Many of us wrongly believe that hamsters and rats are one and the same thing, or that they belong to the same family. But are hamsters rats? This post shall seek to clear this confusion.


Classification Of Hamsters

Hamsters belong in the family of rodents and are more specifically classified under the subfamily Cricetinea. The Cricetinea unit contains about 25 species. They mainly feed on seeds as well as fruits, vegetation, and occasionally eat burrowing insects. Hamsters have elongated cheek pouches that extend to their shoulders, and which they use to carry food back to their burrows.

These lovely pets also have stout-bodies, and their tails are remarkably shorter than their body. Also, hamsters have small ears. Other features that characterize hamsters include short, stocky legs, with wide feet. Also, they boast thick, silky fur, which is usually long or short depending on various factors such as their habitat. Their fur color may also vary according to their habitat. However, the most common fur colors among hamsters are black, white, brown, grey to honey, and yellow.


Some Fun Facts About These Adorable Pets

One of the most remarkable facts about hamsters is that they are small, furry, and cute. Hamsters are common household pets and are very easy to look after. They are also relatively flexible and have great reflexes that come in handy when they feel threatened. However, their bones are quite fragile. This makes them extremely susceptible to rapid temperature changes such as extreme heat or cold.

A common fact is that hamsters have poor eyesight as they are nearsighted and colorblind. You might have seen them wiggle their tiny, cute noses. This is because hamsters use their sense of smell to tell sexes apart and locate food. These pets are sensitive to high-pitched noises and can easily get frightened. Therefore, they may turn off an ecstatic child who would forcibly want to play with them during the day. They are also very naughty. However, their weak structure means that you should always be very careful to them.


What are Rats?

Rats are also part of the family of ‘’rodents’’. These gnawing rodents use their large front teeth to damage stuff around the house and generally like to chew anything they come across with. Rats are able to consume a variety of foods and can eat anything, from grains to meat. Their life expectancy stays around one year. However, this can increase if they find ideal conditions. Rats are also associated with filth and carry a host of potentially dangerous infections.

Any food that rats touch can potentially turn poisonous. Due to their flexible body, they can access anywhere around your house and contaminate your food. This is how they cause serious health problems.

Rats have poor eyesight. However, their senses of hearing, smell and touch are very sharp, and they use these to full extent. These little rodents can also memorize locations they have previously been to. Notably, rats can find elements of survival on those locations very quickly. They have proper camouflage methods, and this makes them easily able to hide from predators.

Like hamsters, some people keep them as pets. Rats go through proper breeding and training before being domesticated as pets. One of the most common species of pet rats is the brown rat. The behaviors of this specially-bred rat are very different from that of a wild rat. They are well-groomed and do not cause much health problems as compared to what their wild and even other tame counterparts do.


Differences Between Rats And Hamsters

By now, it is pretty evident that rats and hamsters are different from each other. It is true that they belong to the same family, but their differences are vivid. A rat is more massive in structure and has a hairless tail. On the other hand, a hamster is smaller and has wider feet and a hairy tail.

Rats are deadly and filthy animals, with the potential for causing a wide range of diseases to humans. Squalid places are some of their favorite hangouts and hide out joints. Hamsters are quite different. People consider them as little friends and find them to be captivating and harmless. And while hamsters prefer a dried diet and are mainly omnivores, rats can eat anything; from nuts to meat.

The fertility period among hamsters ranges from 4-5 weeks, depending upon their species. Hamster pups are born in large numbers, around 6-7 pups per litter. Newborn hamsters are born blind and hairless, and they wean around the age of 2-4 weeks.


Can You Keep Rats And Hamsters In The Same Cage?

It is always advisable to keep your rodents in separate cages. In general, pets like to live independent of one another. Indeed, it is more likely that they won’t get along with members of their same species, let alone other animals of a different species. There is a high chance of conflicts if you keep rats and hamsters in the same cage. Such conflicts can badly injure either pet and in the worst case scenario, could lead to death. If you still want to put them in the same cage, then you need to make them familiar with one another before doing so.

Keeping rats and hamsters requires lots of attention and care. Put their cages close to each other and observe how they try to interact with each other. You can also put them together in the same cage for a short period of time and watch how they get along. If aggression builds up, remove one of the pet and put it in another cage. If your pets like each other, put them in the same cage but you will still have to stay very cautious.

When you are keeping two pets in the same cage, make sure that the cage is relatively spacious. Stock it with ample food supplies and toys. This will minimize any chances of conflict. You can never keep different kinds of your pets at the same place and forget about them. Always supervise them and be very careful to any chances of conflict.



It is true that rats and hamsters are animals of the same family. They are cousins with slight similarities in appearance and habits. Rats and hamsters look quite similar, and both can be confusing at first. However, they have apparent differences in behavior and other finer physical attributes.

Hamsters are the better choice as pets as they are easier to look after. On the contrary, rats are known to wreak havoc in many homes. Their relentless chewing tendencies have not earned them any honor and favor among pet owners.


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