In total, there are at least 20 species of hamsters. They come from the subfamily of Cricetinae and are split into 7 different genera.
Hamsters come in small and large sizes, ranging from Syrian hamsters (at 6-7 inches long) to Roborovski dwarf hamsters (at 2 inches long).
Hamster species are divided by size, belonging to either standard or dwarf categories. If your heart is set on getting the smallest species, you’ll want a dwarf hamster.
What Are the Smallest Hamsters?
Some dwarf hamsters are more willing than others to socialize with members of their species.
We’ve looked at the most popular small hamster species. You can determine which hamster is right for you based on its temperament, physical characteristics, and care requirements.
1/ Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters
Roborovski dwarfs (also known as Robo dwarf hamsters) are the smallest hamster species.
They measure about 2 inches when fully grown and weigh between 0.71–0.88 ounces. However, they have the longest lifespan of all dwarf hamsters, averaging between 2-3 years.
Roborovski hamsters were originally discovered in the Asian deserts and parts of Russia.
Since then, they’ve been successfully tamed and can be found in pet stores worldwide. Hamster enthusiasts adore them for their petite size and cute looks.
While most Roborovski hamsters are sandy (light brown), they have various color combinations, including platinum, pure white, and a black body with a white face.
As for personality and temperament, Robo dwarfs are curious by nature, although they can be shy around strangers. They’re naturally docile and get along well with other pets, including other hamster species.
They’re quite quick on their feet and can be difficult to catch once they escape. However, they can be tamed and usually grow comfortable around people after a while.
Roborovski hamsters are small crepuscular animals that wake up at dusk and remain active at night.
Although they usually make small vocalizations, their late-night activity may cause noise disturbances due to running wheel activity. Avoid keeping an enclosure in your bedroom if you’re a light sleeper.
Robo hamsters are relatively low-maintenance pets compared to other hamsters. They make good caged pets for owners with limited space and some time to devote to their care needs.
While they’re not particularly cuddly, they do enjoy handling them occasionally. However, their size can make them defensive, so they can bite when scared or threatened.
2/ Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters
Campbell’s dwarfs (Phodopus campbelli) are a petite species of hamster native to the steppes of eastern and central Asia.
On average, they measure 3-4 inches long and weigh about 0.95 ounces when fully grown. Campbell’s dwarfs have a shorter lifespan of 1.5-2 years.
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters are the most common type found in pet stores, so their popularity has encouraged breeders to produce various color combinations.
There are over 40 variants of the Campbell’s dwarf, including sandy and ginger with red eyes, platinum, argentè, and black-eyed white.
Campbell’s dwarfs are good pets since they’re quiet and easy to keep.
Most are amiable and don’t mind being held and petted, especially if handled appropriately from a young age. However, some Campbell’s dwarf hamsters may nip you if they feel afraid or threatened.
Relationship with Other Hamsters
Unlike other hamster species, Campbell’s dwarfs are friendly with their kind.
However, according to Current Zoology, adult males can be aggressive toward one another and often fight to the death when kept together.
If keeping several hamsters in a shared cage, choose male-female or female-female pairs.
3/ Winter White Dwarf Hamsters
Winter white hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) are also known as the Djungarian hamster, striped dwarf hamster, Siberian hamster, and Siberian dwarf hamster.
They’re a small species native to several Asian countries, including Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan.
Their natural habitats are covered in snow for several months, so they’ve developed the ability to change fur color from grey to white as the winter season approaches.
On average, adult winter white dwarfs measure about 2-4 inches and weigh 1.1 ounces.
They have a life expectancy of 1.5-2 years, with captive hamsters living longer than wild hamsters. This is because they receive better care and aren’t exposed to extreme weather or predators.
Winter whites are night owls, although they can be active for short periods during the day.
However, they can be noisy at night when they’re most active, so get them a silent exercise wheel because hamsters run for miles each night.
Winter white dwarfs make good pets if you’re a first-time owner since they’re friendly, more tolerant, and less likely to bite than Roborovski and Campbell’s dwarfs.
Don’t squeeze them too tightly or frighten them during handling because this will make them defensive.
Winter whites dislike the company of other hamsters. However, they can sometimes be housed together if they were introduced at an early age. If not, they tend to be solitary animals.
4/ Chinese Dwarf Hamsters
Chinese hamsters (also known as Chinese striped hamsters) aren’t technically classified as dwarfs.
However, they’re in the same category as dwarf hamsters because they’re smaller than others. They measure 3-5 inches long and weigh around 1.1-1.6 ounces. Their average lifespan is 2-3 years.
Chinese Dwarf Hamsters were discovered in 1839 by Johann Anton von Schreber (a German zoologist).
This species is native to the deserts of Northern China, Mongolia, and parts of Siberia. They were introduced to America as pets in the 1940s.
Chinese hamsters are recognizable by their long, slender bodies and are the only species with a tail. While hamsters’ tails are usually barely visible, Chinese hamsters’ tails are an inch long.
They brandish a dark brown color on their backs, matched to ivory-colored bellies with a black dorsal line. However, other varieties feature a white coat with colored spots.
Chinese hamsters are social animals that enjoy the company of their species. Their active, curious, and playful personalities make them keen to learn about and explore their environment.
They’re fearful of loud noises and unexpected movements, but with careful handling and socialization, they can recognize their owners, learning that you’re not a threat.
While not as social as winter whites or Campbell’s dwarfs, Chinese hamsters thrive when kept in pairs. However, you should monitor them closely, as they can be territorial and get into fights.