The different hamster species have slightly different temperaments and needs. In order to decide which one to go for, ask yourself the following questions:
- How comfortable are you holding smaller creatures?
- What type of cage do you have; or how much space do you have to accommodate a new cage?
- Do you have any preference for gender?
- Do you want to keep more than one hamster in the cage (i.e. this rules out Syrian hamsters, the most popular breed)
- Who will be the primary care-giver, and are they old enough, or responsible enough, to properly handle and care for the hamster?
You should carefully consider these questions, to make sure you make the right choice.
Syrians are the largest of the pet hamsters, and are committed singletons: just one per cage!
You need to be sure that you (or whoever you’re buying the hamster on behalf of) are comfortable handling it. Hamsters are agile and small, which makes handling them a little tricky if you’re not used to the energy and wriggliness of small animals!
This is why many people opt for the Syrian hamster, the largest and least hyperactive of the hamster family. They are still quite fast, though – it’s just that they’re not as swift and twitchy as their smaller cousins.
Children under ten should not hold hamsters unsupervised, and no young person should be given sole care of the pet. An adult should take on the ultimate responsibility for the animal’s wellbeing. Not that this is in any way a chore! Hamster owners love looking after and bonding with these characterful critters.
Cages With Bars?
If you own a cage with bars, the gap between them will determine whether or not you can keep a Dwarf hamster. If the gap is too large, small varieties such as Roborovskis will be able to squeeze through and escape. Once a hamster gets under your floorboards, it becomes very tricky to rescue him!
His And Her Hamsters
If you have any preference as to your hamster’s gender, do a bit of research on whether or not there are any temperament differences between the males and females of the species you are planning to get.
For example, if you want a female hamster, you need to be aware of issues such as smell and temperament. For more information on differences between hamster genders, have a look at our Should I Get A Female Or A Male Hamster? section.