Your hamster’s birthday is coming up and you’re very busy looking for dwarf hamster cage accessories to get it for a present. Even though all hamsters are cute little round balls of fur, dwarf hamsters are especially hug-able and make you want to drop everything just to play with them.
As any good owner will know, understanding your pet’s needs and wants is very important if you want to be able to take good care of it. Therefore, you might have wondered where exactly dwarf hamsters come from and how they transformed into the most adorable pet out there. If this is something that makes you curious, keep on reading to find out.
Some basic facts
Hamsters are distinguishable from other rodents due to some specific traits like the short tails, the small ears, and the stubby legs. They can have many different colors, including black, brown, yellow or red.
There are 24 species of hamsters, with the European species being able to grow as large as 13.4 inches long. The most common pet hamster is the Syrian hamster, also known as “the teddy bear hamster”. This species can usually grow to about six inches.
A dwarf hamster is a great pet for children above a certain age and even adults. They are cute little animals which are about half the size of a regular Syrian hamster. Their trademark cheek pouches are used as food-stuffing spaces and you will also see them completely filling them, thus giving the impression that their head is much larger compared to their body.
They make for a popular choice as a pet due to their high energy level and friendly attitude. If you have a member of your family who is not content with simply having a pet that sleeps for most of the day, a dwarf hamster is a perfect gift. When born in captivity, this species is also fairly easy to train.
If you’re planning on buying one for your child, you should really only get it for children ages ten or above as anything less than that will not make for a good partnership. A curious and friendly kid will get along great with a curious, trainable dwarf hamster.
Types of dwarf hamsters
Officially, there are three types of these cuties: The Roborovski dwarf hamster and the two Russian breeds, the Winter White and Campbell’s dwarf hamster. Breeders are also able to create a hybrid by mixing the Winter Whites and the Campbell’s. There’s also a fourth species named the Chinese dwarf hamster. It’s more rat-like and not related to the other three.
Hamsters make great first pets for people of all ages, including children, since they are relatively low-maintenance and have such playful personalities. Nevertheless, they do require your attention, care, and a wide array of accessories, including a comfortable dwarf hamster tank to sleep in if you truly want to make them happy.
If you decided to adopt a furry rodent, you should know that there are various species and subspecies, depending on their size. Dwarf hamsters are the smallest but we don’t recommend them for small children or toddlers as they are sensitive.
Also, due to their small dimensions and mischievous behavior, they can easily get away from their cages or nip people if they are mishandled or stressed. However, if you still want to expand your family and welcome a new dwarf hamster into it, here is how to choose the best breed.
Roborovski dwarf hamster
The Roborovski or “robo” dwarf hamster is the smallest hamster species which can be kept as pets. Even when reaching adulthood, it measures less than three inches. In the wild, you can find this species in the deserts of Russia, northern China, and Kazakhstan. Their diet consists of vegetables, fruits, grains, and even meat in small amounts.
They are very fast and very active pets which you will often find running on the wheel. Studies have shown that they can run as much as four human marathons on an average night, so the equivalent of more than a hundred miles!
Their average lifespan when being kept as a pet is about 3 years with the possibility of more if they are well taken care of. Robo dwarf hamsters should be bred quite early, about four months for females and three months for males.
A quick search on the Internet will be enough to melt your heart once and for all as these creatures are simply adorable. They are the smallest of the dwarf hamster breeds and don’t usually measure more than two inches in length. However, they are stronger than other creatures and get to live up to three years, even more in captivity if they are handled with love and care.
These desert rodents usually sport a sandy-brown color and a white belly. Similar to other hamster breeds, they are extremely sociable and don’t mind sharing their cage with other same-sex individuals if they are used to from an early age.
Due to their reduced dimensions, the Roborovski hamsters are more susceptible to stress and may need more time until they feel comfortable in your presence. It is for this reason that some owners choose not to handle or pet these creatures unless absolutely necessary.
These hamsters are well natured and friendly but they are also known to be shy and run away and hide if they don’t feel comfortable around you. They are mainly active during the night and don’t make good companions for children or teenagers.
So, why all the fuss around these small animals? Most owners claim they are mainly attracted to robos because they are small, fast, and fun to watch. They are also easy to look after as long as you make sure the bedding and the entertainment toys inside their cages are appropriate for their small size.
Russian dwarf hamster
The name “Russian dwarf hamster” can refer to both of the breeds we mentioned earlier since they are very similar and are often confused for each other.
Winter white dwarf hamsters are also known as “Djungarian hamsters” and reach a maximum of three to four inches when completely grown. Their name comes from the ability to change their color from dark gray to white during winter seasons. Pet winter whites will not usually do the same thing.
In the wild, they can be found in places like Siberia, Russia, and Central Asia. They average short lifespans when in nature but when kept as pets these hamsters can live for about three years.
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters
This is the other type of Russian dwarf hamster and the most common dwarf hamster which can be found in pet stores. As we said, they are very similar to winter whites and even share the same locations. Campbell’s can be found in the wilds of Russia, China, and other parts of Central Asia.
As pets, they can live for up to 2.5 years and should be bred no earlier than three months. As with the Winter Whites, they can even reach up to 10 pups in a litter.
There are four different dwarf hamster breeds and most of them are available at your local pet shop. The Campbell is probably the most common little rodent you’ll encounter and it also displays a vast range of fur color patterns.
Adults don’t measure more than three inches in length and are mainly identified by a solid, dark stripe running down their backs. They don’t get to live for more than two years, and this is another reason why they don’t make great pets for children. Children easily get attached to animals and they will suffer after they lose them.
The name comes from the person who discovered them in Russia in the early 1900s and brought them to the United Kingdom for the first time. The breed has become popular all around the world in the past few decades, especially because it is quite easy to look after and individuals come in over 40 different coat colorations.
One of the distinctive traits of this breed is that the hamster’s feet are mainly covered by fur as opposed to all other breeds, which only makes them more adorable. These animals are very sociable with their own kind, so we generally recommend housing them in pairs of the same sex or opposite sex until breeding age.
The Campbell dwarf hamster is also curious, energetic, and lively. As with almost all other rodents, it is mainly active during the night, so we don’t recommend keeping its cage near your bed or even in the same room, especially if you’re a light sleeper or suffer from sleeping disorders.
Last but not least, these creatures are friendly and calm but are known to nip whenever they feel threatened or scared. Therefore, you should pick them up gently from their cage and pet them only after they accept and trust you.
Hybrid dwarf hamsters
As we said, Winter Whites and Campbell’s hamsters can be bred to obtain a hybrid which is valued for its attractive colors such as orange or pudding. However, this sub-species is prone to numerous health problems so crossbreeding the two types of Russian dwarf hamsters is still a controversial issue.
The Winter White Dwarf Hamster
Also known as the Russian dwarf hamster, the Winter White has an average life expectancy of two years but can live well in its fourth year when being kept in captivity and looked after properly. The hamster’s coat is very soft and less wooly by comparison to the previously mentioned breed, the Campbell.
Just like the name suggests, they are mainly white but other fur colors can appear too – black and grey, blue-ish grey, and various tones of white. Since they are originated from Kazakhstan and Mongolia, in the Ural mountains, it comes as no surprise that their fur matches the cold environment covered in snow, which provides the perfect camouflage for them all day long.
Although they enjoy living in pairs or in colonies, keep in mind that these dwarf hamsters are noisy and make a lot of squeaking sounds during the night. They are very sociable and can be generally kept inside the same cage with other hybrid breeds, without conflicts.
These small and furry creatures are usually curious and relaxed but this doesn’t mean they can’t become nervous if they aren’t used to your presence or feel threatened in any way.
Chinese dwarf hamsters
Even though not related to the dwarf hamsters mentioned above, this species which hails from China is often mistaken for one due to its size and appearance. Unlike the real dwarf hamsters though, which have small and flat tails, these ones have longer and thinner ones.
Originally from China and Mongolia, they don’t theoretically belong to the group of dwarf hamsters but they are usually put into this category due to their small size. Moreover, they are quite rare and hard to find, so don’t expect to find them at your local pet shop anytime soon.
However, if you do get to adopt a Chinese dwarf hamster, you should know that it usually lives between two and three years and doesn’t measure more than 3-4 inches in length. These individuals are dark brown on their backs and feature a black dorsal line and ivory bellies. However, their fur color may vary depending on genetic and climatic factors.
One one of their particularities is that they are the only dwarf hamsters to have a tail. Generally speaking, they are curious creatures and love to play, so make sure their cage is full of fun toys and accessories that will stimulate their curiosity and help them live a healthy and active lifestyle.
You’ll often see them sprinting around the cage, chewing or burrowing in bedding, so we advise you to change it at least once a week to keep it clean and smelling fresh.
According to specialists, female Chinese hamsters tend to be more aggressive than males and this is why they shouldn’t be kept with other individuals of the same sex, especially when they are expecting.
And, if you don’t want to be picking up names for baby hamsters in the near future, it would be best to only host one individual per cage. However, make sure the cage is large enough to support their energetic personalities – in this case, two-floor structures represent the best option.
Don’t forget that, similar to the Russian dwarfs, these too are prone to diabetes, meaning you should pay attention to their diets. They can easily get overweight and obese, so having a place to exercise and run is mandatory if you want your hamster pet to live a long and healthy life.
Nevertheless, they make great pets and can even be tamed if you have the patience and time for this.
Okay, but where do they all come from?
In the broadest classification, all hamsters are part of the order Rodentia, or what we more commonly know as “rodents”. The defining characteristic for members of this order is the presence of two incisors in the upper and lower jaws that never stop growing during their lifetime.
A large number of creatures fall in this category and they can be found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Nowadays, it is a common belief that some forty percent of all mammal species are members of the order Rodentia.
The Cricetinae subfamily is what we classify as regular hamsters and it contains, as we said earlier, some twenty-five species of them. One of the most recognized characteristics are those fabled cheek pouches we talked about. Hamsters thrive in the wild all over the world and are also extremely easy to breed in captivity, making them an unfortunate choice for laboratories.
The first hamsters were originally discovered in Syria, but they were also found in places like Greece, northern China, Belgium, and Romania. According to the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, they were first brought to the United States in 1936.
Dwarf hamsters fall in the genus called Phodopus due to their particularly small size. Even though they continue to be overshadowed in popularity by the Syrian hamsters, they are surprisingly social and friendly beings.
Dwarf hamsters are native to a number of ecosystems ranging from steppes, semi-deserts, forests, and a number of regions in China, Mongolia, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. Regardless, they are kept as pets all over the world due to their adaptability and people-friendly behavior.