Meet the Hamsters: Campbells Dwarf Hamster Hamster Profile
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters - The Little Dog of the Hamster World
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters are currently the most common type of dwarf hamster on the pet market. They are big personalities in a tiny hamster. Campbells Dwarf Hamsters often get a bad rap for biting, but this is often due to the different needs and handling style preferred by Campbells Hamsters vs. the more docile Syrian Hamsters. There are a variety of color mutations among the Campbells hamster including the traditional markings of the brown and grey campbells hamster, albino, black eyed whites, greys, fawns and a variety of mottled colors.
Hamster History - The Origins of the Campbells Dwarf Hamster
The wild Campbells Russian Dwarf Hamster was originally discovered in 1902 in Tuva by W.C. Campbell, and are also native to the steppes and semi-arid areas of Central Asia, the Altay Mountains and provinces of Heilungkiang and Hebei in Northeastern China.
By 1968, researchers were able to successfully breed Campbells in captivity in the United Kingdom and were used as laboratory animals. In 1973, a pair of breeding dwarf hamsters was obtained from the London Zoo by a member of a United Kingdom hamster fanciers group and by the 1980's, they were becoming more widely available on the pet market.
Just The Facts - Campbells in a Nutshell
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters live on average for 1.5 to 2 years, although some hamsters have lived as long as four years. They reach adult size at 10-12cm in body length with males being larger on average. Domesticated Campbells hamsters generally display nocturnal (awake at night, sleeping during the day) behavior or crepuscular (awake around dawn and twilight, sleeping during the day and night) behavior, and are moderately adaptive to the schedule of their human family. Campbells dwarf hamsters are omnivores and their teeth grow throughout their entire lives.
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters can live socially with other dwarf hamsters of the same gender if they are raised together from the same litter or introduced at a very young age, although not all Campbells enjoy living with other hamsters. It is not recommended to introduce adult hamsters.
Female Hamsters come into heat every 4 days and generally have a 18-21 day gestation period. While the average litter is about 8 hamsters, litters of over 15 have been reported.
A Rainbow of Hamsters!
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters have been on the pet market for awhile, and they come in a variety of color mutations. The original color of the Campbells Dwarf Hamster is brownish grey with a lighter belly and a dark dorsal stripe.
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters come in a variety of colors and will fall into one of three catagories: 1) "Agouti" colors that show the wild markings of a lighter belly and dorsal stripes, 2) "Self" colors where the hamster is a solid color all over and 3) "Broken Color" where the hamster has either a collar, mottled coloration or spots.
Colors include: Black, Argente, Blue Argente, Agouti, Platnium, Blue, Dove, Opal, Chocolate and Creme.
Bad Rap - The Biting Hamster
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters often get a bad rap for biting and it's not uncommon to hear them labeled as "mean" hamsters. Campbells Dwarf Hamsters are a less forgiving species of handling mistakes then many other hamsters, and require more time and attention to stay friendly and tame then other species of hamsters.
Many Campbells Dwarf hamsters also display cage territorial behavior, and are more reactive to hands in their environment and more likely to bite under those circumstances.
So what is the owner of a biting hamster to do? If a hamster is biting inside of the cage, using a scoop (either a large soup spoon, an upside down nest box or a similar item that allows the hamster plenty of room to climb on) to remove your hamster from the cage before playtime can help them understand that their space is not being invaded. Don't use it to scoop up your hamster, instead hold the item at ground level in front of your hamster and allow them to step into it, and then step out of the scoop onto your hand outside of the cage. This will allow your hamster to initiate playtime with you, or to avoid the scoop if they don't feel like coming out to play.
Hamster still nipping and nibbling outside of the cage? Campbells Dwarf Hamsters commonly use their mouth to explore new items, much like a puppy. Be sure that you handle your hamster with clean hands to avoid any interesting lingering smells that might attract your hamster's mouth. If your hamster is still nipping, rub some Bitter Apple on your hands and it will often quickly discourage a mouthy hamster.
Faux Paws - The Social Campbells Hamster
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters can live socially when raised together from the same litter, in groups of the same gender, or if they are introduced at a very young age. It's not recommended to introduce Campbells Dwarf Hamsters that are over three months of age, as they can be fiercely territorial and will attack and possibly kill a new hamster that is seen as an intruder.
Not all Campbells Dwarf Hamsters prefer to live socially, and even hamsters from the same litter may fight once they reach adolesence or later on during their adult years. While there are plenty of hamsters who will live happily through their lives together, there are others that simply prefer to be on their own.
If you are keeping dwarf hamsters together socially, it's recommended that you provide plenty of resources to avoid the hamsters fighting. A food bowl that is large enough to accomadate two hamsters at either side, or two small food bowls, two water bottles, multiple nest boxes, toys and wheels can keep a social group of hamsters happy and non-competitive.
Kept socially, Dwarf Hamsters can be very vocal when having social arguements. While their squeaking and screeching can sound like a bad fight, the best rule of thumb is to keep a close eye on them and seperate hamsters if you see that one is being bullied (constantly chased, kept away from food/water/toys, fur is being chewed) or if one hamster bites another.
Worried about a lonely hamster? Offer plenty of toys and extra time outside of the time playing with you and your dwarf hamster won't feel lonely. Many Campbells prefer to live on their own rather then share their toys, space and nest with other hamsters.
Sweet Enough Already - Diabetic Campbells Dwarf Hamsters
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters may develop diabetes early or later on in life, and it's important to try to catch symptoms early so you can make dietary adjustments to ensure your hamster's comfort and health.
Signs of diabetes include: Excessive Drinking, Excessive Urination, Poor Coat Condition, Lethargy (mild or severe), Low Body Temperature, Shivering, and Tempermental Behavior.
Most drug stores will sell Keto-Diastix Test Strips that you can use to test your hamsters at home. To test your hamster for diabetes, you can either put very gentle pressure on their abdomen and place the strip at their genitals to get them to urinate onto it, or you can place your hamster in a plastic container and wait until they pee onto the bare plastic to dip the strip in the urine. The packaging of the strips will have a color chart which will indicate the levels of glucose and ketones in your hamster's urine.
If your hamster has high ketones, and anywhere from high to no glucose, offer your hamster a 50/50 solution of water and unflavored pedialyte in their water bottle to help regulate their levels. Pedialyte should be switched out daily, and once the bottle is opened it's recommended that you freeze unused pedialyte into ice cubes and thaw them as needed.
If your hamster has no ketones and high glucose, you will need to remove all sugar including dextrose, maltose, corn syrup, mollasses and other types of sugar.
In any event, a hamster that has the readings of diabetes should be put on a high protein, low fat and high fiber diet. You'll want to either cut or eliminate all sugars, including artificially added sugars and natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables such as corn, peas, carrots and apples.
Veterinary treatment is available for diabetic dwarf hamsters, although many vets can only confirm the presence of diabetes. A hamster savvy vet may be able to prescribe Glipizide, an orally administered insulin for Type 2 Diabetes. If a hamster is being treated with Glipizide, it is crucial to have your hamster tested at least once a week to moniter it's blood sugar levels as Glipizide is a hypoglycemic. Due to the risks and stress of Glipizide treatment, it is highly recommended that dietary adjustments are made first before putting a hamster on medication.
There is currently no known cure for diabetes in dwarf hamsters, but with simple diet management many diabetic hamsters live long, healthy and happy lives.