There are about 20 species of hamster, however, only a handful are suitable for being kept as domestic pets. All of them come from the 'Old World', (Europe and Asia) and each species usually bears the name of the country that it is found in. Hamsters are rodents, like rats, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, guinea pigs and chipmunks.
This means that hamsters have chisel-like front teeth that grow throughout their lives. For this reason, hamsters, like all rodents, must gnaw on hard objects to keep their teeth from overgrowing. (The word, 'rodent', means 'one who gnaws').
Rodents are divided into three main groups; the 'Squirrel like' rodents', (Scuiriomorpha), the ' 'Guinea Pig like rodents', (Caviamorpha) and the 'Mouse like rodents', (Myomorpha). Hamsters belong to the last group, the Myomorphs.
There are several species of hamster kept as pets but for practical purposes they can be split into Syrian hamsters and other species, (collectively referred to as 'Dwarf' hamsters by many people). Syrian hamsters are solitary and must be kept alone, while other species can usually be kept in groups of their own kind. The five main species kept as pets are below. Find out more about each species of hamster by clicking on an image below.
Popular Hamster Breeds
Campbell's Dwarf Hamster
Syrian or Golden Hamster
Winter White Russian (Siberian) Dwarf Hamster
Other breeds of Hamsters that are not usually kept as domestic pets:
Mouse-Like Hamster, Rumanian Hamster, Turkish Hamster, Turkish Hamster, Ladak Hamster, Chinese Striped Hamster, Mongolian Hamster. Eversmann's Hamster, Ciscaucasian Hamster, Tibetan Hamster, Lesser Longtailed Hamster, Armenian Hamster, Greater Longtailed Hamster.