10 Animals Similar To Hamsters

Discover the delightful world of small animals that share similarities with the beloved hamster. In the exploration of these furry friends, we’ll delve into the unique features and behaviors of creatures ranging from the sociable gerbil to the acrobatic squirrel.

1. Gerbil

Image by Meriones_unguiculatus_1.jpg: Alastair Rae from London, United Kingdom, derivative work: Berichard (talk) License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Mongolian Gerbils, a popular pet rodent, have much in common with hamsters, yet display distinct differences. Both small in stature, gerbils often stand out for their longer legs and tails, which suit their desert habitats, an environment different from the hamster’s preference for burrowing in more temperate zones.

While hamsters are largely solitary, gerbils are remarkably social creatures, thriving in the company of their own kind. This gregarious nature is a contrast to the more independent lifestyle of hamsters, making gerbils captivating companions for those who enjoy observing interactive pet behavior.

2. Guinea Pig

The Cavia porcellus, commonly known as the guinea pig, diverges significantly from hamsters in terms of care, size, and lifespan. As a domesticated rodent, guinea pigs are larger and have a longer life expectancy, often requiring more space and a longer-term commitment from pet owners.

Moreover, guinea pigs are highly social animals, desiring constant companionship, which is in sharp contrast to the more independent hamster. Ensuring guinea pigs have fellow cavy friends can be vital for their emotional well-being, whereas hamsters can live contently on their own.

3. Chinchilla

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The Chinchilla lanigera, known for its distinctively dense and soft fur, is another rodent that stands apart from hamsters in several ways. These nocturnal creatures often boast a larger size and can have a lifespan that far exceeds that of their hamster counterparts, sometimes reaching up to 15 years with proper care.

Chinchillas’ nocturnal habits and need for cooler environments reflect their natural high-altitude habitats, which differ from the typically warmer, burrowed environments that hamsters prefer. Their luxurious dense fur also requires specific grooming needs to prevent mats and tangles, setting them apart in terms of care requirements.

4. Mouse

The House Mouse, a member of the Muridae family, shares common ground with hamsters when it comes to being one of the preferred small pets. Their size and care are quite similar, making them a familiar choice for individuals seeking a petite furry friend.

However, unlike the typically solitary hamster, mice are social animals that benefit from living in pairs or groups. Their need for social interaction is a significant difference, making them more suitable for pet owners who are willing to manage a dynamic social environment.

5. Rat

Rats are often celebrated as the intelligent rodent among small pet enthusiasts, showcasing a higher level of cognitive abilities compared to hamsters. This intelligence enables them to perform complex tasks and respond well to training, offering a different experience for pet owners.

Additionally, rats typically have a larger size and exhibit an intrinsic need for social interaction. They thrive in the company of their own kind, whereas hamsters are content to live solo, making rats an excellent choice for those seeking engaging and sociable pets.

6. Chipmunk

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Chipmunks, falling under the genus Sciurus, showcase recognizable cheek pouches akin to those of hamsters, used for transporting food. They also share a common trait of burrowing, which is central to their living habits, just as it is for hamsters.

Despite these similarities, chipmunks have different habitat requirements and activity patterns. They often prefer outdoor environments with access to trees and show cyclic patterns of activity, engaging in semi-hibernation during colder months—a behavior not typically seen in hamsters.

7. Degu

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Octodontidae degus, commonly known as degus, emphasize the importance of a complex social structure, distinguishing themselves as social herd animals. In contrast, many hamster species exhibit a preference for a solitary existence, seldom requiring the same level of social interaction.

Moreover, degus are diurnal creatures, being most active during the day, which is a sharp departure from the predominantly nocturnal lifestyle of hamsters. This diurnal pattern can make them more aligned with the human schedule, affecting their interaction with pet owners.

8. Dwarf Hamster

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Within the hamster family, Phodopus species, or dwarf hamsters, present notable differences when compared to the common Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters are recognized for their small size, which is even more diminutive than that of their larger relative.

Behaviorally, while all hamsters have the potential to be solitary, certain dwarf hamster breeds are more inclined to tolerate—and sometimes prefer—living in pairs or small groups, unlike the Syrian hamster, which is strictly solitary. This variance offers pet owners more options when considering the social dynamics of their hamster pets.

9. Vole

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The genus Microtus, containing voles, shares some physical characteristics with hamsters, such as a compact, stout body and short tail. These tiny mammals bear a likeness that often leads to confusion between the two.

However, voles naturally inhabit field habitats, flourishing in outdoor environments, which is in stark contrast to the indoor dwelling preference of pet hamsters. As predominant grass-eaters, voles have a diet that is more specialized towards vegetation available in their natural surroundings, differing from the more omnivorous appetite of hamsters.

10. Squirrel

Unlike hamsters, squirrels are quintessentially tree-dwelling creatures, equipped with strong hind legs and a bushy tail that aid in their arboreal lifestyle. This adaptation for life in the treetops is one of the most prominent distinctions between squirrels and the burrow-favoring hamsters.

Furthermore, while hamsters can adapt well to life as household pets, squirrels are generally less suited to this role due to their high energy levels, natural instincts for wide-ranging exploration, and a varied diet that can be challenging to replicate in a home environment.