Dwarf Hamster Basics: A Primer on Dwarf Hamster Ownership
Dashing Dwarf Hamsters - Is a Dwarf Hamster Right for Me?
Are you ready to bring a Dwarf Hamster into your life? There are three primary types of dwarf hamsters: Russian Campbells Dwarf Hamsters, Russian Winter White Hamsters (also known as Djungarian or Siberian Hamsters), and Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters.
Dwarf Hamsters can live in social groups if they are raised together or introduced at a very young age, but not all dwarf hamsters want company. Many dwarf hamsters prefer to live alone. Social groups should always be monitered to be sure that one hamster isn't bullying another one.
Knock Before Entering - Cage Territorial Hamsters
Dwarf hamsters often get a bad rap for biting, but the most common cause of a dwarf hamster biting is their territory being invaded. If you have a dwarf hamster who seems nippy in the cage, keep your hands out of your hamster's space. Instead of using your hand to take your hamster out of the cage, hold a scoop or other item in front of them and allow them to walk out of the cage into the scoop, and then off of the scoop onto your hand.
This simple step can turn a feared biting hamster into the buddy you always wanted.
Choosing Your Dwarf Hamster
Male or female? There is no difference in personality between male and female dwarf hamsters.
Campbells Dwarf Hamsters are the most particular out of the three species of dwarf hamsters, and can be rather unforgiving of mistakes. They are the little dog with a big bark of the hamster world, and are bold, full of personality, and can be at times very opinionated. Campbells Hamsters are better suited to older children or adults, as they tend to display more cage territorial behaviors. Campbells Dwarf Hamsters are prone to developing diabetes, and should be on a low to no sugar diet. Campbells Dwarf Hamsters live for 1.5 to 2 years.
Winter White Dwarf Hamsters generally have a more even temperament, but can also be particular about their cage and space similar to a Campbells hamster. Winter White Hamsters live for 1.5 to 2 years.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters are the least likely to nip, but they are the fastest hamsters and can be more difficult to handle. Roborovskis can be extremely difficult to gender seperate early on, and sporadic mating habits make it very important that you confirm the gender of these hamsters at weaning time, and then again at two and a half months before they reach sexual maturity. Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters live for 2-3 years.
Essential Dwarf Hamster Accessories
You will need the following items for your Dwarf Hamster: A Suitable Habitat, Safe Bedding, A Food Dish, A Water Bottle, A Nest Box, Healthy Food, Chew Toys and a Safe Running Wheel.
Dwarf Hamsters will climb multiple levels in a cage, but are not as good at climbing down as they are climbing up. We recommend going with a cage that has more flat, horizontal space then high vertical space to keep your hamster from hurting itself on a long drop. A ten gallon aquarium provides a minimum of space for a pair of social dwarf hamsters or a single dwarf hamster, but more room is always better. If you have more hamsters, add more space to prevent social fighting.
Your Hamster's Bedding should be made of a safe material. We recommend using recycled cardboard bedding like Carefresh. Never use Cedar or Pine bedding, as these can cause respiratory damage.
Your Hamster's food dish should be large enough to hold plenty of food, but not large enough for them to get their whole body in. Use a heavy material to prevent your Hamster from tipping it over.
You can use a water bottle to keep fresh water available for your hamster. If you are using an aquarium or tank type cage, we recommend also buying a metal water bottle guard to prevent your hamster from chewing on their water bottle and potentially causing a leak.
Your Hamster will appreciate a nest box or other dark, quiet place to nap in. You can buy plastic igloos or other hiding huts, or simply give your hamster an old tissue box, cardboard box, or wooden box to hide out under. Skip the "Hamster Fluff" type beddings, as these can be dangerous for your hamster. Instead, offer plain white tissue paper as a nesting material.
Your Hamsters prefer a forage diet made up of different types of pellets, seeds, dried fruits and vegetables. There are many good packaged foods on the market. Look for one that is low in dried corn and has a good variety of different items. If you have a Campbells dwarf hamster, look for a diet that has no added sugar, mollasses or corn syrup.
Offer your hamster a variety of chew toys to keep them busy during the day. You can buy wooden or pumice hamster chew toys at the store, or offer your hamster untreated pieces of apple branches, willow, or plain cardboard tubes.
Hamsters will get most of their exercise on a safe wheel. You should use a wheel that has a solid surface, as gaps between bars are a good place for a hamster's leg to slip through and get hurt. Ideally, look for a wheel that mounts on one side and does not have spokes for your hamster to get trapped in. Two of the best hamster wheels on the market are "Silent Spinners" and "Wodent Wheels".
Hamster Care: The Basic Routine
Your hamster will appreciate some time adventuring out of the cage. You should bring your hamster out to handle them, and allow them some running time outside of the cage either in a hamster proofed area, or in a plastic run about ball.
Your hamster should always have access to fresh food and clean water. Refresh food bowls and water bottles daily to keep your hamster healthy.
On a weekly basis, you will need to empty out your hamster's cage, clean the cage and all of their accessories, and add fresh bedding.
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