Hamsters are naturally friendly pets, to varying degrees. It depends on the species, gender, the amount of hand-taming they have received, their environment (i.e. happy hamsters are friendly hamsters), and whether or not they’re being kept on their own.
Syrian hamsters are friendly and full of character
Friendly Syrian Hamsters
Syrians are friendly once hand-tamed, and can form strong bonds with their owners. They are the largest and most popular of the pet hamsters, mainly because of a long history of wide availability, and partly because their size makes them easier to hold than the Dwarf species.
Syrian hamsters are chunky, and quite slow movers. This can make them a less stressful option for more nervous owners when handling and playing with them.
Another factor contributing to Syrian hamsters’ popularity is that they don’t just like being alone, they need to be kept on their own. This means they rely on their owners for entertainment and interaction.
Chinese Hamsters Are Friendly - Sometimes With Each Other!
Once hand-tamed, Chinese hamsters make a very friendly companion, although most are a little timid. They also move very quickly, so an owner needs to be comfortable handling them.
Unlike Syrian hamsters, Chinese hamsters can be kept in groups. However, they are territorial, and you will need a second hamster cage in case they fight. When they do, they tend not to make up, and will need to be permanently separated.
Handling Dwarf Hamsters
Campbell hamsters are much faster than Syrian hamsters, which puts some prospective owners off. Their hyperactive speediness makes them great fun to watch, but the speed with which they move makes handling them a bit tricky.
Similarly, Winter White hamsters are super-speedy and if you’re not careful they can slip out of your hands like hairy bars of soap. This speediness doesn’t prevent these two species from being lovely, affectionate pets.
Roborovski hamsters are easy to handle when they're this small, but are difficult to hand-tame
Roborovski Hamsters - Not Ideal For First-Time Owners
Some owners report that Roborovskis are not very friendly, and it’s certainly true that they are the hardest hamster species to tame. This doesn’t mean they’re nasty or in any way dangerous, it’s just that they take a while to engage with the hand-taming process. For a first-time owner, or someone who is a bit apprehensive about handling and hand-taming, Roborovskis are not the best choice.