As an owner, it’s only natural you want to observe the dwarf hamster habitat to make sure you are recreating it as closely as possible for your favorite buddy. For many people who aspire to have a pet hamster friend, the amount of information you have to know about them might not seem like a lot, at first.
While hamsters and especially dwarf hamsters are really friendly rodents, getting one to actually grow to like you and enjoy playing with you is a whole different thing. Therefore, we thought we’d look at some basic steps for getting a dwarf hamster to be friendly and for you to enjoy your new-found friend.
Basic information about them
Hamsters are easily distinguishable from other rodents due to some special characteristics like the short tail, stubby legs, or small ears. They can come in a range of different colors from black to brown and even yellow and red.
There are 24 known species of hamsters which can reach different sizes. The most common pet hamster is the famous Syrian, also affectionately referred to as “the teddy bear hamster”. This breed can reach about six inches at the peak of its adult growth.
The cheek pouches are one of the best ways to recognize a hamster. If it seems like its head is double the size of its body because of the amount of food it stuffed in there, that’s usually going to be a hamster.
They are high energy pets which are very friendly toward humans. It’s also very easy to train a hamster, provided it was born in captivity since it’s a curious rodent which will make for a trainable partner.
Types of dwarf hamsters out there
There are two types of “official” dwarf hamsters out there, with a lot of similarities and a few differences between them.
The first breed is the Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamster and the second one is the Russian Winter White dwarf hamster. Campbell’s are the more popular choice because they are very friendly toward their new roommates and really easy to tame. They are generally dark brown with a narrow stripe on their backs.
The Winter White is very similar except for one distinctive feature which really sets it apart. This breed has the ability to turn white in the winter, an ability developed to hide it from predators out in the wild. They are rare so they’re always the least popular choice between the two types.
Rules to know
For the best results, you should purchase them when they are between four and six weeks of age. If companionship is your goal, never buy an adult hamster because they will never be as friendly as a newborn. Furthermore, an adult may have already acquired some bad character traits that you may never change, so buy one that’s just been weaned by its mother.
When you first bring your new friend home, the best way to begin the relationship is to leave it alone for a full twenty-four hours before you start interacting with it. This way you give the hamster time to adapt to its new surrounding and it will be much more comfortable once you steadily approach it.
When it comes to feeding, you really need to get what they can and can’t eat down to a science. Also, hamsters are nocturnal creatures so what this means is they will more than likely sleep throughout most of the day. However, after the initial few days go by, you will find them to be friendly and docile creatures if you get close to them properly.
For the initial approach, wait until they are up sometime during the evening. You wouldn’t want somebody waking you up in the middle of the night and making acquaintances, right? Neither do them, so you should really just bide your time.
Even though energetic, hamsters don’t like loud noises or loud voices, so keep that in mind. If you want a happy and stress-free friend, keep the loudness down around it. Also, never put the hamster’s cage under a ceiling fan or in a drafty area, as it can catch a cold very quickly, even from you.
Differences from other types of rodents
You may ask yourself what if you should buy gerbils instead of hamsters? How do you know which one is best for you? The short answer is, you can’t know until taking it home. Unless you’re adopting from a shelter, in which case you have to hope that it’s well behaved, active, and sociable, there’s really no way to know what kind of hamster you’re going to have.
All hamsters are friendly, but dwarf hamsters and especially their two Russian sub-breeds really take it away with this. As opposed to a regular Syrian hamster, which tends to sleep a lot, Winter Whites or Campbell’s dwarf hamsters can be fountains of energy. Be warned though that because of this they may also require more maintenance.
Their activity period is another thing that sets hamsters apart. If you are simply looking for an active hamster, we’ve given you a few choices above. However, as we said, all hamsters are mostly nocturnal creatures so if you want a rodent that’s awake and active during the day, you should think about a gerbil or a pair of mice, especially females.
The amount of time you can give to them is also a variable here. Hamsters, dwarf hamsters, gerbils, and other small rodents require much less maintenance than a rabbit, a guinea pig or a ferret. Make your choice while taking this factor into consideration. If you want a high maintenance pet which really requires your constant presence, your friendly dwarf hamster is not that great.
Not there yet?
If you have been following all this advice and you’re still not best buds with your dwarf hamster, chances are something’s not going the way it is supposed to. Think carefully about whether you’re doing something wrong. Are you spending time daily trying to get to know your new friend? Are you trying to get it to be sociable during daytime when all it wants is to sleep?
What about its diet? Are all your hamster’s food and water needs being met? Furthermore, we hope you remembered the fact that the best time to start knowing each other is somewhere in the four to six weeks range after birth. If you’re doing all this and still getting nowhere, chances are you just need to be a little more patient.
Sometimes it’s not us, it’s the environment they have to adapt to. Maybe you have another pet that is keeping your new dwarf hamster from becoming friendly. If you own a cat or a dog, they might actually attempt to harm it so you really need to pay attention. Also, dwarf hamsters are really nimble and agile creatures which can escape from mostly anywhere.
Because of this, an escape-friendly cage is something you should really invest in. Be realizing there is nowhere to go, your new friend will also start feeling more secure and relaxed, which will, in turn, lead to a happier, friendlier relationship between you two.