Do Hamsters Change Colors?

By Dawn | Hamster Facts
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A friend of mine, a fellow hamster parent, recently called me up in something of a panic because her beloved pet had started to develop white patches on her coat. Unsure of the problem, we decided to do a little research to find out, do hamsters change colors?

It is normal for hamsters to undergo a color change where their fur is concerned. It is more common in the Winter White species but Syrian hamsters may change colors too.  Color change happens for a variety of reasons; mainly to camouflage themselves to keep them safe from predators in the wild.

But as with any aspect of hamster care, it is essential to understand how and why this happens. With that in mind, let’s explore the topic in a little more detail.

Is It Normal For Hamsters To Change Color?

Syrian hamsters are among the most common species to keep as pets, with dwarf hamster varieties also being a popular choice. While the two species do both change color, this happens in different ways and for different reasons. 

So, depending on the type of hamster you have, you might notice slightly different changes. Either way, it is unlikely to be anything to be concerned about. 

Let’s begin with dwarf hamsters. Winter White dwarfs are sometimes known as Russian or Siberian hamsters, and they are beautiful creatures. They can range in color from a silvery grey with darker stripes or markings through to a brilliant white. This striking coloring is what makes them such a sought-after pet. 

In the wild, these hamsters live in a snowy environment, at least for part of the year. Since hamsters are relatively low down on the food chain, they need to protect themselves, and merely going underground isn’t always enough. 

For this reason, these hamsters’ furs change color during the winter months to camouflage them and make them harder to spot for predators. 

In captivity, this change does not always happen as it is to do with the amount of light that they are exposed to in the wild. 

However, that is not to say that captive Winter Whites will not undergo this change at all.  It is relatively common for a pet parent to notice a significant color change in their hammy. 

You will likely also notice that, once your hamster has turned lighter, their fur may revert back to normal once the spring months come along. This is all part of nature and nothing to be concerned about. 

Also, each hamster is different; some will turn utterly white, whereas others will develop white patches.

Onto Syrian hamsters. Unlike the Siberian hamster, these do not change color to match their surroundings; however, you might notice that your pet changes color over time. In this case, the color change is related more to age. 

As hamsters get older, the color of their fur may begin to change due to loss of pigment. This is very much the same process that humans go through; as we get older, we lose melanin, and our hair begins to turn grey. 

Hamsters also have melanin, which gives them their unique colors, and this can decrease as they get older. Once again, this is not anything to be concerned about. 

When Should I Worry About Color Changes In The Fur?

As we have discussed, a change in your hammies fur is unlikely to be anything severe and more likely a part of their natural life cycle. 

However, if this color change is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of fur, then there may be a cause for concern. If you notice that your pet is shedding fur, whether this is all over or in patches, it is a good idea to have them checked out. 

The problem could be something as simple as your hamster has been rubbing against something or scratching a little too much. In this case, it is likely that she has some sort of irritation, which you should address as soon as possible.

You could also try changing up your hamster’s bedding as allergies to this could cause their fur to start shedding. 

However, it is not uncommon for an unbalanced diet to result in loss, so it is worth thinking about whether your pet has been getting enough protein. 

More seriously, fur loss in a hamster could be related to mange, a skin condition caused by parasites, or even kidney failure, so you should make medical assistance a priority. 

Why Did My Hamster’s Eyes Change Color?

Hamster eyes can vary in terms of color, and what is typical for your hamster may be different from what is normal for my hamster. 

Again, you might compare this to humans; some of us have brown eyes and some blue, but both of these are normal. 

In hamsters, you will usually notice that they have either relatively dark eyes or red eyes, and it is crucial that you get to know what is normal for your pet. For the most part, the eye color will be nothing to worry about. 

However, there are times that a change in color should ring alarm bells as this might be a sign of a health problem. 

One of the main things that some pet owners notice is that their hamster’s eyes are turning white. In truth, the eye color hasn’t changed, but certain ailments could cause it to appear that way. 

For instance, scratches, inflammation, and tumors are all things that could cause this. If you do notice a change in your pet’s eye color, it is a wise idea to have them seen by a vet. 

These changes could be causing your hamster problems with their vision, or in some cases, it could be painful.

Related Questions

Do hamsters see in color?

Hamsters are able to see in various shades of green and yellow. They are designed this way so that they are better able to pick out certain foods. However, this does mean that hamsters find it challenging to see in shades of red. 

What smell attracts hamsters?

Hamsters are known for not having the best eyesight but have much greater senses of smell, so you can use foods such as apple, broccoli, or boiled eggs; these all have potent aromas that are likely to attract the hamster.  This may be useful in order to coax a hamster out of a hidey-hole, to visit the vet or while you clean out their cage.