There are several different species of hamster that are kept as pets, but within those species different varieties, or ‘breeds’, have recently arisen. Each species of hamster has different coat colourations available. Syrian hamsters are available in all the different following types, but other species have more limited variation.
Syrian hamsters have become a very popular choice of pet
- Dominant Spot
Dominant Spot hamsters have a body that is mainly white, but with patches of a different colour on it. These spots may be many or few, and can be anywhere on the body.
Piebald hamsters are very similar to dominant spots, except that they have white spots over a different colour.
Banded hamsters are a very popular variety, with a little white band on their middle. The rest of the hamster will be coloured.
- Tortoiseshell Tortoiseshell hamsters have yellow spots over a different colour. This other colour will alter the shade of the hamster’s yellow spots - darker base colours will produce darker yellow hues. It’s useful to know that male hamsters cannot have tortoiseshell colouring, because they cannot possess the right collection of genes.
- Tortoiseshell and White These hamsters are very similar to tortoiseshells, except they must have patches of white on their body as well. Like the tortoiseshells, they have a main colour and yellow spots, and the precise shade of these yellow spots is determined by their main colour.
- Roan Roan hamsters are mainly white, but have specially-coloured hairs that have some areas of non-white pigmentation. Be really careful when breeding roans, because breeding two roans together will produce some malformed babies.
Banded Syrian hamsters come in lots of different colours
As well as these different hair patterns, some hamsters also have different hair textures: long hair, short hair, rex and satin. Syrian hamsters can have coats of any of the following variations - Campbell hamsters too can have the rex and the satin coats.
Hamsters can have very different fur lengths and textures
These little animals have much longer hair than any other commonly kept hamster - their individual hairs can grow up to nine or ten centimeters! Their locks will need to be brushed several times a week, which is a lot more than their short-haired counterparts’ coats require. Bear in mind that if kept long then this hair can limit bedding choices, as it can get very tangled in materials such as hay, limiting your hamster’s movement and causing them a lot of discomfort.
These animals have the coats that are nearest to their wild kind. The hair is short and easy to keep clean and tidy.
Short haired hamsters have similar coats to their wild ancestors
These animals have wiry, fluffy fur that makes them very appealing. Depending on their hair length, Rex hamsters will either have quite wiry or quite curly hair. It’s a good idea to bear in mind that if you have a Rex hamster, they are very susceptible to eye infections due to a likelihood of developing a slightly malformed eye. As with some other coat types, Rex hamsters shouldn’t be bred together, as their pups can develop severe eye problems.
These hamsters have very glossy hairs that give their coat a satin-like appearance. Satin hamsters have very thin hair, but are very visually appealing. As with Roans, we advise not to breed two different satins together, as they can have problems with their pups - in this case, very sparse fur.
There are some genes present in the hamster gene pool that owners should be very careful of. For example, the Roan or the White-bellied gene can cause serious birth defects in baby hamsters if there is more than one copy of the gene present in the pup. We strongly recommend learning about hamster genetics if you intend on breeding these animals. There are lots of good books available on the subject if you need any advice.