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Old 12-10-2019, 12:47 PM   #1
Bryony
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Join Date: Dec 2019
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Red face Help! - Which breed?

Hi there

I am new to the forum and am hoping I can get some help deciding which breed of hamster is best for me (I apologize if you see similar posts often). It will be my first hamster (have owned gerbils/mice in the past), and I am unsure whether to get a Syrian or a Dwarf hamster.

I originally thought a Syrian would be best as I have read that they are easier to tame and are generally happier being handled. However I have made a bin cage that is 750 sq inchs and I do not know if this will be large enough for a Syrian?

I do not want my hamster to be unhappy and stressed so was wondering if anyone has Syrians that are happy in this sort of cage size or if you think I would be better off with a dwarf hamster? Also have people had good experiences with taming dwarf hamsters?

Thank you for any advice!!
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Old 12-10-2019, 02:25 PM   #2
Engel
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

First off that bin cage is perfect whether for a Syrian or dwarf. Just make sure it's also plenty deep enough for them to burrow. I've heard 10" of substrate for a Syrian being ideal although I'm sure a dwarf wouldn't complain. Lol.

There are 5 species of hamster. Syrian, Chinese, Russians being winter White and Campbell's and the the tiniest the Roborovski.

People think Syrians are easiest to tame but that's more down to their size I think. They get to about 6" and maybe people are more confident in handling a larger one as there not as fast and there's more hamster to hold on to. Aim for an 11" wheel for these guys.

Dwarf hamsters, specifically Campbell's and winter White are very common despite the fact they're known for biting. Most of this is due to fear but once someone gets bitten they're a bit worried about it happening again so avoid touching the hamster in general. These guys are often interbred as they're so closely related creating hybrids so a true winter White or a true Campbell's can be difficult to find. These guys are 4" approx. Aim for an 8" wheel.

I don't know much about Chinese hamsters. I know they have a tail and can be confused for mice. They too get to about 4" but unsure if that includes the tail. 8"-10" wheel is recommended. They're difficult to find and are quite timid.

Probably my fave, the Roborovski! These guys are super tiny, about 2" long. 6-7" wheel is fine for them. These are considered the hardest to tame because they are the fastest and most skittish of all the hamster species kept as pets. Often kept by enthusiasts and 'experts' generally people who know what they're doing because it can be very difficult. That being said, I have one (look at thread titled meet Niko) and he was basically tame within a month, and will quite happily sit on my shoulder or chill in my pocket.

Basically they can all be a pain in the backside and be scared, stubborn and nippy. It takes time and patience no matter which you choose. They're all individuals and those are just the stereotypes. Obviously some fit the stereotype and others don't.

I went to adopt a Syrian and saw this tiny robo and handled him, I knew it was meant to be. Don't limit yourself and pick a particular species, they'll choose you! (And have you wrapped around their little paw)
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Old 12-10-2019, 03:23 PM   #3
Chilli
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

All of my syrians which are from P@H have always been wonderful. Never bitten and had a gentle temperament. Even the nervous ones are management and easy to bring around with a bit of food.

I currently have a hybrid who is prone to moodiness (nipping), mild cage aggression and needs lots of space (hamster heaven). I am currently figuring out what makes him tick. I haven't had these problems with any Syrian. On top of this I need to be cautious with the food I am giving him (skipping on fruit) as he is diabetes prone. Despite this, he's probably the more exciting one to play with and more willing to interact. This may be dependent on his personality.

I personally would recommend a syrian first. Let the hamster come to you, if they are confident they will happily crawl all over you and not mind being held. This is the hamster you'll want. My Humphrey was nervous and jumpy. He is a nervous type and frequent handling helps although he'd prefer to live a life with minimal handling.

I think the bin should be fine initially. Humphrey was originally in a 50x40 cage and was fine (I know this doesn't apply to all syrians). Humphrey is now in a 80x50 and he's absolutely fine.
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Old 12-11-2019, 01:52 PM   #4
Bryony
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Smile Re: Help! - Which breed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Engel View Post
First off that bin cage is perfect whether for a Syrian or dwarf. Just make sure it's also plenty deep enough for them to burrow. I've heard 10" of substrate for a Syrian being ideal although I'm sure a dwarf wouldn't complain. Lol.

There are 5 species of hamster. Syrian, Chinese, Russians being winter White and Campbell's and the the tiniest the Roborovski.

People think Syrians are easiest to tame but that's more down to their size I think. They get to about 6" and maybe people are more confident in handling a larger one as there not as fast and there's more hamster to hold on to. Aim for an 11" wheel for these guys.

Dwarf hamsters, specifically Campbell's and winter White are very common despite the fact they're known for biting. Most of this is due to fear but once someone gets bitten they're a bit worried about it happening again so avoid touching the hamster in general. These guys are often interbred as they're so closely related creating hybrids so a true winter White or a true Campbell's can be difficult to find. These guys are 4" approx. Aim for an 8" wheel.

I don't know much about Chinese hamsters. I know they have a tail and can be confused for mice. They too get to about 4" but unsure if that includes the tail. 8"-10" wheel is recommended. They're difficult to find and are quite timid.

Probably my fave, the Roborovski! These guys are super tiny, about 2" long. 6-7" wheel is fine for them. These are considered the hardest to tame because they are the fastest and most skittish of all the hamster species kept as pets. Often kept by enthusiasts and 'experts' generally people who know what they're doing because it can be very difficult. That being said, I have one (look at thread titled meet Niko) and he was basically tame within a month, and will quite happily sit on my shoulder or chill in my pocket.

Basically they can all be a pain in the backside and be scared, stubborn and nippy. It takes time and patience no matter which you choose. They're all individuals and those are just the stereotypes. Obviously some fit the stereotype and others don't.

I went to adopt a Syrian and saw this tiny robo and handled him, I knew it was meant to be. Don't limit yourself and pick a particular species, they'll choose you! (And have you wrapped around their little paw)
Thank you for taking the time to give me all this information! It is great to have a summary of the different breeds and hear some positives about them all! I have also seen many tame dwarfs and robos online so I guess I shouldn't believe in their bad reputation
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Old 12-11-2019, 02:00 PM   #5
Bryony
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chilli View Post
All of my syrians which are from P@H have always been wonderful. Never bitten and had a gentle temperament. Even the nervous ones are management and easy to bring around with a bit of food.

I currently have a hybrid who is prone to moodiness (nipping), mild cage aggression and needs lots of space (hamster heaven). I am currently figuring out what makes him tick. I haven't had these problems with any Syrian. On top of this I need to be cautious with the food I am giving him (skipping on fruit) as he is diabetes prone. Despite this, he's probably the more exciting one to play with and more willing to interact. This may be dependent on his personality.

I personally would recommend a Syrian first. Let the hamster come to you, if they are confident they will happily crawl all over you and not mind being held. This is the hamster you'll want. My Humphrey was nervous and jumpy. He is a nervous type and frequent handling helps although he'd prefer to live a life with minimal handling.

I think the bin should be fine initially. Humphrey was originally in a 50x40 cage and was fine (I know this doesn't apply to all Syrians). Humphrey is now in an 80x50 and he's absolutely fine.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I am swaying towards a Syrian as I feel I would likely be more confident in handling one as my first hamster. I didn't realise I could potentially ask to handle the hamsters before purchasing them, it would be helpful to get a feel for their personalities!
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Old 12-11-2019, 03:59 PM   #6
Engel
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryony View Post
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I am swaying towards a Syrian as I feel I would likely be more confident in handling one as my first hamster. I didn't realise I could potentially ask to handle the hamsters before purchasing them, it would be helpful to get a feel for their personalities!
Oh yes I'd encourage you do! This is what I did with Niko and youll be able to observe them better and their personalities may come out more
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:38 AM   #7
Fluffagrams
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

I've currently got 5 Chinese, 5 Roborovski, 4 Campbells, 1 Winter White and 1 Syrian so have got experience with all five species.

For most people, I tend to recommend Syrians as they find their larger size makes them easier to hold but it depends on what you're looking for.

I wouldn't always say that Syrians are necessarily the most cuddly. Egg (my Syrian) would rather run all over me and the sofa whereas Elizabeth and Leo (both Chinese) are very cuddly and will snuggle up on my shoulder and go to sleep. In contrast Charlotte and Sammi (also Chinese) are cheeky, inquisitive and confident hamsters who love to play and explore.

Roborovskis can be difficult to handle because they are lively but they can be handled if you get them from a good breeder. All five of my Roborovskis will sit on my hand for short periods of time on my hand but usually enjoy walking from hand to hand. They're highly amusing to watch in their cages.

My Campbells and Winter White are nice hamsters and most are friendly... One Campbells has got grumpy in his old age so I tend to leave him be but the rest still seem to enjoy contact with me but do not sit like some of the Chinese do.

I'm not sure where you're located but at hamster shows in the UK, there is often the option to buy hamsters from Club Breeders and you're usually allowed to handle the hamsters before purchasing and the breeders will have bred from hamsters with a sound temperament so you stand a good chance of getting a nice hamster.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:08 AM   #8
Bryony
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fluffagrams View Post
I've currently got 5 Chinese, 5 Roborovski, 4 Campbells, 1 Winter White and 1 Syrian so have got experience with all five species.

For most people, I tend to recommend Syrians as they find their larger size makes them easier to hold but it depends on what you're looking for..........

Thank you for the advice, I have not seen many people with Chinese hamsters! I can't believe they will fall asleep on your shoulder that's so sweet It sounds like they can all have their own personalities, but I think I will likely go for a Syrian because as you said they tend to be easier to handle.

I live in Guildford and am having trouble finding a breeder near me. I will definitely look into where the Hamster Shows are, that's a good shout!
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:15 AM   #9
Fluffagrams
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryony View Post

I live in Guildford and am having trouble finding a breeder near me. I will definitely look into where the Hamster Shows are, that's a good shout!

Your nearest club is the Southern Hamster Club and you can find their show dates on their website: https://www.southernhamsterclub.co.u...ow-dates-2020/
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:17 AM   #10
Bryony
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Default Re: Help! - Which breed?

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Originally Posted by Fluffagrams View Post
Your nearest club is the Southern Hamster Club and you can find their show dates on their website: https://www.southernhamsterclub.co.u...ow-dates-2020/
This is super helpful, thankyou!
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