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.
The Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster
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.
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.
The Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
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.
The Chinese Dwarf Hamster
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.