Vectis Hamstery and Exotics

Exhibitor and Breeder of Chinese Hamsters and Syrian Hamsters

Chinese Hamsters

Why do I Love Chinese Hamsters?

Chinese hamsters are my favourite of all the pet hamster species. I love their slender profile and curling tail. Their most enchanting quality is how they cling. They will cling onto clothing or a finger with their paws (and often their tails as well).

Chinese hamsters are gentle animals. They don't tend to sit at their cage door and ask to come out like a Syrian would, but they are lovely to handle.

Males are usually more laid back than females, and my boys will often hitch a lift on my shoulder while snuggling under my hair.

They have a reputation among dwarf hamster judges of being the hamster most likely to wee on them (which is pretty accurate!). Some judges refer to them (affectionately) as 'vermin' due to their resemblance to mice.


There are three standard colours/patterns of the Chinese hamster in the UK: normal, dominant spot and black eyed white.

Of these, the normal and dominant spot are most widely available.

 The normal colour of the Chinese hamster (also referred to as wild colour or agouti) is a mahogany brown covering the top third of the body with black ticking on the tips of the hairs. A dark dorsal stripe runs down the back of the hamster to the tip of its tail. The belly fur is off white. I have found that the normal colour tends to darken and become richer with age.

Angel aged 2 months

Angel aged 16 months

Angel aged 24 months

Unfortunately modern Chinese hamsters often are paler and show less mahogany than the standard demands. National Hamster Council breeders are working to improve this. The NHC standard for Chinese hamsters can be found here.
A dominant spot animal is a white hamster with patches of normal colour evenly distributed across the top surface of the hamster.

As with the normal colour, there is a dorsal stripe but this may be broken by white patches. Staining is a common fault in showing and is heavily penalised.
A black eyed white (BEW) Chinese hamster is an entirely white hamster with black eyes.

Like with the dominant spot, staining is heavily penalised at shows. A single spot on the ear seems to occur quite frequently at the moment in BEWs and is heavily penalised at shows. 

For more information about the inheritance of the standard colours/patterns in Chinese hamsters, please see the genetics section.

There are a few more colours which are more common on the continent, such as striped, collared and mottled.

Care of Chinese Hamsters

The care of a Chinese hamster is similar to that of any other hamster. They need a good sized cage with plenty to occupy themselves and free access to food and water. They are better housed in tank-style cages as small or young Chinese hamsters can squeeze through barred cages. They need lots of hidey holes in their cages as they are nervous in wide open spaces.

Fights between Chinese hamsters can become serious very quickly and lead to bad injuries or even death. Two of my 5 week old boys fought and one ended up needing surgery to repair the damage. 

Males can be kept together, but I would not recommend it for an inexperienced owner of Chinese hamsters. I personally prefer to keep my Chinese hamsters singly.

There's more information on keeping pairs here.


Chinese hamsters can be shy in their cages but do respond well to handling. They need to be encouraged out of their houses as they don't often demand to come out and play.

When they are used to you, Chinese hamsters love sitting on shoulders and hiding under hair. My hamsters' favourite spot is sitting underneath my top where they often will fall asleep.

There is information about handling Chinese hamsters