Large, Medium or Dwarf Hamsters: European Hamsters, Golden Hamsters and Dwarf Hamsters

Anyone who believes that a hamster is the same as a hamster is very wrong. There are different types of hamsters, from the European hamster to the golden hamster to the dwarf hamster.

What are the Differences Between European Hamsters, Golden Hamsters, and Dwarf Hamsters?

One of the most important hamster information is that the cute little guys are divided into large hamsters (e.g. European hamsters), medium hamsters (e.g. golden hamsters), and dwarf hamsters (e.g. Djungarian hamsters) depending on their size.

The European Hamster – an Endangered Wild Animal

The European hamster is a wild animal that occurs in Central Europe but is now one of the most endangered animals. This is because it had a bad reputation as a pest of hauling kilos of grain from the fields and hoarding it in its burrow. A hamster needs up to 4 kg of grain to survive the winter but tends to collect a lot more. That is why the hamster, which belongs to the group of large hamsters and actually shines with a respectable size compared to other hamsters, became the object of hunting for professional hamster catchers. Today the pretty, three-colored hamster with the unusual fur color is partly under nature protection. It measures up to 35 cm, making it one of the largest rodents.

  • Characteristics: wild animal, loner, crepuscular and nocturnal;
  • Size: from head to tail up to 35 cm;
  • Appearance: yellow to medium brown fur with light spots on the sides of the cheek, chest, and black belly. White muzzle and feet;
  • Origin: steppes of Eastern Europe and Asia;
  • Weight: 200 – 500 g;
  • Husbandry: a pure wild animal.

The Golden Hamster – Relative of the European Hamster

The number one representative from the medium-sized hamster society is without a doubt the golden hamster. Correctly, it is actually called the Syrian golden hamster. This is a close relative of the European hamster. However, it is much smaller and one of the so-called medium hamsters. It is only about 15 cm long, measured from the head to the short tail. In terms of appearance, it is quite similar to its wild, big brother in the great outdoors. The Goldi is less suitable for children – it is active at night. The golden hamster is also available with long fur – then it is called teddy hamster – and with satin fur, it is called silk hamster. Various colors are also known.

Syrian Hamster

  • Properties: solitary, crepuscular, and nocturnal;
  • Size: around 15 cm from head to tail;
  • Appearance: short stubby tail, different colors, for example piebald, gray, cream, white, or cinnamon;
  • Origin: Syria;
  • Weight: 130 – 180 g;
  • Housing: large cage (at least 100 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm) with climbing facilities and a 20 cm deep soil layer is required;
  • Diet: hamster food, fresh food, and now and then some animal protein.

The Dwarf Hamster – Small But Powerful

And it can be even smaller: Dwarf hamsters are now also conquering our hearts, for example, the Djungarian or Roborowski dwarf hamsters. They are the smallest of the hamster species and only grow to be up to 10 cm long. When it comes to keeping and care, dwarf hamsters hardly have any other demands than golden hamsters. But: They usually do not become tame that easily and are more suitable to look at than to touch. They are also considered to be more susceptible to disease. In addition to the Djungars and Roborowskis, there are also the Campbell dwarf hamsters and the Chinese dwarf hamsters.

One more word about baby hamsters: If you want to breed, you should think carefully beforehand whether you have enough buyers for the little ones. You have to be prepared for three to twelve cubs, depending on the type of hamster.

Dwarf Hamster

  • Characteristics: mostly loners (exception: Dsungare, Roborowski – they sometimes live in a family group), active at twilight and at night, does not become tame as easily as the golden hamster. Lower life expectancy than, for example, the middle hamster;
  • Size: 5 – 10.5 cm from head to tail;
  • Appearance: depending on the species, different coat colors and tail lengths, large black eyes;
  • Origin: Mongolia, Siberia, and China;
  • Weight: 30 – 55 g;
  • Housing: Large cage with the minimum dimensions of 100 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm (L x W x H) is necessary, and a soil layer that can be dug at least 20 cm deep must be created;
  • Diet: ready-made feed, fresh feed, and now and then some animal protein.
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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