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Dwarf Hamsters

Russian Dwarf Hamsters
Chinese Dwarf Hamsters
Roborovski Hamsters

Introducing Hamsters

Males vs Females
Body Language & Handling


Russian Dwarf Hamsters

Short Answer - Russians come in two varieties; Winter white and Campbell. They are the largest and slowest, and come in a variety of colours. They are gentle and easy to handle but may nip if not properly picked up.

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Winter White

Long Answer - There are actually two different species of Russian hamster; the Winter White and the Russian. They have a slightly different appearance – the Russian Winter white is best known for its brown coat with black dorsal stripe which will moult to reveal an almost purely white coat. This feature is an adaptation which helps them to evade predators in the snow covered winter of Siberia. They may not all change colour in captivity due to the artificial lighting. The Russian Campbell comes in a wide variety of colours such as agouti, argente, black, opal and albino. They may also have varying markings, and most Russian Campbells have a dorsal stripe.
Both species typically grow to 8-10 cm. They are the largest of all the dwarf hamsters, and also the slowest, making them easy to handle. The Russian hamster can be known to nip, however this can usually be avoided with proper handling. When you put your hand into the cage over the hamster, this understandably resembles a predator coming down on their prey, and the general response is a scared, defensive and territorial hamster. Always make sure the hamster knows you are there so you don’t take it by surprise, rub your hands in the bedding to neutralise your scent, and it can sometimes be easier so bring the hamster out of the cage by scooping it on to an object. Once the hamster is out keep your palm flat and your hands low. If Russian hamsters are not handled they will become untame, so regular handing is a must with these little guys.

Chinese Dwarf Hamsters

Short Answer - Chinese hamsters are long and thin with a little tail. They are generally quiet but can be friendly if well socialised. They are great little climbers. Two female Chinese’s should not be kept together.

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Long Answer - The Chinese dwarf hamster is not always referred to as a dwarf hamster as it does not belong to the Phodopus family, however in most senses it belongs to the group so will be listed under this section. They usually grow to 7-9cm long, and have a long, thin appearance, with a longer tail than most hamsters, and are sometimes likened to mice. They most commonly come in Brown/Wild colouring; a brown colour with a black dorsal stripe, and white underbelly. There is also a less common Dominant Spot colouring; white with brown spots and stripe and even rarer is the back eyed white Chinese. They have a very quiet personality, and can be quite nervous as young hamsters. Despite this they rarely bite, and if handled correctly will become quite friendly as adults. They are great little climbers, and often appreciate living in a wire cage where they can monkey up and down the bars.

Roborovski Hamsters

Short Answer - The smallest and fastest of all the dwarf hamsters. They are friendly and very active little hamsters. They come in two colour variations. Due to their speed they are better for teenagers or adults.

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Long Answer - Roborovski hamsters, sometimes called Robbies or Robos for ease, are the smallest and fastest of all the dwarf hamsters. They typically grow to around 4-5cm in length, and have a cute ball like appearance. They generally come in an agouti/wild colouring – a light brown on the back, with white underbelly and eyebrows. They can also come in a lighter husky/white faced variation, which tend to have the main colouring as the wild colouring but with a little more white around the face and back. These hamsters are friendly and very rarely bite, but they can be very fast! They are not typically cuddle hamsters, most are very speedy and hard to catch. Once you have them, having them on a flat hand is not easy as they shoot straight off so they need to be gently restrained in your hands. This is not to say that all of them are so fast, and some can become quite laid back with lots of handling, but they can be tricky pets for young children and tend to be suited to older teens or adult keepers.


Short Answer - 1-3 years, depending on species.

Long Answer -

Russian (Campbells and Winter White): 1½ - 2½ years
Chinese: 2½ - 3 years
Roborovski: 3 years


Short Answer - Feed a good quality hamster muesli. Only very small treats 1-2 times a week. Change food and water daily.

Long Answer - Dwarf Hamsters are usually fed on a pre-made hamster muesli mix which contain various nuts, seeds, fruits and greens which is specifically designed to keep your hamster healthy. Treats can be given but make sure they make up no more than 10% of your hamsters calorific intake – and make sure they are very small; the big treat sticks are too big for the dwarfs. Small amounts of fruit and veg can also be given as treats, but no chocolate or human snacks as these can be toxic to your little pet. Also avoid giving fruit stones or seeds or raw potatoes. For a full list of what you can and can’t feed your hamster, have a look here. Russian dwarfs (especially the Russian Campbells) are prone to diabetes – it is a hereditary disease but for this reason Russians should not be fed any fruit or sweet treats as they are too high in sugar. Change your hamster’s food and water daily to keep it nice and fresh. Hamsters have expandable cheek pouches which in the wild are used to transport food in to the burrow. Although your hamster is kept as a domestic pet, it will still stuff food in to its pouches, often hiding it in its bed area. Sometimes when you think your hamster has eaten all his food he’s just hidden it, so be careful not to overfeed.

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