Hamsters are little, scurry cute animals that are fast becoming choice of pet for many homes. Adults loves them, children adore them, what is more, they are also inexpensive to take care and requires little space. This article will introduce to the best five hamsters breeds for kids.
What are the best Hamster breeds for children? This is dependent on a lot of factors such as the age of the child, the temperament of the child and personal preference. Generally speaking, the Syrian Hamster will be the best choice for children because of its friendly nature and the fact that is almost suitable for children of all ages.
Syrians Hamsters are best suited to beginners of any age, while smaller ones such as the Russian dwarf require a little more caution, care and know-how. However, before bring a hamster home, you must educate your child on how to take care of the hamster and what is cruel and what is not. Hamsters are very delicate creatures and should be handled delicately. Read on to see our detailed guide on the best hamster breeds for children.
Best 5 Hamster Breeds for Children
There are about 20 hamster breeds in the world, all with different care needs and temperament.
The Syrian hamster, also referred to as the teddy bear or golden hamster are so far the most popular pet hamsters of all and the best option for your children. Syrian hamsters can grow as long as 7 inches, making them the largest of the pet breeds. Owing to their size, children can easily handle them than smaller hamsters.
Another perk is that the Syrian hamster requires very little maintenance. They are generally able to cope around homes with hectic schedules and are more willing to be played with – another reason they are the best for children. Though the Syrians is one of the friendliest breeds, they are very anti-social and aggressive towards their own species. Hence, they are better kept alone.
Syrian Hamster Hamsters Tips
Before adopting a Syrian hamster as pet for your kids, it is advisable to note the following:
- Syrian hamsters are anti-social and aggressive to their own specie. So, it is best to keep them alone. Putting more than one Syrian hamster together will result to a lot of fighting and bloodshed.
- Syrian hamsters are the largest hamster breed. You should put this in mind when preparing the home for a Syrian hamster. This means they will require larger spaces and cages.
- In case you buy a Syrian hamster with long hair, you may need to groom him/her occasionally to prevent his/her fur from matting.
- The life span of the Syrian hamster is 3-4 years.
- Female Syrian hamster are usually more active than the male during the day time.
- Most Syrian hamsters have golden furs, occasionally, you will find some with brown, white, grey and even black furs.
- Syrian hamsters are the best pet hamsters’ option for children generally.
Dwarf Russian Hamsters
There are two types of dwarf hamsters, the first, the dwarf Russian hamsters are very small in size and inexpensive to maintain. These hamsters are quite small, compared to their Syrian counterparts. Unlike the Syrian hamster, they are social enough to live in pairs with same-gender adult or in a group.
However, it is advisable to introduce dwarf Russian hamsters when they are still young, if not it is best to keep an adult dwarf Campbell Russian hamster by itself.
It is better not to buy a dwarf hamster for your young children, as they’re small and a lot faster than Syrians and if it escapes, it’s a lot harder to catch or find. They might also so bite when they are annoyed. As such, they are suitable for older children and teenagers. Furthermore, Russian dwarf hamsters are nocturnal animal and therefore most active in the evening, making them a natural choice for older children who are at school during daytime hours. Both types of dwarf hamsters may reach a maximum length of 4 inches.
Dwarf Russian Hamster Tips
Dwarf Russian Hamsters are quite small and most never grow more than four inches long. The following tips will be help you care for your child’s dwarf hamster effectively.
- Dwarf Russian hamsters are more skittish than other hamster breeds. This hamster breed is known to bite when startled or frightened.
- Dwarf Russian hamsters are sweet natured when tamed, nonetheless, you will need to supervise any interactions between your dwarf hamster and young children.
- This particular breed has a life span of two years.
- Dwarf Russian Hamsters are truly nocturnal. This means they became more active in the evening and at night. Though, sometimes a tamed dwarf Russian hamster will wake for a bit during the day.
- Campbell’s dwarf hamsters have a natural coat colour. This is usually a grey-brown coloration on the back that is darkest along the spine and a white under-belly.
- However, a dwarf Russian hamster may display a surprising range of coloration due to the influence of breeders.
- Dwarf Russian Hamsters are best suited for older children.
- You will need to be careful when choosing a habitat for a Dwarf Russian Hamster. These tiny hamsters can slip between wider cage bars, or worse, get stuck because of their size. So be sure you choose a habitat with suitably close-set bars for your hamster’s safety.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters
The dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster is the second of dwarf hamster types. They were once thought to be a sub-specie of the dwarf Russian hamster. However, recent studies have revealed the dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster as a different breed from the dwarf Russian hamster.
The two breeds however have a lot in common. First, they are both dwarf hamster breeds and they both originate from the same region in northern Asia. Furthermore, they both have the same natural coloration and nocturnal habits. The dwarf winter white Russian hamster, is similar in disposition to the Campbell’s and may not be a good choice for young children.
On a closer look, the dwarf winter white Russian hamster has a more stout and compact body shape than the dwarf Russian hamster. The dwarf Russian Hamsters have sleeker and mouse-like facial features. Moreover, the dwarf Russian are more common as pets than the Winter White dwarf hamster.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster Tips
Below are some few tips about the dwarf Winter White hamster:
- The safest habitat is an aquarium. These tiny little hamsters rarely grow more than three inches long. Because they are so small, a habitat with cage bars is not advisable for safety. A glass or plastic aquarium is a much safer choice.
- These hamsters love to work out. If you need motivation to get in shape, your new Winter White dwarf hamster can help you. They love to exercise and will absolutely need a running wheel and several climbing areas in their habitat.
- The dwarf white winter hamsters are one of the most sociable hamsters, as such, they will mind living groups as far as they are introduced early. They will also happily welcome a workout partner/cage-mate of their own kind.
- If you are allergic to animal fur, you may not want to pick this hamster. More allergies have been reported by dwarf Winter White hamster owners than by owners of any other hamster breed.
- They are mellow and sweet. If visions of a tiny furball sitting in your palm as you pet it sends you into cuteness overload, this is definitely the hamster for you! They love to be held and are easy to tame.
- The Winter White dwarf hamster’s coat actually isn’t pure white. It comes in three colorations: pearl, sapphire and pearl-sapphire. The only time a Winter White dwarf hamster will turn fully white is if it is exposed to true winter conditions. This is not recommended in captivity.
- The Winter White Dwarf hamster has an average lifespan of about two years.
- The winter white Dwarf hamster is better suited for older children
Roborovski hamsters are the newest hamsters and one of the fastest to be domesticated. They are not widely kept as pets due to their unwillingness to be handled. The smallest of the popular hamster breeds, they grow to only 2 inches in length.
Though they are more fascinating to observe than to play with, they rarely nip and have gentle dispositions, according to a Doctors Foster and Smith website. They are social hamsters if they’re kept with others from birth, but they don’t make friends well once they reach adulthood. Their life spans of 3 to 3 and ½ years make them the longest-lived of the pet hamster breeds.
Due to its incredibly tiny size, the Robo hamster is considered by many to be the cutest hamster breed of all. However, owing to the same size, they are better suited for older children.
Roborovski Hamsters Tips
Here are some useful tips about the Robo hamster:
- Because of their size and swift nature, you won’t be able to handle Robo hamsters that much. The reason for this is not because they can’t be tamed, but because they are really difficult to hold onto!
- The instinct of any Roborovski dwarf hamster, when restrained, is to escape – and they are very good at it. So, you have to make sure that its habitat is safe and secure.
- Roborovski has a life span of 3-3 and ½ years and sometimes even four years.
- They are very social. So long as they lived in groups as a youngster, the Robo hamster will do well with a same-gender cage mate or even a group of Robo hamsters.
- Roborovski hamsters are known to be very cute. They usually havelovely sandy-brown coats with white bellies.
- Roborovski hamsters are better suited for older and not young children.
Note: Dwarf hamster breeds are options for children who want more than one hamster because they can be kept in pairs or in small groups within the same dwelling, as long as:
- They are the same species and same sex.
- They are introduced to each other at a young age.
- The dwelling is large enough.
Chinese hamsters, also known as striped hamsters, are not too common as pets due to breeding difficulties. They are quite timid and very fast, preferring large spaces to live and hide in.
To some, the Chinese hamster looks more like a mouse than a hamster. This is because of its long, lean body and mouse-like facial features. Their slender bodies can reach 12 centimeters in length and their life spans can range from 2 1/2 to 3 years.
Chinese hamsters are not sociable with others of their kind, but are good-natured toward their human caretakers, according to Doctors Foster and Smith. Like the Robo hamster, the Chinese hamster is unlikely to be happy to be handled for any period of time. Choosing instead to run as quickly as he can in the direction of his enclosure!
Chinese Hamster Tips
Below are some useful tips for the Chinese Hamster”
- They are best housed alone. While this hamster is timid and docile around people, they can get more aggressive when around other Chinese hamsters.
- They need lots of toys and space. A bored Chinese hamster can quickly turn into a grumpy, aggressive, nip-happy Chinese hamster. They love to play and will need a large habitat with lots of toys. Digging is another big favorite activity, and they will love to hide in tunnels and burrow under their bedding.
- Play it safe and house Chinese hamsters separately, advises Lianne McLeod, DVM and guide to Exotic Pets at About.com.
- Chinese Hamster are not suitable pets for young children. The Chinese hamster is fragile, agile and quick. So, all interactions between this hamster breed and young children must be supervised.
- An aquarium is the best cage choice. Cages with bars may look like a challenge to these petite and flexible hamsters. They are at risk of getting caught between the bars.
- Chinese hamsters can live as long as three years and therefore best suited for older children.
Factors to consider when choosing the best hamster breed for your children
- Who is the hamster owner? How old are they? Are they younger or older children? Do they have hamster ownership experience? Would they know how to care for the hamster breed?
- How much space do you have for your hamster? do you live in a huge country mansion with ample room for a large cage or tank, or a city dwelling with a need for more economical use of space?
- How long do you expect to be caring for your furry tiny friend? Some hamster such as the Roborovski and Syrian can live up to3- 4 years, so commitment to their care is very important!
- Do you have any allergies? Some hamster fur like the Roborovski is more hypoallergenic than others!
- What levels of interaction are you expecting? would you prefer to observe your hamster bustling around going about his business? or would you prefer a cuddly little fellow who doesn’t mind being carried and petted?
- Are you on a budget? again, hamsters can live for up to 4 years, so it is important you have the time and money to care for him.
Hamster as Pets for Children: Pros and Cons
As with any pet, there are pros and cons to having hamsters as children’s pet.
- Hamsters can be tamed, and become quite loving and social once tamed, thereby providing companionship to your children
- They love to play, and they are fun to watch, making them one of the best activities for children to engage in.
- Hamster are generally inexpensive and relatively low maintenance.
- Having a hamster as a pet is a way to teach children responsibility.
- Hamsters don’t take up a lot of space like other pets.
- They are nocturnal: if not bothered by the noise, kids report that they help them feel more secure and less lonely at night
- They have a short life expectancy (2-4years), so they are not as much of a commitment as some other pets
- Hamsters can take several weeks to tame, and can be skittish until they are comfortable with their surroundings and the children.
- Frequent cage cleanings are necessary, this might be inconvenient for people with tight schedules.
- Hamsters are sometimes known to bite, especially before tamed and when their nap is interrupted.
- Prepare for occasional soiling, (it will happen eventually) they might poo and pee on you when you hold them.
- Hamsters especially the smaller ones are difficult to find if they escape, and they must be kept away from dogs and cats and other pets who may injure them.
- They are nocturnal; if your child is bothered by wheel-running and gnawing in the middle of the night, Hamster might be the best pet option for them.
- They have a short life expectancy (2-3 years), the loss of a pet might be traumatic to a child.
Further Reading and Resources
Stern, L., “Super weird hamster facts that you may not know about your cuddly pet,”Mashable, 2016.