Apr 112014
 

Hamster hair (or hamster fur) and hamster colors come in a wide variety because there are so many different species of hamsters. However, the five most popular species as pets are: the Syrian, Winter White Russian Dwarf (Djungarian), Campbell’s Russian Dwarf, Roborovski and the Chinese.

Let’s look at the hair and color of each type of hamster. You’ll surely find one that describes your hamster!

black Syrian hamster

Lucia by Heidi Terese

Syrian Fur Colors

The Syrian is by far the most popular hamster and the most varied, in terms of fur. There are also many Syrian hair colors, but they fall into two categories: the self and the agouti.

The self Syrian hamster means its entire body is the same color except in the typical spots such as chin, paws, and mustache. Typical examples are black, cream, and sable.

Golden Syrian hamster

Sydney loves to pose

 

The agouti Syrian has crescents and cheek flashes which the self doesn’t. Typical examples are grey, cinnamon or yellow, or golden.

 

 

Syrian Hair Length

Syrians have either short or long hair, and there are no Syrians with medium length hair. If you see some breeders say theirs have medium length hair, they are just tufts or a long skirt.

Generally, a long-haired female has a lengthier coat than a short haired one, and there will be some tufts on the ends of its hair. A long-haired male hamster, on the other hand, has a flowing skirt. The skirts of these long haired hamsters are lighter than the rest of its body, as it is diluted along the hair’s length.

Syrian Hair Patterns

The different Syrian hair patterns include roan, banded, and dominant spot.

  • A roan looks like a white hamster with color that is concentrated on its head, then gets lighter as it goes toward the rear of the hamster.  There can be just a little color or a lot of color, depending on the hamster
  • Banded hamsters often have a straight band of color around the middle of their bodies.
  • Dominant spot hamsters, as the name implies, has a prominent spot, or spots of color evenly spread all over their bodies. Some Syrians have just a few spots while others have so many spots they have very little white fur showing.

Russian Dwarf Hamsters: Winter White

Winter White hamster

He is so fat… by Jannes Pockele

Russian Dwarf hamsters include two main types: the Winter White (Djungarian) and the Campbell’s.

The Winter White Russian Hamster is typically dark grey with a black dorsal strip running along the center of its back. The fur on its belly is usually white or off white. Unlike other hamsters, their fur can change its color into white during winter. This was very useful when these hamsters lived in the wild. But don’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen to your Russian dwarf, as captivity may have bred this change out.

The Sapphire Russian hamster is soft purple-grey with a grey undercolor and thick grey dorsal stripe with an ivory belly. The ear hair is light grey-brown.

The Pearl Russian hamster has a white pattern with colored hairs throughout its fur.

Campbells Russian Dwarf hamster

Wallace eating on Emily’s lap” by Roban Kramer

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters come in a wide variety of fur colors. These can include the usual grey-brown wild color, sandy with white belly, blue-grey with white belly, and black all over.

What makes them more interesting is the different types of coats they come in, including:

  • Normal: short and flat
  • Satin: shiny which makes the hamster look wet or greasy
  • Wavy: somewhat long and wavy; the coat changes to a normal coat over time; curly whiskers
  • Rex: short, soft, and curly; the coat and whiskers remain curly when they become adults
Roborovski dwarf hamster

Dave the Hamster By Philip Roberts

Roborovski

The original or typical robo will be sandy brown with a white belly. This is also referred to as agouti. You will also notice the white area over its eyes. Some people refer to these as the robo’s “eyebrows.”

The other type you might see is white faced. Obviously, this type Roborovski has a white face and body, although its body may be almost completely white or have a small tan area on its back.

Chinese hamster

nobby 2 by girlalive1

Chinese

The two most typical colors for Chinese hamsters are normal and dominant spot.

The normal Chinese hamster color is what you find when the hamster is in the wild. It is a mahogany gray-brown fur with a concentration of a darker brown color along its upper body. There may even be a stripe of black hair along its back.

The dominant spot Chinese hamster has a base white color with patches of the normal color across the upper part of its body. It may also have the stripe of black along its spine.

The Chinese hamster tail, for which they are known, is about an inch long and is hairless.

Summary

Hamsters come in all different colors. But most people pick their hamster based on its personality, regardless of color. And remember, no matter what hair color your hamster has, it’s still fun to gently pet it!

To best see your hamster hair, keep it in an aquarium cage. Read Using an Aquarium for your Hamster Cage for more information.


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Feb 062012
 

It’s useful to understand the hamster anatomy. When you are choosing a hamster cage and when planning what’s inside the hamster habitat it’s helpful to know how a hamster is put together. Knowing about the hamster body also tells you something about hamster behavior and lets you know where to start looking for hamster illness.

Below is information about each part of a hamster’s body.

Teeth

The hamster is a type of rodent and all rodents share one important characteristic – their front, or incisor teeth. These chisel-shaped teeth continue to grow throughout the hamster’s entire lifetime. That means hamsters must keep gnawing on things to properly file and sharpen those incisors.

When it comes to hamster cages, that means:

  • Watching your hamster to be sure it’s doesn’t gnaw its way out.
  • Providing chew toys so it can gnaw its teeth every day.

One condition to look out for is overgrown hamster teeth that can grow and cut through your hamster’s mouth. Read Look for Hamster Overgrown Teeth for more detailed information.

Cheek Pouches

The word hamster comes from hamstern, a German word meaning ‘to hoard’. This is where the cheek pouches come in. Hamsters maximize the use of their cheek pouches to gather and carry food and nesting necessities from one place to another. Almost half of a hamster’s body weight can be stored in those pouches.

Food storage was essential in the wild because hamsters put their food in hidden storage until it was needed when the supply of food was at its lowest level. Even your pet hamster, which gets fed every day, will exhibit this hoarding behavior. The hamster’s check pouch lining is tough and dry to ensure that food which is stored will always be fresh and dry.

Hamster body

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Eyes

Despite having large and protruding eyes, which you would expect from an animal that typically only comes out at night in the wild, hamster eyesight isn’t that great.

During the daytime, they are practically blind because of the brightness. They are also color blind, meaning they see only shades of black and white. And they are nearsighted, meaning they can see things very near to them, but not far away.

This can be a problem if you have a hamster cage with many different levels. Your hammy will be able to see the edge of a high platform, but can’t see the bottom of the cage below. If your hamster falls off a high platform, he or she can break its bones.

Ears

Hamsters have a very developed hearing system as a compensation for its poor eyesight. Hamster ears can hear various sounds including ultrasonic frequencies which we humans cannot hear.

You’ll notice that the ears are high up on the hamster’s head. That helps them hear any approaching danger – as well as your voice. When they hear what they think is danger, a hamster will freeze. When talking to your pet, please speak softly. And choose a quieter area of your house when locating your hamster cage.

Hamster ears are very thin and delicate so remember to handle your hamster’s head gently when holding it.

Nose

Hamsters have an acute sense of smell. They actually use discreet pheromones or scents that are from their own bodies to tell each other apart. Their keen sense of smell also helps them find food, in case you were wondering how a hamster knows and remembers where it has hidden or hoarded its food.

The hamster can also smell you. If your hands have the scent of food, this may be the reason your hamster is nibbling at your fingers. Or, if you have played with a different pet, your hamster may smell the other pet and be afraid to be held in your hands.

A good idea is to wash your hands before playing with your hamster. hamster being held

Hamster fur

Different hamsters actually have different types of fur.

There is the typical short hair which is associated with most hamsters. But some hamsters have the satin type fur that is smooth, shiny, and short.

Then you will find long-haired hamsters, such as the Teddy Bear hamster.

Hamsters are usually very good about keeping their fur clean and smooth. The bedding materials you use, however, can get caught in the long-haired fur. An occasional gentle brushing can help pull out any tangles. If your hamster’s fur looks matted, it may be an indication of illness.

A hamster can lose some fur because of seasonal changes in temperature. This is typical. Older hamsters also tend to lose some fur. And hamsters that are nursing may lose fur around the areas used for nursing.

If you notice any other hair loss on your hamster, check the hamster skin for some underlying skin problem. Also check that your hamster diet has enough vitamins and proteins to prevent premature fur loss.

Hamster skin

It’s not easy to see the hamster skin because it’s covered in fur. But when you get to peek under the hamster fur you should see pink skin color.

Watch out for red or swollen skin which can indicate skin disease. This may be a reaction to the type of bedding you are using or the type of food your hamster eats.

Mites are another common skin disease among hamsters. Pet stores sell anti-mite spray which may help your hamster with this disease.
hamster care book

Hamster Feet / Paws

Your pet’s feet, also called hamster paws, are like hands to them. They are small and short, although usually in proportion to their body size. The paws have small claws that make it easier for them to use. Your hamster will use their paws for holding food, burrowing into its bedding, climbing, and running.

Hamsters can get a condition in their feet known as bumble foot. This foot infection can make the hamster paws swell up. If untreated, this disease can even spread to the hamster’s legs.

The problem could be caused by a wire floor in the cage or a cage that has not been kept clean. Keep the bedding you use in your hamster cage dry, and clean out your hamster cage weekly to help avoid this foot condition.

Hamster Tail

Last, and sometimes least, is the hamster tail. For most Syrian and dwarf hamsters, the tail is very, very short. It’s really more of a little stub than a tale. You can’t even see it unless you look very closely.

The Chinese hamster is the only type of hamster that has a tail you can actually see. It doesn’t have hair and grows to be about an inch long.

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