Hamsters are a suitable pet for children and adults alike and with the different species of varying sizes and characteristics, together with the many colours available there is a wide choice available when choosing a pet hamster. However, not all hamster species are suitable pets for young children and in any case a young child will need the assistance of an adult carer to ensure correct care of any hamster.
The type of hamster suitable for a particular owner will vary and generally depends on several factors: the age of the intended owner, the number of hamsters required, the space available for the cage and of course, personal preference.
The Syrian Hamster is an equally suitable pet for both children and adults, and can be a suitable pet for younger children under supervision. It is the largest of the hamster species kept as pets making in the easiest to handle and is usually tolerant in nature. The Syrian Hamster is solitary once it is mature and so although it may appear to be living happily with others in the pet shop it will require a cage of its own as its solitary nature will already be developing.
Dwarf russian campbells and dwarf winter white russian Hamsters are much less tolerant of clumsy handling than the Syrian Hamster and so are not a suitable pet for younger children. This fact, together with their small size and lively nature means they are a pet more suited to older teenagers and adults. Russian hamsters are socialable and therefore prefer the company of another and so are best kept in pairs or small groups. Keeping a single Russian hamsters on its own is thought to shorten its lifespan.
Chinese hamsters, although small, require a relatively large cage. They are usually very placid natured and tend to be "quiet" and less lively when handled than the other species of hamsters and so are more suitable for young children than Russian Hamsters. However, due to their small size and timid nature they can be difficult to catch and a young child will find a Syrian Hamster a more suitable pet.
Roborovski hamsters are extremely small and fast making them very difficult to handle even by adults. They are sociable and an amusing pet to observe because of their lively and fast nature but they not a pet that is easily handled. Roborovski hamsters also require a large cage due to their highly active nature.
In all species of hamsters the males are generally more even-tempered than the females and tend to be more "laid back". That is not to say females do not make suitable pets as they do, but generally males make a better pet for a young child. Female Syrian Hamsters can emit a strong musky smell around the time of coming into season and therefore there may be more smell with a female Syrian Hamster which is not present with a male or with the other species of hamster.