Mix And Match Hamster Species

Several types of hamster species are available, so is it safe to house different species together?

two hamsters in a cup
© Courtesy of Martha Boden 
Syrian hamsters should live alone, and dwarf hamster species (like those above) can only live with other hamsters of the same species.

Q: Which two or more hamster species get along best?

A: Thank you for such a critically important question. The answer is very simple: None of them!

There are no two species of hamsters that should ever live together in the same cage or come in contact with one another outside of their cages.

Sometimes people think that all hamsters are the same. But different hamster species actually have very different instincts, needs and behaviors.

A Chihuahua can live happily with a Doberman because they both understand the “language of dog.” Both are the same species and are much more alike than they are different. But different kinds of hamsters aren’t different breeds of the same animal like domestic dogs are. They’re entirely different species from one another. They share many common traits, of course, but their communication, behaviors and needs are not similar enough to let them share a cage together safely — and certainly not happily.

A Syrian hamster must live alone in his own cage after being separated from his mother and siblings, because Syrians are solitary animals. Aside from brief contact for mating, Syrian hamsters have no instincts that enable them to spend time together safely in nature or in captivity. Even siblings will see one another as threats, and they must move into separate cages before they mature at the age of 5 or 6 weeks. Forcing an adult Syrian hamster to live with or even interact with another hamster is cruel and dangerous. Sadly, it’s often deadly.

Dwarf hamsters can live alone or in pairs or small groups — but only with hamsters of their own species. Successful pairs or groups are usually same-sex siblings raised together or other youngsters paired by careful introduction and observation. Even though each dwarf hamster species is social by nature, dwarf hamsters that do not live in the same cage should not be in contact with one another. Any hamster beyond their immediate group of cagemates is perceived as a threat.

You can still have as many species in your home as you like. Proximity to one another in separate cages and play areas is rarely a problem, and even then can be managed by moving a particularly sensitive hamster’s cage to another room if needed. Hamsters quickly settle in and learn that their own home is safe.

Hamsters of all species are safest and most content when allowed to live as their instincts demand, and a contented hamster is a most rewarding pet.

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Hamster Facts And Answers
See all questions and answers about hamster behavior 
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Critters · Lifestyle