The classification “dwarf hamster” may be used to refer to any of the hamster species whose size is roughly half that of the Syrian hamster. These tiny species are part of the genus Cricetus or Phodopus. Many people like to keep them as pets, those many hamsters are still living in the wild. As a result of their diminutive size and their need for a specific living environment, dwarf hamsters are extremely frail. Their habitat must be painstakingly maintained so that they can live a long, happy life in captivity as a pet.
Between the two genera, there are ten species that can be classified as dwarf hamsters. All of them are originally from semi-arid or dry climates found throughout Asia and Eurasia. Cambell’s dwarf hamsters were found in dry mountainous areas, such as the Altay mountains in Mongolia, whereas Roborovski’s hamster was discovered in the Gobi Desert.
These small creatures also have a short life span. Some species, such as Campbell’s hamster or the winter white Russian hamster, even in good health and ideal conditions pass away naturally at roughly two and a half years old. Other dwarf species, like Roborovski’s, may live upwards of four years. The average life span is will be increased in all species by living in captivity. Their exposure to hungry predators or other threats are drastically reduced. Their life span can also change as a result of environmental factors.
Though, much like how the environment can affect a hamster’s life span, it can also affect how big it grows. However, dwarf hamsters have never reached the same size as a normal-sized hamster, even in captivity. On average, Roborovski’s hamsters are the tiniest species we know to exist, reaching only 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) when fully grown, up to close to 3 inches (7.5 cm). A Chinese dwarf hamster can grow to between three to three and a half inches (7-9 cm) and can weigh anywhere from .9 ounces to 1.5 ounces (25-43 g).
Caring for a dwarf hamster is similar to how one would take care of other small mammals. Owners should provide bedding for the hamster since their natural instinct is to burrow and dig. One can also give them some tubing for them to climb in and out of. The tubing should be quite small, otherwise they will find it difficult to climb out of it safely. Wood bedding (with the exception of cedar) is recommended for its dust free and absorbent qualities, making it ideal for the fragile lungs of dwarf hamsters. The cage temperature should be constant, and food should be readily available, since hamsters like to snack and often. Fresh water should be provided via a water bottle, as having a bowl of water can easily get bedding inside it.
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