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How to choose and breed a hamster

Updated on August 7, 2013
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Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

Russian Hamster
Russian Hamster | Source

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

Hamster Breeds

The small pet has become, in this modern day and age of quick convenience, a common feature in every household. Mobile, their minute sizes making them easy to handle for both adults and children, their popularity in many households is no wonder.

Hence, hamster breeding, too, is a popular activity. Hamsters generally breed well and regularly, so breeding is not complex for pet owners.

That does not mean that there are know-hows that we should not observe about hamster breeding. There are techniques, and as with the breeding of any animal,

Choosing a hamster, small though it is, takes some consideration because it means welcoming another pet, and hence life, into the home. What makes the choice a little more difficult is that there are just so many breeds to choose from!


caring for hamsters

Before choosing that hamster, or any other pet.....

Before we take the plunge to bring that hamster, or any pet home, a few things should be thought about. The numbers of abandoned gerbils and hamsters in animal shelters speak of the lack of thinking through and reckless buying some unfortunate pets are subject to.

So what should would be pet owners have in mind before bringing that pet hamster home?


The amount of time we can allocate to caring for a new hamster, or any pet, is the first thing that comes to, or should come to, any potential owner’s mind. If a job entails many hours away from home, it is best not to think about getting any pet at all.


Another life means space needed. Some pets, such as dogs, would need a little more room than others and the space to stretch. Small mammals like hamsters, on the other hand, require less space.

There still needs to be a little thinking about whether there is enough room for that little cage in the home.

Family needs

Hamsters, though easily cared for by children, are not suitable for children of every age. Small children below seven tend to squeeze and rough-handle, so introducing a hamster to them at that age might not be wise.

Further, family members might have other needs. Some may be asthmatic and are sensitive to an animal’s fur. Others may have skin or other allergies related to animals.


Choosing a hamster that's right for you

Choosing a hamster is very much the same as adopting a larger pet. It is important to find the correct fit for everyone in the family.

How would we choose the right hamster?

Choose from a few hamsters

Choose from a few varieties of hamsters.. Pick out three to four that you might like.

Look for a young hamster.

A hamster would usually have thin white hairs in its ears and white teeth that have not been worn yet. If possible, choose a young hamster as hamsters usually have a life span of 2 to 3 years.

Spot the healthy hamster.

When choosing a pet, good health would be paramount. there should be no scars on the skin. A wet tail is a sign of a serious health condition.

Pet the hamster.

Gently, with two fingers, give the hamster a pat. INon reistanc means it likes an will probably get along well ith you.

Hold the hamster gently.

Hold the hamster gently yourself. Any pet that is being gripped would feel a little discomfort. but if the hamster does not stop moving about soon, it could mean extreme nervousness an unsuitability on its part and the part of th owner.

After choosing the hamster...

Familiarize it with your environment.

Take it home and let it run around in its cage. Observe it and ease it in by giving it a few hand held treats.

Play with it and lt it get used to you.

Ensure that children who are too young do not handle the hamster.

Children younger than 7 are not suitable to handle hamsters because they are prone to rough housing.

Hamsters that are uncomfortable will also tend to nip, as would those which are not tame

Some hamsters are nocturnal.

Some hamsters may be nocturnal, which may not be suitable for households with you g children that might want to interact with it often.


Breeding ethics

The ethics of breeding have always been a concern because of profiteering and abandonment at animal shelters.

there are some things that many of us should be conscious of when breeding.

Breeding for money and numbers

Responsible breeding, with better quality food and grain, would cut into profits. breeding in huge quantities for the pet industry would be less than responsible. Such breeders are not considered ethical.

Breeding because of love of pets

Owners may love their pets and want more of them. Breeding without considering if the large numbers can be coped with, or looking for homes for them is less than responsible. Large numbers resulting from over breeding end up in shelters.

Breeding to make color

This may not be acceptable because it seems self-centered and experimental, without consideration of the welfare of the animals.

While thee are breeders who specialize in a particular variety or color, breeding just to get that color as a goal is questionable.

Syrian Hamster
Syrian Hamster | Source

Popular hamster breeds

There are many hamster breeds, but these five make popular pets. When considering a breed, these can be borne in mind.

Syrian Hamsters

These pets are easy for younger children to handle and come in a variety of coat colors. However, wild ones tend to nip. They are also nocturnal and might be less suitable for younger children to look after. They are also not social with other hamsters and should be kept apart. They average four to seven inches when grown and have very short tails.


Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamsters

They are more sociable than Syrians and can be kept in pairs of the same sex in cages. Howeer, they are not responsive to handling and might nip. Ensure that a child is supervised when handling.

These hamsters are small and grayish brown. They have a darker strip of color along the spine and a cream somach. They grow to a maximum of 4 inches and live about two years.

Dwarf Winter Russian Hamster
Dwarf Winter Russian Hamster | Source

Dwarf White Winter Russian Hamters

Like Dwarf Winter Russians, this breed is good if the household has children because they are active during the day.Thy bite when nervous and should be handled carefully.

The come in coats of sapphire, pearl and sapphire-pearl. They have a gray undercoat and a gray stripe along the spine.They are small and measure only 31/2 to 4 inches.


Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters

This is the smallest of the breeds measuring only 11/2 to 2 inches. These are small and sweet creatures which do not nip. however, they are better for observation because their sheer lack of size and agility make them difficult to handle.They are also sociable.

Chinese Hamster
Chinese Hamster | Source

Chinese Hamsters

These are similar in size to dwarfs but are not true dwarfs. Their body type is similar to that of mice.

These creatures are sociable with humans, but might fight with other hamsters. They either have an agouti coat with a brown back, or are all white with spots.


Hamsters my not be the most huggable of pets, but are great pets and fun to watch.


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    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Audrey!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Hi Michelle! Lovely piece--I love hamsters!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thans, Monis!

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Oh. That's a bit unfortunate, Girishpuri! Thanks for sharing!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Very useful hub, Michelle, although Hamsters are not found in India, in the region where i stay. useful hub.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Linda! Ah, the dog, cat, and owl must have come up a few times. LOL!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I had a hamster once. Actually two and they made a few babies. They are cute little critters. Faith hasn't asked for a hamster yet, she has asked for about every other pet possible. Ha!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It is hard when a pet with a shorter life span leaves before we do. Nonetheless, we have done our very best to give them the best lives we can, and that's what counts! Thanks, Dianna!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Nell! Hamsters are great!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I had many hamsters as a young child, if I only knew then what you have told me today I would have had less tearful moments. Knowing how to pick a young, healthy hamster would have made a difference. Great post and voted up.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      This is great michelle! I used to have hamsters, they are so sweet! great information, and so important. I also had a rat, 5 mice and then another rat, different color, different temperament! lol! voted up and shared! nell

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Mine died of a cataract. LOL! Hamsters are wonderful, entertaining and emotional creatures.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, DDE!

    • profile image

      tattuwurn 4 years ago

      I remember having a couple of hamsters... mine bore four offsprings. While I was attempting to clean their cage the mother bit me and my finger bled a bit. Maybe she thought was going to pick up her babies. But eventually we sold the other two as they grew up. I miss having hamsters, and as you mention time, too bad I don't have it right now even if I'm working at home. Great hub! Voted up and useful. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great advise on hamsters for anyone interested in having one interesting and dinformative

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, freecampingaussie!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Travmaj! Well....considering that a close relative of the hamster is a rat.....

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pamela!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Wonder how they go about on those wheels without feeling giddy, Mary!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Ruchira! They're cleaner and actually good training for kids. Teaches them a bit of responsibility without being so overwhelming!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Guess the weather then was pretty extreme, peach purple!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Bill! Yes, every kid has had one. I had Wilbur, and he died of old age and a cataract! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine! Hamsters are cuties. Had one named Wilbur, who died of a cataract!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      An informative helpful hub for those wanting hamsters. They are so cute & we had them + many other pets over the years ! Voting you up.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      This is a very informative hub - what beautiful sweet creatures. We had guinea pigs when the children were young but not hamsters. I had no idea there were so many different kinds. Totally fascinated. (I'd like one but don't think Nell would be impressed!) Thank you for this Michelle. Voting.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is very interesting and a lot of good information. My boys had hamsters when they were young, but there several things I did not know. Voted up.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      My kids all had Hamsters when they were growing up. I never knew there were so many different kinds. I like to see them go round and round on their wheel!

      Voted UP and shared.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      such useful information, michelle.

      My kid has been asking for a pet and hamsters being less work (i think) will be the one!

      Sharing it across

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i had rear 6 hamsters once. All died due to cold.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You know, I have never had a hamster. How has that happened? LOL I swear every other kid I have known has had one. I'm feeling a bit deprived right now. :) Well, if I did choose to get one, this is a great source of information.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Didn't know much about hamsters just want I knew from others who had them as pets when I was a kid, but you really shared some valuable information for all that may be thinking of getting them as a pet or even to breed. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      On the ins and outs of breeding hamsters.