How many hamsters should you keep?

Hamsters are fascinating pets, almost resembling miniature bears. They all come with their individual characters and enjoy exploring their surroundings. With time and patience, some hamsters can even enjoy learning basic tricks.

How many hamsters you should keep depends on their breed. These are the five most common hamster breeds:

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The Syrian

The largest breed of hamster, Syrians come in a variety of colours and hair lengths.

Syrians are naturally solitary hamsters. They can become very aggressive towards other hamsters and even fight to the death if not separated at a young age. Syrian hamsters are always best housed as a single.

The Winter White

Winter Whites are grey with a black stripe down their back. These hamsters grow to be about 8cm in size and can be kept in pairs.

The Campbell

Campbell hamsters are a similar in size to the Winter White and can be seen in a variety of colours. Can be kept in pairs.

The Roborovski

The smallest of the breeds, Roborovskis are light brown and white. They can be kept in pairs, but it’s very difficult to determine their sex, making it more practical to keep them individually.

If you do choose to have Roborovskis as pairs or groups, it is extremely important that you are 100% confident that you have a same-sex group. They breed between August and October, so you will often find a pair will live like a same-sex pair for months and then, suddenly find an unwanted litter.

The Chinese

Colours vary from brown to grey. Chinese hamsters have a slightly longer tail and can be kept in pairs.

Hamster groups: what to look out for

Even if you choose a breed which can live in pairs or groups, it’s not always successful. Many owners find they have to separate their hamsters into singles later in life. Watch out for:

  • Regular squeaking or buzzing sounds
  • Chasing after each other regularly
  • Wounds

Separate your hamsters if these signs develop. Hamsters are very particular about their companions and prefer to be in family groups. It’s rare that they would accept a newcomer they’re not related to without serious fighting.