Dwarf Hamster Care

The term ‘Dwarf Hamster’ or ‘Russian Dwarf Hamster’ refers to one of a few different species of small rodent that originates from parts of Asia, Russia and China. They make excellent pets for children and adults alike. Unlike the larger Syrian Hamster – Dwarf Hamsters are sociable animals that can live with others of their own species. Being able to live together in peace is of course dependent on whether they come from the same litter or if the owner has introduced them to one another correctly at a young age. Being on the smaller end of the size scale for pet rodents they are cheaper to look after, cleaner and easier pets to take care of when compared to larger pet rodents.

Cute Pets

They are lovely, cute little animals – smaller than the more common Syrian Hamster, although when they have filled with cheek pouches full of food it can  give the impression of a much bigger hamster.  They are mostly nocturnal animals that spend most of the day sleeping and become active in the evening and at night time, but it is not unusual to see them out in the daytime, eating or getting some exercise on their hamster wheel.

This website will teach you how to care for a hamster, guide you through the process of choosing your new fury friend and preparing for it.. We will also offer reviews on various hamster related foods, toys, accessories and cages.

Click on the links to visit pages with more detailed information.

Dwarf Hamser

Dwarf Hamster Sleepy Time


Types of Dwarf Hamster

The term ‘Dwarf Hamster’ typically refers to one of 4 types of species.  The Chinese hamster is not technically a dwarf hamster as it belongs in the Cricetulus genus, however Chinese hamsters have mostly the same care requirements and are about the same size.

Each of these types comes in a variety of colors and variations due to fancy breeding and hybridization.

Dwarf Hamster Breed Table

Dwarf Hamster Breeds / Species 

Life Span

Dwarfs typically live anywhere between 2  – 3 years when kept in captivity. In the wild they live much shorter lives due to environmental hardship and predators.

According to the Guinness World Records the oldest hamster that ever lived was 4.5 years old.

You can help your hamster to live the longest life possible by ensuring they have a excellent diet, a safe and comfortable cage and lots of love and attention from the owner.

Choosing your Dwarf Hamster

Dwarfs have a life span of a few years so you want to buy a young hamster to maximize the time you will have with your new fury friend. Dwarfs are social animals, so you should always aim to purchase a pair together.

It is important to be aware that commercial pet shops stock their animals from rodent farms that produce impure bred Hybrid animals. You can only obtain a proper Winter White or Campbell’s from a accredited breeder that will also provide you with a pedigree certificate and a family history. There is no reason not to love your pet shop hamsters as much as a pure bred, however be aware that hybrids are more prone to genetic defects and illness. They also might not live as long. Hybrids might look very much like a particular type of Russian Hamster, however you can be sure there will be some genes from the other kind present in the animal.

In my experience pet stores are incredibly unreliable when it comes to sexing their rodents.. I have more than once, brought home a “male” hamster when in fact on closer inspection it turned out to be a female. Be aware there’s also a small chance your hamster might be pregnant if the pet store did not sex and separate them into genders correctly. Knowing their correct sex is also important when naming your hamster.

Things to look out for

Winter White Dwarf Hamster

Winter White Dwarf (Wikipedia)

  • The animal should have clear eyes.
  • The animal should be alert and active and not lethargic.
  • Its skin should be free from scabs or bald spots.
  • Wet tail is an infectious disease that is evident by diarrhea, unkempt backside.
  • Their home should be clean and spacious with plenty of food and water available.

Are Dwarf Hamsters Social?

Dwarfs can be sociable animals and can be kept in groups or pairs under the right circumstances. If you choose to keep a pair or group of hamsters, you should buy them at the same time as litter buddies will already be familiar with each other or will be young enough to make friends. New hamsters will unlikely to be accepted into a group later on. Like most pets, dwarfs can fall out from time to time, especially in small cramped conditions, so it’s wise to make sure their housing has multiple spots for them to sleep individually if they need some alone time. Chinese hamsters are reported to be very difficult to get to live together peacefully, so i would treat them as a social type of hamster like the Syrian.

Cages

Hamsters can be housed in Cages or Glass Aquarium. You can also buy dedicated colorful ‘Rotastak’ homes for your pet, if you don’t mind the cleaning the cage..  It is important to remember that dwarf hamsters are smaller than the Syrian hamster and thus making them more capable of escaping though large gap bars and other security weaknesses a cage or tank might have. Choose the largest cage you can afford as dwarf hamsters love lots of space to run around in and play. Make sure there is a small “Bedroom” enclosure such as a hut or a house so your pets have somewhere to feel safe and secure whilst they sleep. The floor or the cage should be covered in a substrate bedding such as wood shavings (not cedar wood or pine) to soak up urine. I recommend against using straw and hay as it can hurt their cheek pouches. Make sure to NOT to get a cage with a wire floor as It can hurt your hamster’s feet. If you have more than one Dwarf hamster living together i recommend enclosures that have a wide open space as opposed to compartments and tubes as these can encourage territorial behavior and fighting.

Once you have purchased your Cage, you will also need to furnish it with hamster wheels & toys for your hamster to play with, ease boredom and exercise.

Food

crittertrail-extreme-hamster-cage

Crittertrail Extreme Hamster Cage

Your Dwarf hamsters will require a good quality hamster food mix that can be bought from pet shops, supermarkets or online from places like Amazon. Specialist hamster mix should provide the bulk of your pets nutritional requirements, however you can supplement this with fresh fruit and vegetables from time to time. – don’t go overboard though, as it may cause digestion and stomach upsets. To keep your animal in perfect health, you can buy specialist supplements and mineral stones for your pet to snack on.  I recommend ceramic bowls as they cannot be gnawed and they are difficult for a hamster to tip over spoiling dinner.  Fresh Water by means of a water bottle should be always available to your pet.

Hamster teeth that are continuously growing so it is important to provide them with things to chew on. Chews can come in the form of chew wooden toys or cage furniture items made of wood. Hard Dog biscuits make excellent snack and chews for hamsters.

More information on Dwarf Hamster Food.

Playtime & Exercise

Dwarfs absolutely love Tubes, houses and little hiding holes to play in and keep them entertained. In the wild they are natural burrowers and tunnelers. Another fun thing you can do for them is hiding a few treats around their cage – this simulates nature and keeps them burrowing around looking for them. Wooden chew toys for them to gnaw on are essential to keep their teeth worn down.  Hamster Wheels are excellent for your pet to exercise and Hamster Balls are a fun & safe way to let your hamsters have a run around outside their cage.

Handling

With the right care and handling, Dwarf hamsters can become very tame to handle.  Once you get your hamster home, give them a few days to get familiar to their new home without being disturbed. Let them get used to your voice by talking quietly to them. After a few days introduce your hand to their cage and offer them a treat.  When your hamster is used to your hand being in their cage, you can start to gently scoop them up and stroke them gently on your hand.  Children should be supervised when handing small pets. The Robo Dwarf Hamster can be difficult to handle as they are very fast and the smallest of the Dwarfs, this makes them more of a “look at” pet.

Naming your hamster

It is important to give your dwarf hamsters the right name so take your time when choosing one. You can take inspiration from other websites relating to small pets, for example hedgehogs always have cute names!


Preparing for Your Dwarf Hamster

Before you buy your pets, you must make sure you obtained a suitable home and you have found an appropriate place in your house to put it. The location should be somewhere quiet with no extreme of temperature warm or cold. If you are a light sleeper and you have a wire-cage, your bedroom wouldn’t be a good place because hamsters sometimes like to gnaw at the bars at night time as well as squeak at each other. Some running wheels can be noisy. If you have other predatory pets like Cats and Dogs, that should be a factor when choosing a place for your hamster home. Don’t underestimate the ability of a cat to access a hamster cage.

Cage or Tank

The biggest purchase you will make for your Dwarf Hamster will be a cage or a tank. Choose the largest one you can afford as it gives your pet the happiest life, they are active animals that like to run around and explore. A larger cage gives you more possibilities and variation for arranging toys, homes and exercise equipment. If you choose a cage, pay close attention to the width of the bars. Dwarf Hamsters are experts at escaping through small gaps, so a Hamster cage designed for a Syrian Hamster, might not be suitable for a Dwarf Hamster. Keeping more than one Dwarf makes the choice of cage even more important as improper and small habitats can encourage your dwarfs to fight and become territorial. Wide open spaces are best for hamsters living together.

The Habitrail Cristal Hamster Habitat is an ideal starter home for a single dwarf hamster, It has fantastic reviews, and the price is reasonable for what you get, and more importantly it provides a tube hatch on the side that allows expansion with another cage to give more room. It provides good ventilation, Protection from drafts and it’s easy to clean.

 Water Bottle

Dwarf Hamsters, like all other pet rodents need access to fresh water throughout the day. The best option is to buy a water bottle. Water bowls can be tipped up and soiled easily. It is difficult to go wrong with a hamster water bottle. Just make sure it is chew proof and does not drip. Aquarium/Tank owners may need to purchase a water bottle with a stand that sits on the floor of the tank. Water bottles are easily attacked to cage wire bars.

 The Kaytee Chew-Proof Water Bottle is more than adequate for the needs of a dwarf hamster, it is made with chew proof glass that allows an easy view of the current water level.
There are three sizes to choose from; 6 ounce, 26 ounce and ‘Medium’. There is a Spring attachment hanger that holds the bottle securely in place inside or outside wire cages.

 Exercise Wheel

Dwarf Hamsters are very active animals, especially at night time. In the wild they will cover many miles a day. You will need a running wheel or a flying saucer to keep your hamster healthy and happy. It is essential to buy one that is solid and  without rungs as it can damage your hamsters feet and cause injury. Noise might be a factor if your hamster cage is near your place of sleep so you might be better off spending a little extra money and buying a silent spinner wheel. If you have a pair of Dwarf Hamsters, you might want to get two wheels to avoid squabbling.

 In my opinion the Kaytee Small Comfort Exercise Wheel is ideally suited to dwarf hamsters. It is small enough, it is solid without rungs and it gives you the option of having it free standing in the cage or attaching it to the side bars of a cage.

 Food Bowl

It is fairly important to have a good quality ceramic food bowl for your hamsters as it helps to prevent it being tipped up and soiling food. Dwarf hamsters love to sit inside their bowls whilst they eat so if you have more than one pet it’s a good idea to have a large bowl that they can all sit in. This will help prevent fighting at dinner time.

Measuring 5 inches long x 5 inches wide the Living World Ergonomic dish is a fantastic food bowl for your dwarf hamsters. It is very spacious allowing 2 hamsters to sit inside and feed. It is also heavy enough to prevent your pets from tipping up their food.

 Hamster Bedding

Choosing a bedding that is non-toxic and comfortable for your pet dwarf hamster is important. Avoid Cedar and pine shavings as they are not recommended because they cause respiratory problems. Also avoid scented bedding. There are many different brands and types on the market. Shop around, read the reviews and ingredients. I like to leave some toilet paper in the corner of the cage when i have cleaned it out. It gives the hamster something to shred up and take to the nest.

Carefresh Ultra is a very good choice as it ticks all the boxes when it comes to Dwarf Hamster care and it is very good value for money when you buy it in the bulk 50 litre package. It is a premium bedding made from clean & safe cellulose fiber. It’s free of clay, dyes and other chemical contaminants. It is ultra absorbent and suppresses the formation of ammonia caused by hamster urine.

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 Hamster Bath

It is highly inadvisable to give hamsters a water bath. Sand baths provide a great alternative without risking their health. Rolling around in sand removes particles from their coat and removes excess oils.  It also a source of fun and enjoyment for hamsters and helps mimic their nature environment in the wild. Good Hamster Baths should be made of ceramic or at least be heavy enough to prevent them from tipping it up when getting in and out, and rolling around in it. Only buy hamster safe sand. Animal Dust can cause respiration problems for hamsters.  You might have to only put the bath in the cage from time to time if your hamsters are using it as a toilet.

Pet Hamster Bathroom Bath Sand Room by Como is a very cost effective solution. It has a top cover that will prevent spillage of sand over the cage as well as being see-through so you can watch your hamster having a sand bath.


 Hamster House

Every hamster needs a place to retreat to, make a nest and go to sleep away from the prying eyes and hands of humans. There are plenty of DIY options to make your own, however for aesthetic reasons you might want to buy a cute and pretty one for your cage. There are plenty available online.

Prevue Hendryx Grass Hut is one of my favorites! It is made of 100% natural materials (sisal tassel) and it is cheap. It is 4 inches long, 7 inches wide and 3.5 inches high. Ideal size for one of two Dwarf Hamsters. “The sweet fragrance of 100-percent all natural grass materials comes through in this fun playtime accessory while satisfying your pet’s natural instinct to burrow.





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