What’s the Difference Between Dwarf Hamsters and Syrian Hamsters?

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For the last several (human) generations, the Syrian hamster has commonly been kept as a pet. More recently, however, hamster enthusiasts have begun caring for dwarf hamsters – which are defined as any one of four hamster species. This article provides and overview of each of the five species.

The Syrian hamster is from the species Mesocricetus auratus. This hamster has gone by the names of black bear hamster, teddy bear hamster, panda hamster, and golden hamster. Yet, all of these are the same species of Syrian hamster. They are three to four inches long, and can come in long hair, short hair, or hairless varieties. These hamsters have been bred to be nearly tame. Although they are solitary animals and will fight with one another (to the death), it seems that they may actually enjoy human interaction.

The first species of dwarf hamster that has been gaining in popularity is the Chinese dwarf hamster – Cricetulus barabensis griseus. Of all the hamsters this one looks most like a rat. It has a long nose, a long narrow body, and a noticeable prehensile tail. Of all the hamsters kept as pets, this one is adept at climbing. If you choose to keep this dwarf hamster as a pet, then you should know two things. First, you need to give this animal lots of different places to hide – so-called “Hidey-holes.” Second, this dwarf hamster can flatten out its body and fit through and into small spaces.

The other three dwarf hamsters kept as pets are all members of the genus Phodopus, a word that means “padded foot.” The three species in this genus are Phodopus sungorus, Phodopus Campbelli, and Phodopus Roborovskii.

Phodopus sungorus and Phodopus Campbelli are often confused. They are distinct species, whose territories do not overlap in the wild, but both are commonly called Russian hamsters and Djungarian hamsters. In order to avoid the confusion, it is best to call them by their scientific names.

Phodopus sungorus has a more pointed nose then Phodopus Campbelli. In the winter time, when there is only a short cycle of daylight, the animals in this species can change the color of their coat to white in order to camouflage themselves in the snow. Another difference between the two genera is that Phodopus sungorus is a strictly nocturnal animal – arriving after dark, and returning to sleep before dawn.

Phodopus Campbelli has a profile that is often described as having the shape of the Roman nose. Dwarf hamsters in this species spend more time outside of their nests compared to Phodopus sungorus. In addition, Phodopus Campbelli is active from dusk to dawn.

The last dwarf hamster in the genus Phodopus is Phodopus Roborovskii, and it is the tiniest of all hamsters – measuring in at just around 2 inches (5 cm). This little critter is quite a sociable animal, preferring to live in groups. If you’ve ever seen pictures of hamsters stacked on top of one another like sardines, then you have seen a picture of Phodopus Roborovskii. This hamster is much speedier than any of the others, and, because of its size and energy level, is hard to catch and hold. As far as keeping this animal as a pet, the best advice is it is that this animal is meant to be watched, but not handled. If you have several of these animals (of the same-sex. of course) in the same cage, then you will delight in their antics and play. It is best to house these critters in an aquarium, as they can slip out of the tiniest of spaces.

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Source by Matthew A. Boreau

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