Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Hamsters In The Family

By Catya
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.

Click image to enlarge
Syrian hamster in a tube
Photo Courtesy of Catya
Spoon, a Syrian hamster, has some fun.

You’ve heard me talk about keeping Campbell’s dwarves when I told you about Boo and Tom, so I thought that you might like to hear some stories about the other species of hamsters. My brothers and sister have also owned hamsters throughout the years, and I’ve learned about the other kinds of hamsters by watching them and their hamsters.

The first hamster in the family belonged to my sister. The hamster’s name was Gloria, and she was a Syrian hamster. The Syrians, sometimes called “golden” or “teddy bear” hamsters, are the biggest breed. Although I was very young when we had Gloria, I can still remember watching her explore all around the house in her exercise ball, sometimes even escaping from it!

Speaking of escaping, one of my brothers also had a Syrian, named Spoon. Spoon was an expert escape artist, and it seemed that no matter what we did to modify his cage, he found a way to squeeze, gnaw or climb his way out of it. Both Spoon and Gloria were very sweet and loved to play with us. Being Syrian hamsters, they lived alone –

Syrians are territorial. Instead of bonding to other hamsters, like the dwarf hamsters do, they bonded to us. Spoon loved my brother Joe so much that we all wondered if his escapes were just so he could play with Joe all the time!

My other brother owns a different kind of hamster – the winter white dwarf. Like the Campbell’s, winter whites are smaller than Syrians and live in groups of two or more. We all love to watch his hamsters play together, exploring and burrowing. They’re great at digging, and they make tunnels and cool nests. You might be wondering where the winter whites get their name. They’re called “winter whites” because when the hours of daylight decrease, their coats get paler and paler until they turn white. In the wild, the daylight hours decrease in the winter. As pets, most winter whites grow their winter coats in the summertime, when their owners close the blinds and turn off lights to keep the room cool.

Another interesting thing about the winter whites is their signature sound. Most hamsters don’t “talk” all that often or, if they do, their sounds are so high that humans can’t hear them. But when winter whites get scared or angry, they make a screeching sound, like a cicada. Partly because of this sound, winter whites are sometimes considered to be more skittish than Campbell’s dwarves. But my brother has spent so much time with his winter whites that they sit on his lap peacefully while he does his homework. In fact, whenever he enters the room, his hamsters stand up on their hind legs, waiting to play with him.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the kind of hamsters I currently own – the sweet but speedy Roborovski.

What about you? What’s your favorite hamster species?

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Hamsters In The Family

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wow- that's cool how you have had so many kinds of hamsters. Is there a kind you haven't had?
Twila, Moab, UT
Posted: 7/14/2008 9:26:33 PM
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