Differences Between Hamsters vs Squirrels


Squirrels are well known for their agile antics as they raid garden feeders in their quest for nuts – hamsters, on the other hand, are famous for filling their face pouches with food. But what else can help tell them apart?

3 Easy Ways To Tell Hamsters And Squirrels Apart

1: Fluffy Tail – Squirrels have amazing fluffy tails – but hamsters tails can’t be seen

2: The Way They Move – Hamsters are true scurriers – they can’t climb trees

3: Face Pouches – Squirrels can wedge a few acorns in their mouth – but hamsters are super-stuffers

Although this all sounds easy to say, what does this look like when one is right in front of you, and you have nothing to compare it to? How can you be sure you get it right? Usually, though, hamsters are pets, so many of these behaviors won’t be needed – as squirrels aren’t usually kept inside the home.

1. The Squirrel Has A Long And Bushy Tail

The tail of a squirrel is unmistakable. A long curved bushy tail that stands upright and fluffs up above their head like a cute umbrella. They can wag it from side to side and use it as a counter-balance when running in the trees. Even if it is sitting right in front of you – you can’t usually see a hamster’s tail. They are pink and naked if you were interested?

2. Squirrels Are Bouncy And Acrobatic In The Trees

Everyone has seen how agile and intelligent squirrels are in their natural tree-top habitat. However, they are more famous on TV for leaping through obstacle courses and along ropes in the hope of a free peanut. They can leap nearly a meter (3ft) off the floor straight up and can dangle upside-down from one foot while eating. On the other hand, Hamsters can’t jump at all, would fall off a fence – but they can hang upside down, briefly.

3. Hamsters Can Fill Their Face Pouches With 20g Of food

Hamsters have specially adapted face pouches for carrying their food long distances to store underground. They are estimated to cover 9km (5.5 miles) a night while foraging for seeds and grains. They can wedge 20% of their body weight in their faces – filling their pouches down to their waist. On the other hand, Squirrels have a normal mouth and can only wedge a few acorns in there – so they have to make more journeys.


Why Do Squirrels Live In Trees?

Tree squirrels have filled an ecological niche that means they can live, mate and feed in trees to keep them safe from many predators. Due to this arboreal lifestyle, they are very agile and can reverse their back feet to better grip trees on the way down to the ground. There are about 285 species of squirrel around the globe – but not all of them chose trees – plenty of ground squirrels decided against it and lived underground like hamsters.

How Many Different Types Of Hamster Are There?

There are only 19 hamsters in the world, and only 5 of those are classed as pocket pets. The Golden or Syrian Hamster is the largest and most popular. The Winter White (which really does change color in the winter) and the Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters are next in size and can easily hybridize. Smaller still are the Chinese and Roborovski hamsters at only 20g (.7oz).

What Is The Largest Squirrel?

The largest squirrel in the world is the Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) which can grow over a meter (3ft) long and weigh around 1.5kg (3.3lbs). The largest squirrel in North America is the Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) that still tops the scales at up to 1kg (2.2lbs) and, including the tail, can be up to a meter long too.

Are Hamsters Vegetarians?

Answer: No, hamsters are omnivores and will eat worms, bugs, and beetles if they find them

Do Squirrels Forget Where They Buried Their Nuts?

Answer: Yes, they can’t remember them all – and luckily, the ones they bury can grow into trees!

Do Hamsters Hibernate?

Answer: Not strictly a true hibernation, but yes, hamsters can fall into a very deep sleep if they get too cold. Always move a hamster to a warm room before assuming the worst!