Dwarf Hamster Breeds and How to Care For Them
There are many different species of hamster. Because of the size of these small creatures, only a few can safely be considered suitable pets. Dwarf Hamsters are tiny delicate creatures, which require extreme care to be taken at all times to prevent injury and to provide the special care they need.
DWARF HAMSTER BREEDS
The different types of Dwarf Hamsters are not all the same, even though they may look very similar at first glance. There are basically four different dwarf hamster breeds: Campbell's, Winter White, Roborvski, and Chinese. Each breed has unique qualities and traits that set it apart from the others, so it’s helpful to learn as much as you can about each breed, to make the choice that best suits you.
Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster
The most common of all the dwarf hamsters, is the Campbell's Dwarf Hamster. As the most commonly available, this breed is the easiest one to find in a pet store. A unique quality of the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster is the number of varieties there are. Campbell's are available in a number of colors and different fur patterns, ranging from a dark black color all the way to white, browns, and even a slightly blue-grey color. If you adopt one of these tiny creatures, you can expect his size to reach approximately four inches.
Winter White Dwarf Hamster
There are a lot of similarities between the Winter White Dwarf Hamster and the Campbell's Dwarf Hamster. These two breeds were once considered to be the same hamster. However, there is a difference in their fur coats. A fascinating trait of the Winter White Dwarf Hamster is how its fur turns white during the winter in order to help camouflage it more easily in the snow. Be prepared though, if you have purchased this breed for this particular trait, you will probably be disappointed, because you can’t really achieve this affect if you keep your hamster indoors. In order for this trait to display, the hamster really needs to be living in its natural environment where it has the only real requirement for this fascinating color change.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Of the four breeds, this one is the tiniest. To give you an idea of the difference in size, a full grown Roborovski Dwarf Hamster grows to only half the size of the others. Along with their much smaller size, they are also much quicker and more agile than the other three breeds. Because of the extremely small size of these hamsters, it is harder to play with these delicate creatures, always having to be so alert at how easily they can run away in a matter of seconds and be difficult, or even impossible to find. Maintenance of their habitat needs to be frequently inspected for cracks and holes, because their tiny size allows them to squeeze themselves through some incredibly tight spaces. Surprisingly, in spite of their extremely small size, the Roborovski Dwarf Hamster actually has the longest life span of all the dwarf hamsters, of approximately 3 to 3-1/2 years.
Chinese Dwarf Hamster
The most unique variety is the Chinese Dwarf Hamster. Their "mouse-like" appearance gives them a distinct look that easily distinguishes them from the other dwarf hamsters. Scientifically they aren’t considered to be dwarf hamsters, but because of their exceptionally tiny size, they are often considered by non-scientists as part of the dwarf hamster family. In addition to their unique qualities, Chinese Dwarf Hamsters are also the rarest breed of all the dwarf hamsters. You will not find this breed in most pet shops and are actually illegal in California because they are considered to be a possible threat to agricultural areas if they get loose.
IMPORTANT CARE TIPS
- Dwarf hamsters have certain requirements in caring for them that are very important. Their habitat can be an aquarium, plastic cage, or a large wire cage with narrow spaces between wires. Wire cages can be good, but one thing to remember when choosing your Dwarf Hamster's habitat, is to constantly be aware of the cage's condition for any kind of cracks or open spaces where your hamster might try to escape. Be careful to choose a cage where the space between each wire is narrow enough to prevent the hamster from squeezing through the bars, both horizontally or vertically. One way to avoid the possibility of your hamster escaping his cage, is to use tube cages, as they provide a good place to live comfortably in a safe and cozy environment. A10-20 gallon fish tank is also a good choice if you don't want to worry about your hamster getting out of its cage.
- Hamsters love to run around their cage and play. It's important to make sure you provide them with enough space to exercise in freely. Another good idea, is the addition of a toy wheel so your dwarf hamster can run as much as he wants, whenever he wants. This is even more important in a smaller cage, to help ensure your hamster gets enough exercise.
- When preparing the habitat, it is necessary to use at least 2-3 inches of substrate on the bottom of the wire cage, or fish tank. Burrowing is a favorite past time, so it is important for the physical and mental health of your hamster, to make sure he is always able to enjoy this activity whenever he wants. Because dwarf hamsters are nesting creatures by nature, you need to provide ample substrate and any other things such as paper towels, cotton, or tissues that they can use to make small nests, to help encourage this natural behavior. Owners also need to remember that these small creatures are shy and love their privacy, so provide some sort of object they can hide in when they feel they need it.
- Because of their high metabolism, dwarf hamsters need to be fed on a regular basis. Pellets, seeds, fruits and vegetables are some of the foods that need to be part of your hamster's diet. A supply of fresh, clean water needs to be available daily. It is a good idea to include some sort of chew toys in the habitat too, to help file down their teeth, which grow at a very rapid rate. Failure to provide something to chew on, could be harmful or even fatal to your hamster.
- Along with providing ample supplies of the items necessary to provide a healthy, proper habitat, it is equally important to keep this environment clean. Along with replacing the substrate on a weekly basis, you should clean the other accessories weekly, and replace broken items immediately, to help keep your hamster safe and healthy. For cleaning, simply use a light solution of soap and water.
What do you say? Is it worth the joy and cuteness of having a hamster after all the detailed care it requires? Do you have your own experience? Would you recommend it as a family pet? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.