the hard surface of the cage bars will still be interesting. A few reasons hamsters can develop anxiety and stress can be: being scared too often – they’re very easy to startle being bullied by their cage mate – common problem new home – baby hamsters can sometimes adapt very slowly to their new homes poor housing  – small cage, improper bedding, not enough food, no exercise, could be many things What you can do is to try and make life easier for your hamster. So if your hammy is scared often – by a sudden noise, or the dog looking at them, you need to read this article. Do keep in mind that hamsters scare easily, so some things just can’t be helped. If your hammy is bullied by his cage mate, then you need to separate the two. This is a problem that can come up seemingly out of nowhere, even for hamsters that looked like they were getting along. Always keep an eye on them if you’ve got a pair, Your hamster needs your attention, or is curious about something Hamsters are incredibly curious, and will want to check out everything. Even if they’re scared, they will still try to investigate that sound. Most of the time they investigate or hear things out because they’re listening for predators. But a pet hamster will have the bravery to walk up to the cage bars and try to see and hear and smell why that bag is making those sounds. He will sometimes ask for your attention, even if you’re doing something else and didn’t notice he woke up. In these cases it’s best to give the hamster a bit of attention, but be careful. If you hear chattering teeth, and you see him very aggitated and jumpy, do not touch him directly. A hamster with chattering teeth is not a playful one. He is curious, but has a burst of energy that makes him hard to handle, and prone to biting. Best to play indirectly with him. Like a bit of paper towel through the bars, and a piece of cardboard in his cage, like you would play with a cat. Some hamsters develop a habit of chewing on the cage bars Unfortunately this is a habit very hard to kick. Mostly because it’s sort of addictive for hammies. They love the sound and feel of their teeth on the bars, as much as it might make your cringe. So getting your hamster to let go of something he loves will be incredibly difficult. The best option for this is to remove the bars completely. That means again, putting the hammy in a glass tank. For hamsters that developed a habit of chewing the bars, no matter how large their cage will be, they will find the corners and chew on them. A few things other people have tried – blowing on the hamster, using a paper towel on his nose, or even citrus oil on the bars – do not work. They’re only temporary reliefs, only for a few minutes. The hamster will start chewing again, this time with a vengeance. And in some cases, if you’ve got two hamsters in the same cage, they can copy each other. If one of them starts to chew on the bars, then the other will probably follow suit. If that’s the case, you will probably need to separate them. or move them both in a glass tank. Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. But you need to try everything else before moving him to a glass tank. What you can do about the hamster chewing Here’s a few things you can actually do about your hammy chewing on the cage bars. They will work, some temporary, some permanently, depending on your hamster, and the reason he is chewing. My Teddy still chews the bars every now and then, for a couple of minutes. I usually distract him, and move him to a different room at night anyway, so I do no hear him when I sleep. Chew toys for the hammy You can help your hamster by getting or making him some chew toys, and leaving them randomly around his cage. This means that your hamster will have plenty more opportunities to chew on solid things inside his cage. Often, your hammy will need something wood-based to chew on. The cage bars are too hard for your hamster’s teeth, even if he likes chewing on them. So you’ll need to provide him with some chew toys. You can find a whole article dedicated to hamster toys here, and you’ll get store-bought and DYI ideas as well. Mineral chews are actually not that useful for your hamster. They’re marketed as a chewing aid, and are supposed to bring more mineral content to your hamster’s diet. But the truth is, hamsters don’t need more minerals if they’ve got a good diet already. A pre-made food mix will take care of that. Distract the hamster You can distract the hamster, and this will work most of the time. As in, after you stop paying attention to the hamster it will probably not chew the bars for a few hours, or at least enough time for you to fall asleep. Exercise the hamster Exercising your hammy is probably the best way to get him to distract him. You can do this two ways. First, you can use his exercise wheel. If it’s a wheel he can see through, like a wire mesh one, you can use a bit of paper towel to guide your hamster through his cage, into the wheel. Then, your hamster will try to get to the paper towel or your hand. But if you place it directly in front of him while he is in the wheel, the hamster will end up running trying to get to you. You can do this several times a day, or whenever your hammy seems restless. Do let him get to the paper towel every now and then, to keep things interesting. Second, you can exercise the hamster by putting him in his exercise ball – you can find out more about that here. Once he’s in the exercise ball, let him roam the house as much as he likes, but make sure you don’t go over 30 minutes per session. Your hammy will need some water, and some food, and he can’t find those in the exercise ball. Also make sure that your hammy can’t fall down any stairs, or your other pets will not reach it. A barking, curious dog, or a playful cat will scare the hamster, and will only distress him more. Be warned though, exercise balls can be loud on their own. The hamster will bang it against the furniture, walls, the corner of your coffee table, the door, anything. So you can either proof an area to let your hamster run around, or make peace with the noise. To proof the area, you will just need to cover the surfaces the ball can hit with some textile, like a blanket or towel, to absorb noise. Or, in the case of odd corners, you can just put a slipper in the way and the hammy will not be able to reach that corner. Play with the hamster You can also play with your hamster to distract it. But again, if his teeth are chattering and he has a sort of odd look about him, best to not touch him directly. Give him a puzzle toy – you can find an example here – or use a bit of cardboard to guide him through an obstacle course in his cage. Or, you can pick him up if he seems fairly calm. Let the hamster run over your hands, talk to him, pet him, as you would normally. But if he seems like he’s about to jump out of your hands, make sure you’re every close to his cage. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) What to do if your hamster just can’t stop chewing on the bars Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. If you’ve tried every little thing you can think of, and every other alternative you’ve found in this article so far, and your hamster is still chewing, then it’s time to do something else. Move the hamster to a glass tank Your hamster will not have anything to chew, if he’s in a glass tank. The glass gives him nothing to hold onto, just plain, smooth, straight glass he can’t do anything with. In this case you will need to give your hamster ample wood-based toys to play with. He will chew on every little thing he can get his paws on. The hideout, the toys, the food bowl, in some cases even the water bottle. So, make sure the glass tank is large enough to fit your hamster, or your hamsters if you’ve got more than one. And you can check out this article for bedding and hideout ideas made of wood. You’ll find lots of toys ideas here, and depending on the kind of wheel you had before, it might need changing. You can find more info on the exercise wheel on here. As for where to find an actual glass tank, you can check this Amazon link for an example. It’s the minimum space requirement for a single hamster, and you can look at the reviews as well. Honestly, I recommend getting a glass tank from a pet shop, or somewhere you can actually go and see the tank for yourself. That way the transport can be arranged by you, and you’re in control of whether the glass breaks on the trip home or not. As you know, glass is difficult to safely transport, so it’s best if you’re involved as well. Still, you can check the link above to at least see what glass tanks have to offer, and the price range they’d be about. Move the hamster’s cage to a different room This is a last resort. If you do not want, or can’t afford or fit a large enough glass tank for your hamster, then this is your other option. Glass tanks can’t be moved about as easily as a cage. But a cage can be moved temporarily or permanently to a separate room. If your hamster keeps chewing the bars and he just won’t stop, no matter what, moving him to a different room will at least let you have your peace. There are a few things to keep in mind though, before you move the hamster.The temperature of the room you move the hamster to needs to be constant. Hamsters need a range between 20-23 C/68-75 F to feel comfortable, and anything below or above that range can make them uneasy. In some cases, if your hamster is exposed to sudden, very cold temperatures, it can hibernate. But since it’s sudden, it can be actually deadly for him, depending how long it lasts. You can find more info on hamster hibernation here, and how to save your hammy. So be sure to check up on your hammy every day, to make sure he feels alright in his room. Make sure he is safe from other pets, or overly curious small children. Is a hamster a good choice for a pet ? In this case, after talking about all the ruckus a hamster can make while chewing the bars, you’d think no, they’re not good pets. But the truth is, at least in my opinion, hamsters are actually good pets. They’re quiet most of the time, and will not bother you often. It’s just that they have some very specific necessities – like the chewing and temperature – that can make then a bit iffy. A hamster isn’t as easy to tame – and keep tame – as a dog or cat, and does not respond well to being held wrong or annoyed. So for this reason I’d advise against getting your child a pet hamster, of any kind. Children would need a more mellow, loving pet, like for example a dog that can take on the full force of a kid tackling him, or pulling his tail. You can read more whether hamsters make good pets or not here – and get a more detailed insight on why you need to know yourself and your limits before you get a hamster as a pet. A word from Teddy I hope you got some good ideas here on how to stop one of us hammies from chewing the cage bars. Sometimes we just love to chew the bars, and sometimes we can stop if you give us an alternative. It depends from hammy to hammy. If you want to know more about hamsters, and why we sometimes do odd things, like eat our poop or suddenly freeze, you should check out the articles below. [...] Read more...
A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With Mice
A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With MiceA hamster isn’t all that different from a mouse, or a rat, since all 3 are rodents. You might argue they can all live together, or at least get along during playtime. As it happens, these 3 animals are in fact very similar. But it’s the key differences between them that mean they’re not as good a match. If you want a more detailed comparison between rats, mice, and hamsters, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters live with rats ?Can hamsters live with mice ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the rat’s personalityAbout the mouse’s personalityDifferences in food for hamsters, rats, and miceCage size differences between the 3 rodent typesPlaytime and other habits that might conflictA word from Teddy So can hamsters live with rats ? No, hamsters can’t live with rats. A hamster is territorial, solitary, and will try to attack anything that crosses his path.  A rat is much larger, calmer, and very social, loves to live in groups. However it will bite back if the hamster attacks, and it won’t stop until the hammy is dead. While both the rat and the hamster are good pets, hamsters simply can’t share their space with another. They only seek another soul when they’re ready to mate. Any other time would be a deathmatch. We’ll cover the main characteristics of hamsters and rats in the rest of the article, so you will get a more thorough answer to your question. But if rats being larger are a problem, what about mice ? Good question, let’s look into that.   Can hamsters live with mice ? No, hamsters can’t live with mice either. The hamster is territorial, solitary, and likes to keep his food to himself. A mouse is smaller than a Syrian hamster, but much faster, and agile, and will end up stealing the hamster’s food. If you keep just one mouse and just one hamster, the hamster will end up killing the mouse. The size helps there. However if you’ve got at least two mice and a hamster, they will gang up on the hamster, turning the fight in favor of the mice. It’s really not a good idea to combine hamsters with any other animal. At all. Even another hamster is a bad idea half the time, let alone a different animal. Let’s see why hamster and mice can’t really get along, even if they’re closer in size than rats and hamsters. About the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. About the rat’s personality A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent. That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime. Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them. When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal the hamster’s food if they think it’s tastier, or it’s something they like. Very important to note, rats tend to attack and view as food anything smaller than them. That includes the hamster, and the mouse too actually. Back to the rat’s intelligence, they’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters, and would be able to rick them if they wanted. A bored rat next to a skittish hamster does not sound good. About the mouse’s personality The mice are a bit harder to tame than the rat, since they’re so small and all over the place. They too are social animals, but they need to be in same-sex pairs, female if possible. Male mice can get along, but it’s like with the Dwarf hammies. Only if they were kept together as babies, need a very big cage, and they still might fight. Aside from that, mice have much of the same diet as rats. As in, they can and will eat nearly anything, and will steal bits of food whenever they can. Mice are fairy skittish, and need a lot of patience from their owners when being handled. They don’t jump out of your hands as often as the hamster. But they still can. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Differences in food for hamsters, rats, and mice Food is something these 3 would argue over, and here’s why. While mice, rats, and hamsters are omnivores, hamsters still tend to eat mostly grains and veggies. So giving them the same feed will leave the dietary needs of the other ones unmet. And there will be food thefts, which can become a major problem. A rat stealing from a hamster can make do, although the hamster might fight back. However a hamster can’t really steal from the rat’s food, since it’s made up of slightly different nutrients. So that leaves the hamster at a disadvantage. Also the fact that the rat will protect his food and bite the hamster is another concern. You can’t keep separate food bowls for hamsters, mice, or rats. They won’t know which is which, and will pick out what they like from whichever bowl they find. Hamsters hoard food in their nest, as do rats and mice. However if the hamster feels unsafe in his hideout – and he will, with another rodent – he’ll keep the food in his cheek pouches. This leads to a host of health problems, since those pouches are not meant as permanent storage. Cage size differences between the 3 rodent types Hamsters need a minimum of of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the minimum for a lone, Syrian hamster. A single, male mouse will need a cage of 10 x 12 inches/25 x 30 cm. The same size will work for a trio of female mice. Males need more space of their own, but the larger the space, the more territorial they become. Rats, on the other hand, need a cage about 25 x 12.5 inches/ 63 x 31 cm for one single male rat. The more rodents your have the bigger the space you’ll need, if you want to combine the hamster with either one of them. However I do not recommend putting hamsters in with any other rodent, even if your got them both as babies. They’re very different animals, even if they’re kind of related. Playtime and other habits that might conflict While some things might annoy your hamster, like cleaning his cage, they might be okay for your rat or mouse. Cage cleaning can be postponed for up to two weeks for hamsters, since they won’t smell at all, they only have the one pee corner. Rats and mice habitats become smellier faster, and need regular cleaning once per week at the latest. Playtime is another problem that might come up. Hamsters don’t like being handled all that much, while mice and rats are more comfortable with their owners. Hamsters, mice, and rats alike need lots of exercise to keep themselves occupied. However hamsters are much jumpier than the other two, and will become defensive very fast. So to sum everything up, and give you a very clear answer: Hamsters should be kept alone, not even with another hamster. Keeping a hamster with a rat, or with a mouse might sound like a good idea since they might be similar. But the differences between them will lead to very uncomfortable pets. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies might look related to mice and rats, but we don’t really get along. Rats are too big, and mice too small. And they’re both very social, while us hamsters like to be on our own. Nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters, that’s all. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below to find out how to care for us properly. [...] Read more...
Five Best Ways to Bond With Your Hamster
Five Best Ways to Bond With Your HamsterWe all want our pets to live healthy and happy lives, and in order to ensure that, we have to cultivate a loving relationship with them. This means that we have to bond with our pets. If you have a hamster, bonding may be a little more difficult, as hamsters are relatively untrusting animals that don’t exactly enjoy human touch. This is completely due to evolution, so you shouldn’t blame yourself if your hamster isn’t exactly showing signs of affection. However, there are many ways you can bond with your hamster. It needs to be addressed that hamsters are very frightful animals that don’t really trust anyone, so you should know that your hamster is going to be afraid of you for a very long time. And even after you’ve bonded with your hamster, it’s still going to take a step back before it takes a step forward. These animals have no defense system aside from running away, and they’re always at the bottom of the food chain, so they instinctively fear everything. In this article, we’ll be discussing how to overcome this problem and how to form a strong bond with your hamster. It’s important to stay patient and not give up just because it’s going slowly. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a few of the most important conditions you will need to fulfill if you want your hamster to trust you. Without any further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Make Sure That Your Hamster is Comfortable2. Talk to Your Hamster3. Feeding Your Hamster4. Handling Your Hamster5. Playing with Your HamsterUseful Tips 1. Make Sure That Your Hamster is Comfortable This is very important to any animal, not only to hamsters. Even we, humans, can’t really fulfill our full potential unless our environment is good. We can’t study if our room is a mess, and we can’t work if everyone in the office is shouting – the same principle applies to hamsters; they won’t feel comfortable if their environment isn’t comfortable. You have to understand that hamsters are afraid of everything, and they’re under a great deal of stress after moving. So, when you get your hamster, know that it’s going to take weeks for the hamster to settle in and feel comfortable and adjusted to their new surroundings. To speed up this process, you have to make sure that you’ve made the hamster feel good in their own fur and that their home isn’t presented as a danger to them. This requires two things: buying a good cage and placing that cage. Let’s cover the placement first. You don’t want to place that cage near a TV or a speaker, because hamsters have a very good hearing (and terrible eyesight, while we’re at that), and even though the television or the speaker may not be loud by your standards – they’re going to be obnoxiously loud to the hamster and they’re going to have a lot of trouble functioning. Also, putting them in children’s rooms may not be the best idea, as children are likely to play with them while they’re unsupervised. This is a problem because the hamster can’t be played with until they completely trust their owner(s), and that process takes time. Children immediately playing with the hamster is only going to scare the animal to death, and it’s likely that the hamster will bite to defend itself. Even though hamster bites can’t do much damage, as long as the wound is disinfected and healed properly, this sort of negative interaction will make the hamster trust you even less, and it’s only dragging the process back. It’s also important to note that the expression ‘scare to death’ is quite literal when we’re discussing hamsters (and many other small animals). Their hearts are known to give out if they’re put under too much stress, and a five-foot-tall child pushing their fingers into the cage of a few inches tall hamsters is incredibly scary for them, and that will definitely make them fight back (even though the child has no harmful intent). So, make sure that the space you’re putting the cage in isn’t under too much light, there isn’t too much noise, and there’s not a lot of movement from people. The ideal temperature for a hamster is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure not to put the cage next to a source of heat, draft, or too much sun. The second thing you have to ensure is a good cage. The most important thing for a cage is for it to have enough room. This depends from hamster to hamster, as hamsters (just like us) have their own personal preferences, and two hamsters of the same species may not need the same amount of space. When the cage is too small, the hamster is going to feel stressed out and that can even lead to injury. Hamsters are known to rub their faces against the cage bars, which causes them to lose fur. If the hamster doesn’t feel comfortable in the cage, then it’s not going to feel comfortable around you. Every cage should have plenty of room, bedding, a hiding spot, fresh food and water, and a wheel to run on. The latter is very important, and even though some people think it’s just a gimmick, hamsters actually enjoy running on their wheels – these animals have a lot of energy and they need to burn it off, otherwise, they won’t feel good. When you’re choosing the right cage, you can choose between mesh cages, glass aquariums, and plastic cages. Metal mesh cages are okay, especially because of ventilation and ease of maintenance, but smaller hamsters can run away. Take note that hamsters will always try to run away, even if they adore you and have fully bonded with you – they’ll still try to run away and get to the wilderness if the opportunity for that arises. They can’t exactly help it, it’s in their instinct. Hamsters can fit through insanely small spaces, so you should keep this in mind when purchasing a cage. Glass aquariums are the safest for the hamster, as they can’t hurt themselves and they can’t run away – but they’re hell when it comes to cleaning. Lastly, we have plastic cages, which are great and fun for the hamster, but have poor ventilation and are difficult to clean. When it comes to size – two square feet is a minimum, but your hamster may require more. Look for advice from your local pet shop. 2. Talk to Your Hamster Hamsters have very good hearing, and the first thing you should do to bond with your hamster is talked to it. Just sit in front of the cage and talk. You don’t even have to be talking to the hamster, you can be talking on the phone, read a book out loud, or simply think out loud while working – it’s just important for the hamster to hear your voice and get used to it. After a few weeks the hamster get completely used to your voice and it won’t shiver upon hearing it. It’s also good to talk to the hamster when it’s doing enjoyable things like eating or running on the wheel. 3. Feeding Your Hamster Now, another great thing you can do for your hamster to get more acclimated to you is to feed it. Don’t just feed it the same thing every day – you don’t eat the exact same meal daily, so why should your hamster do that? There are many treats, like apples and seeds that you can give to your hamster. With time, you will be able to try to feed your hamster out of your open palm. This is very important and a great way to improve the relationship between you and your hamster. Firstly, make sure to wash your hands before you place them in your hamster’s cage for any reason. Hamsters can’t see well, so they use their sense of smell and touch to tell what’s what. They tend to bite, even if they don’t feel threatened, to see if what’s in front of them is actually food. So, if you push your finger in your hamster’s cage and it smells like the pot roast you’ve had for lunch, you’re basically guaranteeing that your hamster will bite your finger. Hamsters can’t control this instinct, once again, as they’re conditioned by evolution to eat (or at least store) every sort of food they come upon. It’s important that your hamster trusts you enough to eat out of your open palm. Just like hamsters, every other animal (including humans) is vulnerable when eating. And being vulnerable on the open palm of a creature that’s twenty or thirty times your size is very risky. The fact that your hamster is willing to casually eat out of your hand means that it understands that you have no intention of harming it. Place a small piece of apple in your open palm and put your hand in the cage. Let the hamster come to you. It may not work the first time, but it’ll work after a while. Talk to the hamster as you’re doing this – we’ve already discussed how important it is for the hamster to recognize your voice, and this will make it understand that you’re not a threat. 4. Handling Your Hamster It’s going to take a while for your hamster to let you hold it. It’s best to do this after you’ve been feeding it by hand, because that’s a clear sign that your hamster trusts you (somewhat), and it’s time to move to the next step. To hold your hamster, put both hands in the cage, and when your hamster has allowed you to keep them there – connect them to cup them together under your hamster’s belly. You can then raise your hands and you’ll be holding your hamster. Don’t take your hands out of the cage and start carrying your hamster around just yet, for the first time, just let it lie on your cupped hands and let it go back after a while. Try this a few times a day for a few days, each time going a little bit further – taking the hamster out of the cage, putting the hamster close to your chest, carrying the hamster. You have to know that despite the hamster trusting you, it will try to jump out of your hands at the smallest sign of danger – a dog barking, you shaking, etc. This will become a huge problem because it’s very difficult to catch a hamster once it runs away, so the best way to deal with this is to point the hamster towards your chest. Let it feel your body’s warmth, and it will also be more difficult for it to escape because it’s going to be rotated towards you, not away from you. You should do this for a while, and after a few weeks, your hamster will trust you enough to let you hold it whenever you like. Make sure to reward your hamster with a treat every time you hold it like this, that will make it understand that it’s all for a good reason and that you have no intention of harming it, but quite the opposite – rewarding it. You can use this opportunity to pet your hamster. Just like any other animal, hamsters enjoy being pet on the back of their heads. This will further deepen your relationship. 5. Playing with Your Hamster Playing with your hamster is the ultimate level of trust with your pet. It’s difficult to come to this point, but once you do, your hamster trusts you almost completely. Know that your hamster will still try to run away if you don’t enclose its playing area, so it’s best to place some sort of wooden enclosure on the floor when you’re playing with your hamster. One of the most fun things is to teach your hamster tricks. This is actually fairly simple to do, as all hamsters are motivated by food and you can use that to teach them to jump, flip, roll over, spin in a circle, and even wear clothes. Another thing you can do is to buy toys for your hamster. There are many toys available for hamsters at pet stores, but the most popular one is the exercise ball. This is a plastic ball that the hamster can enter and run around with it. This is a form of exercise, but it’s also fun for the hamster. This ball will allow your hamster to safely explore your home, but make sure that it doesn’t fall down the stairs and that it doesn’t roll around for longer than twenty minutes without a water and snack break – hamsters don’t have the strongest stamina. One thing that you have to make sure of when playing with your hamster is to check for any hazards. Make sure that your hamster can’t reach any electrical outlets or chew on a cable. Also, don’t let any other pets in the room while your hamster is there, and block any spaces that your hamster might crawl into. There are times when your hamster will just want to hop into your lap and let you pet it, this is also a form of playing and let your hamster enjoy it. Useful Tips Only approach your hamster when it’s awake. Hamsters like to sleep, a lot, and they usually spend the largest part of the day sleeping, and they’re at their most active when the sun is setting, and later when it’s rising in the morning. They are not going to appreciate you waking them up, and they’re not going to want to play. Approach the hamster when it’s ready to be approached. Let your hamster climb on you. Once your hamster starts finding you trustworthy, it’s going to want to climb on you. They’re pretty good climbers, and they’re not going to hurt you, so you should let them climb on you. This is another form of playing to them, so they’re not going to cause any harm. Groom your hamster – your hamster’s fur is going to grow. Hamsters are actually some of the most well-groomed pets, very similar to cats, and they’re going to spend a large part of their conscious life grooming themselves. Still, make sure that they’re properly groomed. Clean your hamster’s cage often – nobody likes to live in a dirty home, and hamsters don’t like it either. Unfortunately, they can’t exactly clean after themselves, so make sure to clean your hamster’s cage whenever it gets dirty. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)Hamsters come in so many furs and colors and patterns it’s hard to remember which is which sometimes. And other times, they turn around and surprise you and change their fur ! Nothing as dramatic as going from blonde to redhead, but sometimes some hamsters might change their color. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters change color ?Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adultsSome hamsters change their fur in winterVery old hamsters lose fur and go a bit grayOther hamster fur factsThere are versions of Syrian hamsters with long furLong fur can get very mattedHamster fur can grow back in most casesHamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Do hamsters change color ? Some hamsters can change color, either because they are very young and coming into their adult fur, or because they are getting very old and turning a bit gray, or because they’re a type of hamster that turns white when the cold season hits. Aside from the Winter White hamsters, no color change is dramatic but it’s a fun thing to observe in your hamster.  Hamsters come in so many fur colors, to begin with, it’s interesting to see how their fur can change as they age or the seasons change. Let’s start with the most common reason their fur can change.  Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adults When hamsters are born, they are hairless. Then they get their initial fur growth, and it’s usually something very light, very fluffy, and very close to what their adult color will be. But as they reach maturity (about 3 months) their fur color will develop more. Some colors will be brighter, and some extra hairs will grow in, especially agouti hairs (with black at the end of each hair). For example when I first got my Teddy, he was maybe a little over a month old. So tiny ! He was a golden Syrian hamster, so he already had a light orange/gold on his back, with grey ears, and white markings on his face and feet. But as he grew a little more, I noticed he had a bit of a spot on his forehead, like a gray smudge. At first, I thought he got dirty somewhere, somehow.  But nope, turns out he actually had some agouti hairs growing all over him, and a very pale grey mark on his forehead. So as an adult my teddy was orange, with agouti hairs, mostly on his back, and a grey mark on his forehead. He was might lighter looking as a tiny little 1 month old boy.  Some hamsters change their fur in winter Some hamsters can change their fur when winter comes. This change is triggered by a shift in temperatures, but especially by a shift in daylight. The only hamsters to do this are the Winter White dwarf hamster, otherwise known as Siberian dwarf, or Djungarian dwarf.  In the wild this happens all the time. But when we’re talking about pet Winer Whites, this rarely happens, because of artificial lighting, and the even temperature inside our homes. You can induce this change, but it means only subjecting your hamster to natural daylight and nothing more. I imagine this is easier to do in the countryside due to much less light pollution.   Very old hamsters lose fur and go a bit gray Another reason for hamsters to change their fur is when they get very, very old. Like humans, old hamsters get slower, and turn gray, and start to lose their fur. Well not exactly the same, but they get silver spots. The most common places for silver or white fur in an old hamster are around the ears and neck, as far as I’ve seen. These changes seem to be more noticeable in Syrian hamsters than dwarfs. Most hamsters have a short lifespan, around 2-3 years. The hamsters I’ve had, 2 died of old age and one is still around but also growing old. When Teddy died, he was almost 2 years old. His fur was thinning on his neck and back, and his ears were drooping a little, and he suddenly had these white tufts around his ears. He started looking alike a grumpy old man, balding but with a lot of hair around his ears.  When Eggwhite died, he was also almost 2 years old, but he was a creamy white so I couldn’t notice a change in color. But I did notice his fur getting thinner, his eyelids drooping a little, and he also developed some tufts around his ears like Teddy did before he passed away.  Both Teddy and Eggwhite were Syrian hamsters. My third hamster is a Winter White, called Rocket, but she’s never changed her fur in the 2 years we’ve had her. She can (theoretically) live up to 4 years, and so far we haven’t seen any signs of old age on her, such as white hairs, droopy ears or eyes, or even getting slower. The fur on her paws is a little thinner, but that’s the only thing.  Other hamster fur facts Here are some other interesting hamster fur facts, since these little guys are far more fun than they appear. Their fur comes in many colors and patterns, but that’s not where it stops.  There are versions of Syrian hamsters with long fur When scientists captured Syrian hamsters for their labs, they also bred them to be more docile and this also led to them expressing different fur patterns. In time the hamsters wound up with breeders, who tried to see if there could be long haired hamsters. And eventually they succeeded, long-haired Syrian hamsters are here and they look absolutely funny. The long hair can sometimes be long and flowy, other times it can be a mix of long and short with just a few tufts sticking out, and in some cases it’s long fur all over the hamster.  These long-haired hamsters sound fun, and they may seem a bit more cuddly than the others, but their temperament is the same. They don’t really enjoy being picked up, but you can try. Their fur requires a lot of extra care though, since it can easily get matted. Hamsters are very clean creatures, and they clean themselves several times a day. But they weren’t ‘programmed’ for long fur, so they can’t clean it as well as short fur. Sometimes they need help, which brings us to the next point.  Long fur can get very matted This is mostly the case for long-haired Syrian hamsters, but in theory it could happen to any hamster. When the fur becomes too long, the hamster has trouble keeping it clean and detangled. In these cases you can either help the hamster by brushing out the mats, or cutting the knots out. Both are quite difficult, and your hamster’s temperament will dictate how to handle this.  So let’s start with the first one, trying to brush out the matted fur. If you’ve ever had knots in your own hair you know how difficult they can be, and how painful it is to comb them out. You have to start at the ends, and very slowly work your way up. Your hamster will obviously not want to sit still for half an hour until you get all the knots.  This will be slow, and you will have to let the furball sit as he wants to keep him calm. Try to grab his attention with a small treat, and attempt to comb out some knots at his backside, starting from the edges. He might flinch, or he might not care; not all hamsters are the same. This won’t last long, and you may only have a couple of minutes to work on his fur.  That’s okay, let him be and try again in an hour or two. Don’t try to do this all in one day. It’s really not easy.  The second option, perhaps easier, is to simply cut off the knots you can’t brush out. Your hamster will get some uneven fur but this takes less time. Again, do this on the hammy’s own terms. If he wants to go away let him go away. If he squirms, put him down and try again later. Always use something to distract him.  You need a pair of very sharp hair cutting scissors. Hopefully the knots are towards the end of the fur. If there are any knots close to the body or directly against the skin leave them alone. The risk of hurting your hamster by accident is too high.  Like combing out knots, this can take a while too. Maybe your hamster doesn’t mind the sound of scissors, maybe he gets frightened. There is no safe way to keep him in place, without injury or extreme distress for both of you. Best to just go very slow, and use a good pair of scissors. Hamster fur can grow back in most cases Sometimes a hamster will lose some of its fur, and sometimes that fur can grow back. Not always, such as very old hamsters who lose their fur due to old age. Or hamsters with a genetic condition that prevents them from growing fur in the first place. The fur on these hamsters sadly won’t ever grow.  But if your hammy lost a patch of fur because of a skin condition, an irritation, ringworm, or just because he scratched himself too much, there is good news ! The fur can grow back, as soon as the skin condition is treated and healed ! In case of excessing scratching, it’s usually due to an irritant, like a rash, or the hammy got bit by something and it’s now itching. Once that is gone and the hamster doesn’t have a reason to keep scratching, the fur will grow back.  Hamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Hamsters have very delicate fur, especially the fluff right next to the skin. It’s meant to insulate the hamster and keep it both warm and cool, depending on the weather. Hammies are exceptionally good at keeping themselves clean, they lick and nibble at their fur constantly so it is always clean. Kind of like a cat cleans itself, except this one isn’t meowing.  There is no real reason to give a hamster a bath to clean it, unless it somehow got something on it that the hamster can’t or shouldn’t clean by itself, like car grease or ketchup.  If you do get your hamster’s fur wet, know that washing it with any sort of soap will disturb the natural oils on its skin. Not only that but these animals are so frail, they need to be dried immediately after getting wet since they can’t easily handle it. Where hamsters come from water (rain) is rare, so they haven’t adapted their fur to be water-proof.  So, it’s best to never put your hamster in a situation where it could get its fur wet. And never handle your hamster with dirty hands. The hammy will clean itself after you play with it even if you’ve just washed your hands, imagine how icky it’d feel if you picked it up with Cheetos dust on your fingers.  [...] Read more...
Hamsters Living With Guinea Pigs – What No One Told You
Hamsters Living With Guinea Pigs – What No One Told YouYou might wonder if your furry hamster can live with a friendly guinea pig. After all, they’re both rodents, and they might just get along, right ? As it turns out, guinea pigs and hamsters are very different animals, and housing them together is a delicate subject. Here’s the answer to what you were looking for. If you want a more detailed comparison between a hamster and a guinea pig, you should read this article. Table of Contents ToggleSo can a hamster live with a guinea pig ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the guinea pig’s personalityCage size for guinea pigs, and hamstersDifference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamstersFood fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue overA word from Teddy So can a hamster live with a guinea pig ? No. Hamsters can’t and shouldn’t live together with guinea pigs. Not because there is something wrong with guinea pigs. But because of a major difference in personality, how they react to strangers. One is fiercely territorial, while the other can live in a large group. And incredibly important, one sleeps the day away, while the other takes short naps throughout the 24 hours. They will inevitably annoy the hell out of each other. So if you ever mix a hamster and a guinea pig in the same cage, or even just during playtime, things will go bad. Very very fast, and you’ll need to be quick to separate the two. To really understand why these two furballs should be kept separate, we need to look at their personalities, cage requirements. and even playtime. About the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A guinea pig is much bigger, smells different, and acts different. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own  a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. While there are differences between hamsters, they are roughly the same. You need to know both hamsters and guinea pigs well before you even think of housing them together. About the guinea pig’s personality A guinea pig is a very social animal, and a great starter pet. They’re more docile than a puppy, but still show some personality so you learn that pets are their own beings and you need to do some things their way. That being said, guinea pigs don’t do well on their own, unless you’re always there to play with them and cuddle them. In nearly every case it’s best to get your guinea pig a buddy so they can keep each other company. A guinea pig is easy enough to tame, since it will react well to new sights and people. Still, some care should be taken, since they’re not immediately friendly like a puppy, or curious like a kitten. Guinea pigs will generally flee if they sense any danger, and won’t really bite unless in some extreme cases of self defense. And they’re not terribly territorial. However problems will arise when the hamster gets scared or annoyed by the pig, and will bite in retaliation. While hamsters are small, their jaws a powerful, and will injure the guinea pig. Think of the guinea pig as a gentle giant, who lets things slide for the most part. Very hard to anger, but once he is irritated, his teeth and jaws are much stronger than a hamster’s. The small piggy can only keep its patience for so long, and will eventually bite back. Given the sheer size difference between a guinea pig and a hamster, it won’t go well. You will end up with an injured, irritable guinea pig, and a dead hamster. Cage size for guinea pigs, and hamsters A single Syrian hamster can live in a cage the size of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. A Dwarf would need half that size, but I honestly recommend getting your hamster a very large cage, since he’ll feel much more comfortable with lots of space to run around. A guinea pig, on the other hand, needs 30 x 36 inches/ 76 x 91 cm cage. That is the absolute minimum, for just one guinea pig. The more piggies your have, you’ll have to almost double that size. As with the hamster, a larger cage is better. Alright, you might argue that you’ve got an incredibly large cage, big enough for both the piggy and the hamster. Fair enough, let’s look at how both animals keep their territory. A guinea pig will share his home with his partner, or the other 234 piggies it lives with. A guinea pig is a very social, herd animal. A hamster will attack anything that comes into his territory, and lives alone. He makes regular rounds of the space he owns, and will jump any creature stumbles upon. While the guinea pig will turn away, the hammy will chase him and eventually bite.  Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters are incredibly sensitive to smell, and very much love their routine. They need things to be in the same place, smelling of their scent, and nothing alien. A guinea pig wandering the cage will throw off the hammy’s routine, and become a nuisance without even trying. Finally, guinea pigs will get bored with the same setup, and move their herd from one hideout to another. The hamster will disagree with this. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Difference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamsters What about the playtime between hamsters and guinea pigs ? Well, they both love to exercise, so they’ve got that in common. While the piggy won’t use the hamster’s wheel to run, he’ll use the entire cage for a quick sprint. And he will bump into the hammy’s wheel, or hideout or any other objects. This won’t sit well with the hamster. And finally with the playing and handling, the hamster can’t sit still for very long. But a guinea pig will stay put for longer, and come back with your scent. This will produce mixed feelings in the hamster, who is again a very smell-sensitive animal. So generally most interactions between the two don’t go too well, largely due to the hamster’s need for solitude. While hamsters will only come out and play in the evening and most of the night, a guinea pig is different. A guinea pig sleeps in patches throughout the day, and will generally follow the owner’s routine. A hamster on the other hand will sleep the day away, and only wake up in the evening, which will produce large amounts of stress. The hammy won’t rest well, since the piggy is running around the cage and the sounds will keep the hamster on alert. And when the guinea pig would take a short nap, the hammy could possibly stumble upon it (curious as hamsters are, but also silly and a bit thick). Which will not end up well, again. Food fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue over Alright, let’s cover the difference between foods, since this is a major problem. Hamsters are omnivores, so they eat anything from meat to grains and veggies, to fruits. In certain proportions, and they prefer grains for the most part. You can find out more about that here. A guinea pig on the other hand will need food based on veggies, Timothy hay, and lots of vitamin C. If you mix their food, or even if you put the food separately, there’s not telling who is going to eat whose food. Neither the hamster or the piggy will know the food is for the other one, and they will end up fighting over it. This is a serious issue with Dwarf hammies who live together and can lead to fatal injuries. Let alone a large guinea pig fighting a small hamster. Also take into account that hamsters live far less than guinea pigs. A hamster can live as long as 2-4 years, while a guinea pig can reach 7 years. An old hamster will probably become blind in his final weeks or months, and find it more difficult to navigate his cage. Normally hamsters memorize their cages and where to find everything, so they can do just fine without their eyesight. But stumbling upon the piggy, while blind, is bound to scare them. The hammy will be scared even if he’s alone in his cage and you don’t talk to him enough before coming close, when he’s blind. So to sum everything up, and give you a rounded answer: Hamsters and guinea pigs can’t live together. The hamster prefers to be alone and will consider the piggy an intruder, even if they’re introduced as babies. Best to keep them separate, and make sure they don’t even meet. You’ll save yourself and the two animals a lot of literal pain and heartache. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies seem like we could use a buddy, but we’re fine on our own. We like it that way, and won’t take kindly to other animals. Nothing personal, that’s just us being hamsters, is all. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should definitely check out the articles below to find out how to care for us properly, and keep us happy. [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters Eat Cheese ? Are The Cartoons Right ?
Can Hamsters Eat Cheese ? Are The Cartoons Right ?When I first got my Teddy I wondered if he can eat cheese like I saw in Tom & Jerry. As it turns out, hamsters can eat many different things. Some of them are actually in your pantry or fridge ! Table of Contents ToggleSo can my hamster eat dairy ?Hamsters can eat cheeseHamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurtHammies should avoid milkCommercial hamster food has enough mineral contentA word from Teddy So can my hamster eat dairy ? The short answer – yes, hamsters can eat some types of  dairy. But in a small amounts, and only certain kinds. Some dairy products are safe for hamsters, some can cause digestive problems. Lactose content plays a major role in how well mammals respond to dairy, and hamsters fall into the mammal category. Not all milk-based products are okay for hammies. This is due to the small size of hamsters, and their different gut than humans. Hamsters can tolerate some kinds of dairy, and I’ll cover the main kinds in the rest of the article. Hamsters can eat cheese Cheese is safe for hamsters, both regular cheese and white/cottage cheese, including feta. This is mostly because the fermenting process ends in a product that is safe to consume for most creatures. The lactose content in cheese is much smaller than in regular milk. The gut has an easier time processing cheese than any other dairy product, since there’s less lactose in it. You’ve seen Jerry in the cartoons go nuts over a bit of cheese. Well, hamsters love cheese just as much as mice do, since they’re not so distantly related after all. Also, the strong smell makes hammies want to go for it instantly. You can see my Teddy in the first photo of this article, happily munching on a bit of Gouda. The first time he even smelled it, he was all over it. So yes, hamsters can eat cheese, and their stomach is okay with it. Be sure to give your hamsters mild cheese that is not very aged. Overly smelly (pungent) cheese may sit badly with them, such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. Soft cheeses like brie, or washed rind cheeses have a mold or bacteria culture that may be unsafe for hamsters, so try and avoid giving them to hamsters. Hamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurt Yogurt is another story here. The probiotics are a welcome bonus, and it will help with digestive problems. However with hamsters it’s the bacteria culture that  can cause trouble. You see, hammies have a different kind of stool than humans. The only reason hammies ever have a wet stool is if they’re very very ill and this is not something okay for them. So I’m not saying giving your hamster yogurt will give him a runny stool. But I am saying that yogurt may cause bloating and digestive problems for your hamster. Which is why I recommend that you don’t give your hamster yogurt often, or in large amounts. Something like half a teaspoon is enough, and it should not be given more than once per week. Hammies will eat many things that are not okay for them. They can’t really know the difference between the foods unless they try it, so they rely on you to keep them safe. You will find yogurt listed as an ingredient for some treats for hamsters. That’s usually alright, since it’s in a small amount, and mostly there’s powdered milk where it says yogurt. Actual, natural yogurt does not keep and can’t be used in most treats. Hammies should avoid milk When it comes to milk, I recommend you avoid it completely for your hamster. The amount of lactose is the highest in milk, and it’s the one most likely to give your hamster a bad tummy. Hamsters only suckle from their mothers until they’re 3-4 weeks old. After they’re weaned, like most mammals, they can’t process lactose and will have trouble digesting it. Most everyone has a degree of lactose intolerance, some more extreme, some more manageable. Younger mammals, like baby hamsters or humans can process it well enough. Adult humans or hamsters can’t stomach milk and will have trouble with it. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Commercial hamster food has enough mineral content You can feed your hamster with things you’ve already got around the house. Like meat, and veggies, and some cheese. You can find a list of safe foods for your hamster right here. But it’s both easier and more nutrition-conscious of you to feed your hammy a pre-made food mix, that will give your hamster enough to cover the basics. Commercial food mixes do have a high enough mineral content, which is something you might think you’re helping your hamster get with extra cheese or yogurt. A good food mix like this one is going to help your hamster cover all his bases. You’ve got protein, veggies, vitamins, fibers, and minerals. And the selection in this bag is very wide, so your hamster can choose whatever he like. Be warned though, that hamsters can become very picky with their food, and they might ignore bits of the mix sometimes. That’s okay, you can add a peanut here, a walnut there, and make sure your hammy gets all the nutrition he needs. You’ll find the Amazon listing for this food mix here, and you can check out the reviews as well. You can supplement your hammy’s food with whatever you have on hand as is okay for him to eat. For example I give my Teddy a small bit of cooked chicken, or cooked egg white whenever we’re cooking, er even a bit of carrot. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies might want to eat everything, but only some kinds of dairy are okay. For example I love Gouda, and Maasdam cheese, but maybe your hammy likes Cheddar better ? If you want to know more about us hamster you should check out the articles below. You’ll find out things like how large a cage we need, and why we sometimes freeze when you walk by us. [...] Read more...