Russian Dwarf Hamsters are new to the pet scene, but are gaining in popularity because they are friendlier and more sociable than most hamsters.
These hamsters share certain characteristics. Their native habitat is in southwest Siberia. They live for an average of two years. At maturity, they are approximately two to four inches long. Whatever their similarities, they exhibit great diversity in their coloration and personality. There are three varieties available: the Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster, the Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster and the Roborovski Dwarf Hamster.
Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster – a rare species, seldom seen in North American pet shops. In its native habitat, the coat turns snow white in wintertime as camouflage from predators. In captivity, it tends to wear its summer coat, which is blue grey with a darker stripe down the back, known as a dorsal stripe. This hamster tends to be friendly to humans, if socialized early.
Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster – the most commonly sold in pet shops. In the wild, this species has a grey-brown coat with a white belly and a dark dorsal stripe. In domesticated hamsters, breeders have created many color variations with exotic names. These hamsters tend to live peaceably in groups.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters – this variety is only two inches long when fully grown. Sandy brown in color, they lack the dorsal stripe typical of other species, and sport white spots above their eyes. These hamsters form a strong bond with others of their kind, and will eat, sleep and play together. Extremely fast and agile, they can easily escape while being handled. This makes them an ideal choice for owners who want to sit back and watch their entertaining antics. Still, it is possible to accustom them to handling if training begins while they are young. In nature, they often run twenty miles per night and therefore, they make hyperactive pets that enjoy vast networks of tunnels to explore. russian grocery store
With the usual, proper care given any hamster, Dwarf Hamsters should thrive and live out their full life expectancy without too many problems. Appropriate care includes providing the following:
• A roomy, secure habitat that is well-ventilated, but protected from draft
• Plenty of fresh water
• A food mix specially formulated for their breed
• No junk food or sugary treats
• chew toys to naturally grind down their continually growing teeth
• A wheel for exercise
• Tunnels to explore
• Huts for hiding and sleeping
• bathing sand for cleaning
• Non-toxic bedding
Breeding is a relatively easy process, especially if the hamsters have lived together in mixed sex pairs or groups established at a young age. Females may become aggressive when pregnant, and nip or bite their cage mates, as well as the hand that feeds them. During the gestation period of 18 to 21 days, the mother-to-be needs a high quality diet with additional calcium supplements. A few days before she gives birth, it is best to separate her from the others, furnishing her with a separate and secure place to raise her babies.
New mothers under stress may engage in undesirable behavior, such as abandonment or even cannibalism of their babies. It is therefore important to provide these pets with ideal conditions, and ensure that the female does not feel threatened. She should perceive there to be adequate food, water and shelter for her brood. If it is absolutely necessary to touch the babies, gloves should be worn to avoid contaminating them with human scent. Abandoned baby hamsters would be extremely difficult for an owner to rear without special training. The mouth and nose are very close together, and it is easy to accidentally drown the baby while feeding it from a bottle. Newborn hamsters must be fed at least every hour, even at night. Once the babies are a week old, it is unlikely that their mother will reject them. At that point, the owner can relax and enjoy watching the happy family.