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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.