All About Dwarf Hamsters
By Adam King
The phrase dwarf hamster is commonly used to describe a group of hamsters that, although they share common traits, are quite unique in and of themselves.
All dwarf hamsters belong to the genus Phodopus, with the exception of the Chinese dwarf hamster – it belongs to a different genus altogether but is commonly referred to as a dwarf hamster because it shares so much in common with other dwarf hamsters.
The biggest difference between dwarf hamsters and Syrian hamsters is that dwarf hamsters tend to be far more social than Syrian hamsters. As you may already know you must never put another hamster in with a Syrian hamster, especially a dwarf hamster. The Syrian hamster is extremely territorial and will kill any other hamster that is introduced to its cage.
Dwarf hamsters do best when housed with one or two other dwarf hamsters of roughly the same size and breed. This means that although you can house a Campbell’s Dwarf hamster with a Winter White hamster it will cause less stress on the hamsters to be housed with dwarf hamsters of their own breed.
A very important point to keep in mind is that unless you want to start breeding hamsters you must separate the male dwarf hamsters from the female dwarf hamsters. They are sexually mature at a very young age and will get pregnant early and often unless they are separated!
If you want to have several dwarf hamsters sharing the same cage it’s best to get dwarf hamsters that were previously housed with other hamsters as they are used to the company. Be careful when introducing a new hamster to a cage previously occupied by a solitary dwarf hamster – he may have grown used to being alone and may challenge the new arrival.
If you do introduce a new dwarf hamster to a cage with an existing dwarf hamster then be prepared to hear some interesting hamster sounds and some minor scuffling. Don’t be alarmed by this – it’s likely due to the two hamsters trying to establish who’s boss, and it rarely escalates into serious violence. Monitor the cage to make sure that the original hamster doesn’t attack the new arrival – as mentioned above, sometimes they just get used to being alone and won’t tolerate any new upstarts!
The most popular types of dwarf hamsters to keep as pets are the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster, the Winter White hamster, the Roborovski hamster, and the Chinese hamster. The most popular of these is the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster. The Cambell’s Dwarf hamster was discovered in 1902 in Mongolia and is characterized by its trademark furry feet and short tail. If handled properly the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster can be quite tame and friendly.
Winter White hamsters are unique in the hamster world in that they can change the color of their fur to a snowy white about once per year. In the wild this usually occurs around September, but domestic Winter White hamsters can change color several times per year based on the amount of sunlight they’re exposed to.
Roborovski hamsters tend to be the smallest of the dwarf hamsters, reaching only about two inches in length when fully grown. They are very gentle and extremely fast, so try not to let one escape as you’ll have an extremely difficult time getting him back!
Chinese hamsters are often called the rat-like dwarf hamster, owing to its long tail and thin body. They tend to be more aggressive than the other dwarf hamsters and are better off housed alone, except when you want to breed them. Once breeding is complete the male and female Chinese hamsters should be separated again.
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