10 Differences Between Syrian And Dwarf Hamsters

If you’re looking to get a hamster and want to figure out which type is for you, read on. I have a Syrian male, his name is Teddy, and I think he’s the cutest furball ever. You might think the same about your hammy when you get yours.

But let’s see what the main differences are between the Syrian hamster, and the Dwarf types. There’s more than one kind of hamster, and I’ll walk you through the differences.

difference between syrian and dwarf hamster

So what is the main difference between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters ?

The main and most obvious differences between Syrian and Dwarf types are the size, and whether they are solitary.

Syrian hamsters are much larger than the Dwarf types. Syrian hamsters ca grow up to 8 inches/20 cm in length, and are much bulkier than Dwarf types.

Dwarf hamsters are about 2 inches/5 cm in size, with the Chinese Dwarf reaching a maximum of 10 cm/4 inches.

Keeping hamsters together is alright for Dwarf types, except for the Chinese. The Chinese dwarf, along with the Syrian, is solitary and must be kept alone. If not, they will fight to the death for the cage.

Alright, those are the main differences, and the most obvious ones. There’s a few more, let me give you a quick list of what’s left:

  • There is a difference in temperament
  • The cage size is different
  • The minimum wheel size is different
  • Syrians are the easiest to tame
  • There are wildly different color options and markings
  • Some are prone to a disease, some to other illnesses
  • You can’t feed them quite the same, there are a few differences
  • You can tell the gender of a Syrian easier

Some of these might be important to you, maybe they’re not. But you have to be aware of them when you’re picking out what kind of hamster you want. Hamsters are hamsters, and they will generally behave the same. But there are some differences between the 2 main types – Syrian or Dwarf – which can give you a slightly different pet.

So let’s talk a bit about what kind of hamsters there are available for you to choose, and which ones they are.

A brief rundown on all hamster types available in pet stores

There’s 2 main types of hamster available. There is the Syrian hamster, which is the largest and most common hamster you will find.

And there are the Dwarf types, 4 usually available in pet stores, and they’re all much smaller and look very different from a Syrian. All Dwarf types hail from Northern Asia, albeit from different regions, like Siberia, Mongolia, China, Russia.

I’ve grouped together the Dwarf types for the purpose of this article. But I will tell you a bit about each type available below.

Syrian hamster

The most common kind of hamster kept as a pet. They’re the ones you usually think of when you think of hamsters.

These hamsters come from Syria, and southern Turkey, and they’re the largest kind of hamster. Usually they’re orange/golden, and there are variations that have come through breeding. Like all black, white, spotted, and so on.

My Teddy is a golden Syrian hammy, and when I got him I thought I was getting a very special kind of hamster. I thought I got the most unique, cutest hamster, that will stand out from all the rest. Turns out golden variations are the most common, but he’s still what I wanted.

You can find the Syrian hamster in short hair and long hair, of which the males have the longest. They can live 2-3 years.

Roborovski Dwarf

These are one of the most common Dwarf types, and the absolute smallest. There’s no real point in trying to hold them, since they’re so small and wriggly. You’ll also find their names shortened to Robo often.

They’re grow up only to about 2 inches/5 cm, and will escape through most cage bars. Actually for dwarf types it’s better to get a glass tank. That way you’re sure they can’t go anywhere.

Campbell Dwarf

Another very common type of Dwarf hamster, the Campbell dwarf is just as small as the Robo, and is very easy to scare. Again, this kind of dwarf doesn’t really like being touched and will not sit still.

A glass tank is the best options for this kind of dwarf as well.

Chinese Dwarf

This is a larger Dwarf type, growing up to 10 cm/4 inches long. Chinese dwarves aren’t very social, and unlike other Dwarf types do no like being kept with other hamsters. Even if they were raised together in the same litter, they will still fight to the death.

The male Chinese Dwarf also has a scent gland on its abdomen, which isn’t present on other hamster types.

Siberian/Djungarian/Winter White Dwarf

The rarest kind of Dwarf hamster, it’s almost completely white. It’s just as small as the other 2 Russian Dwarves (Robo and Campbell), and this one actually is easier to tame than other Dwarf types.

Still, he is hyper and need to run and climb a lot, since there’s so much energy in such a small creature.

Now let’s get into the clear differences between the larger, Syrian hamster, and the cute Dwaf types.

Syrian hamsters are the largest

Syrian hamsters can grow much longer and larger than Dwarf types.

difference between syrian and dwarf hamster (2)
Teddy – our Syrian Hamster

Syrians can get up to 8 inches/20 cm long, and are much more elongated than the Dwarf types. The Dwarves reach a maximum of 2 inches/5 cm, with only the Chinese Dwarf managing 4 inches/10 cm.

The Dwarves are more stout, and they kind of look like they have no neck at first. Their fur is much fluffier and longer compared to the Syrian’s.

This means that there are large differences between cage and wheel sizes for these 2 types of hamsters. But I’ll get into that in a couple of paragraphs.

Dwarf types are hyper and faster than Syrians

The smaller they are, the faster and more agile they are. Syrians do run a lot, and jump, and need a whole lot of exercising and space.

But Dwarf types take the cake here. They need the most exercise, and are actually kind of hard to actually touch. They keep moving, there is always something going on and they need to investigate.

You’d think that given their size the Dwarf types would be slower, but they actually seem to move faster than the Syrian. This is only because they’re so small, but both types can run between 3-6 miles per hour. That’s 5-10 km per hour !

Syrians will stop and stare into the distance every now and then, but not as much as the Dwarves. Those tiny creatures take breaks from their running wheel often, and they’re always very short.

If you want to know more about hamsters and their running routine, along with how much exercise they need, you should check out this helpful article here.

Syrian hamsters need bigger cages

Given their larger size, Syrian hamsters need a much larger cage. A large enough cage for a Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.

While Dwarf hamsters can do with about half that size, it’s recommended that you give them a large enough space as well. Always go for a bigger cage if you have the space and budget for this.

A cramped up hamster is a nippy, irritated hamster, and you risk your hammies fighting eachother just because they don’t have enough space.

This roundup of the best hamster cages touches on hamster type, cage safety, and escape-proof rating as well.

Remember that for Dwarf hamsters, if you’ve got 2, their cage will need to be as large as a lone Syrian’s ! And if you have just one Chinese Dwarf, better get him a Syrian sized cage, just to be sure that he has enough space since he is larger than other Dwarf types.

If you want to know more about hamster cages, and choosing the best kind for your hamster here is a helpful and clear article on the 3 main kinds of hamster cages. But in short, Dwarf hamsters do better in glass tanks since they have no chance of getting stuck between the cage bars.

The minimum wheel size is smaller for Dwarf hamsters

Again, the Syrian hamster will need a much larger wheel size than Dwarves. 7 inches/18 cm are the minimum for an exercise wheel for a Syrian hamster. While 5 inches/13 cm are enough for a Dwarf, but that’s only the minimum.

All hamsters go for a larger wheel if given the option. So like with the cage, get your hamster a large wheel. The largest you can find, even if it might seem like too much for a small hamster. They are all more comfortable in a larger wheel.

If you want to know more about how to get a good exercise wheel for your hamster, you should read this article. You’ll find out what to look out for when picking your hammy’s wheel, along with a clear example.

And if you’re looking for a roundup of the best hamster wheels, according to their breed, there it is.

Dwarf hamsters are harder to tame

This is only true because of how hyperactive and restless Dwarf types are. That, and the fact that they have a shorter memory than Syrian hamsters.

In order to tame a hamster, you need to play with it, touch it, talk to it, make yourself available to it. There are days when you can’t, and Dwarf hamsters forget things and people and interactions fast.

A Syrian will remember his owner even a week later, and will allow you to kind of touch him. A Dwarf will need you to talk to him daily, and touch and play with him.

Dwarf hamsters do not sit still, and need to run around and play and jump and dig and do everything at one, all day. Syrians are a bit more mellow, and will give your more opportunities to touch him, so you can tame him easier.

Then again, there are hamsters that simply can’t be tamed, and are very hard to handle. If you’ve got a biting hamster, or he’s very scared of you, you need to be extra careful.

Dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs

This is true for Campbell, Robo, and Siberian hamsters. If they were raised together with litter mates of the same sex, they can be kept together in the same cage. Again, if you’ve got more than one hamster, double or triple the cage size.

Keeping your Dwarf hammies together will only work if they are from the same litter, or were introduced when they were still babies and became ‘siblings’. 

If you’ve got an adult Dwarf, and want to introduce a baby dwarf, even if they’re of the same kind, it will not work. Neither will two separate adults. You can only do this with baby hamsters.And only if those babies were raised together.

If not, they will act like Syrian and Chinese hamsters. That means they will be very territorial and fight anything and anyone that comes into their cage, male or female.

It’s never a good idea to keep a Syrian or Chinese hamster with another hamster, of any kind. They are only solitary, and will be very aggressive. They won’t miss the company, don’t worry. You’re hurting them more by bringing them a cage mate than you’re helping.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

difference between syrian and dwarf hamster (3)

Syrian hamsters come in more color patterns

Syrians have a wider range of color patterns. Originally they were golden/orange, with some white on their bellies and chins, and a bit of grey on their ears. But natural variations were possible, and breeders took advantage of that.

So you can get almost any kind of color choice for your Syrian hamster. They can be golden like mine, they can be all in one color, they can be spotted, or maybe have a white sock, even a ringed hamster is possible.

Somehow, a long-haired variation was made possible through selective breeding, and you can now find the same range of colors, now with long hair.

Dwarf types have some variations as well, but they mostly have the same colors as the original hamsters they were bred from.

Winter Whites are mostly white all over. Chinese hamsters are sandy brown on their back, with a dark stripe running down their back, and a white belly.

The Robos have a color scheme much like the Chinese, with sandy brown on the back and white on the bellies, but they are much smaller and don’t have a stripe down their back.

Finally Campbell’s are darker than the other types, with a more grey-brown color scheme on their backs, and just a bit of white on their bellies. They look like they went through a pile of ash most of the time.

There are different illnesses the 2 types are prone to

All hamsters can develop a number of diseased and illnesses. But in general, the Dwarf types develop diabetes much easier than the Syrian. This is because of their small size, and because they can’t process too well the sugars on some foods.

Which is why there are certain food exceptions for Dwarf hamsters, that Syrians can eat, but Dwarves should stay away from, or eat very little.

The Syrian, on the other hand, has higher chances of getting a disease called wet-tail. This can happen mostly when they hamster is young and was just weaned from its mother. It’s mostly stress-based. But if it’s caught in its early stages (less than 24h) it can be treated. Otherwise it is fatal.

Hamsters do not get sick often, and aren’t sickly animals. But they don’t have a human’s stamina, so they will wilt fast if not given medical care as soon as you notice there is a problem.

Some feeding exceptions are necessary for Dwarf types

As mentioned before, Dwarf hamsters can’t process very sweet food. That can mean even simple things like a piece of carrot can be a bit too sweet for them.

So that means that fruits, and carrots, and sweet potato should be give sparingly, and in very small quantities to your Dwarf hamster.

Syrians on the other hand don’t have many restrictions. Yes, there are foods that are unsafe for any hamster, but Syrians are a bit easier to feed.

You can see a helpful list of safe and unsafe foods for hammies here, along with some treats that hamsters can safely nibble on.

Easier to find a Syrian hamster’s gender

Finding your hamster’s gender can be a hassle. But if you’ve got Dwarf hamsters that you want to keep together, this is crucial. Otherwise you’re going to get yourself a whole new litter in about 3 weeks.

For more info on exactly how to figure out your hamster’s gender, you need to check this out. You’ll find alternatives for hard to handle hamsters as well.

But a Syrian hamster will be easier to figure out because they are larger, even as babies. And the fur on Syrians is shorter and not as ruffled and all over the place as a Dwarf’s. Not to mention that trying to hold a baby Dwarf is nearly impossible.

Before you get any kind of hamster

A hamster will change your life, just like any other pet. But there are a few things you should think about. Like whether you’ll be able to properly care for him, from food to cage to attention and health.

Will you have the time to play with and tame your hamster ? Hamsters are mostly nocturnal and will come out when you’re ready for bed, so take into account your lifestyle, sleeping pattern, and how much time you can dedicate for the animal.

Do you have the budget for it ? Hamsters aren’t very expensive. They’re actually cheap, aside from the initial expenses. Actually you can check this cost of buying a hamster article, to get an estimate on how expensive or cheap it is to own a hamster.

Can you accommodate a hamster in your home ? His cage will take up some space, and he will need a certain temperature to be comfortable. Hamsters also scare easily, and do things that will look and sound odd.

Do you have a cat in your home ? A hamster and a cat are pretty much the worst idea ever, since they’re very different animals.

You might want to read the 15 essential steps on taking care of your hamster before you get one, in the first place.

A word from Teddy

I hope you’re clear on the differences between us hammies now. I know my Dwarf cousins can be confusing, and look the same for someone who’s never met them before. But they’re all a personality of their own, and they can make you just as happy as one of my kind.

If you want t know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below.

Related blog post
Hamster vs Gerbil – Which Is A Better Pet For You ?
Hamster vs Gerbil – Which Is A Better Pet For You ?Wondering what to choose between a hamster and a gerbil ? After all, they’re both so very cute and cuddly, but you can’t keep them both. But which should you choose ? Let’s see some details about each pet, so you can make a wise decision. If you want to know how a hamster would do if he were living with a gerbil, then you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleIs a rodent a good pet for you ?About the hamsterAbout the gerbilThe hamster lives alone, the gerbil loves a groupCage, toys, and bedding for the hamster and the gerbilFood and treats for the hamster and the gerbilHealth problems the two can getA word from Teddy Is a rodent a good pet for you ? Before we go any further, you need to ask yourself this question. Is a rodent a good pet for you ? Both the hamster and the gerbil are rodents, they’re both very small and agile, and not easy to catch once they’ve escaped. As rodents, they need plenty of wood to chew on – their teeth never stop growing and need to be filed down constantly. They will love to hide and spend lots of time digging, burrowing, and generally not being noticeable. After all, these poor souls have always been food for other, larger animals. It’s their instinct to hide and taming them can take a while. Very important: if you have children, especially if they’re very young and they’re begging you to get them a hammy or a gerbil, watch out. Both of these pets are too fragile and high-maintenance for a child. The cleaning, taming, and often even the playing will be passed onto you. Not every child is like this, I know, but a hamster is not a puppy. A hamster or a gerbil can’t be handled like a puppy or a grown cat, and can’t match the child’s energy, nor the appetite for play. They’re very sensitive creatures. Still, if this kind of pet sounds alright for you (it did for me), whether you have kids or not, then by all means go and get yourself either a hamster or a gerbil. They’ll bring countless moments of ”awwww” and ”ooooh” to your life, starting with how cute they look when they sleep, and ending with the odd sounds they can make sometimes. Now let’s see about each pet, so you know which would be the best for you. About the hamster Hamsters are very small, fluffy creatures. There are 5 types of hamsters you can choose from, and none of them ever grow very large. They all would fit in the palm of your hand, even as adults. Those 5 types are: Syrian hamsters – the biggest of the bunch, and the most common as a pet. Dwarf types – Roborovski, Campbell, Djungarian hammies. Half the size of a Syrian. Chinese hamsters, sometimes called Chinese Dwarf hammies. The easiest to confuse with a gerbil, since they have a bit of a tail. Hamsters come from the general, wide area of south Turkey, Syria, Mongolia, northern China, Russia, Siberia. That’s an area with not much vegetation going on, and most of it is a sort of desert, either a hot sandy one (Syria and Turkey) or a cold, tundra type. Hamsters have adapted to eat mostly grains and a few veggies, maybe an insect or two. They don’t need much water, and they usually live alone. The Dwarf types can tolerate another of their own species, if it’s a sibling and they still might fight sometimes. They’re mostly nocturnal, as pets. So getting a hamster would mean you might miss him if you go to bed around 10 PM and wake up early to go to work or school. In terms of shape, hamsters are short, stocky little creatures. The Dwarf types look like they have no neck at all, while the Syrians have a distinct teddybear-like face. About the gerbil Gerbils are, for the most part, hard to tell apart from a hamster. Especially if you’ve never had to tell the difference between them very often. The main difference is that gerbils have a long tail, longer than the Chinese hamster’s tail. And their hind legs are longer and thinner, since they do a lot of standing and jumping. Gerbils come from roughly the same area as hamsters. Mostly Mongolia and northern China. As such they might resemble the Dwarf hamsters, who come from there as well. As a difference though, gerbils live in colonies and they don’t do well on their own. They need company to enjoy themselves, and they don’t like being alone. Another difference is that gerbils aren’t exactly nocturnal, rather they sleep in patches and seem to be always awake. Gerbils do a lot of digging, more than hamsters actually. So their cage would need to be filled up with more bedding, so they can tunnel away as much as they like. Food for gerbils is very similar to the food for hamsters: mostly grains, a bit of fruit and veg, and a bit of protein if they can catch it. In terms of what their bodies do and what they need for a happy life, hamsters and gerbils do not need very different things. Except for 2 things, which if you get wrong, it can be very bad. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The hamster lives alone, the gerbil loves a group One of the things you need to know about, and the most dangerous to get wrong, is the social aspect of these pets. You see hamsters and gerbils are fundamentally opposites in terms of being social. Hamsters like to be on their own, they will not share anything. Even the Dwarf types, which you can sometimes manage to raise successfully in a same-sex pair, will argue often. To a degree that’s normal, but even so it puts much stress on the hamster. A gerbil on the other hand will not like being alone. Much like guinea pigs, gerbils need to be kept in pairs, at the very least. A lone gerbil will become depressed and lose his appetite. A human, while entertaining, will never be able to supplement the attention of another gerbil. After all, we don’t speak gerbil very well, do we ? So, please remember. A hamster should always be alone, a gerbil should always have a buddy. A buddy means either 3 females, or 2 males. Or anything over that number, since it will benefit them to be in a larger number. That will mean a larger cage though, so take care how many gerbils you get. Cage, toys, and bedding for the hamster and the gerbil Now when it comes to housing a hamster, that can be fairly easy. A cage big enough for a hamster will be a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s a cage big enough for a Syrian, although I recommend it for Dwarf type as well. Hamsters, like gerbils, will always pick a bigger cage if they can. Close quarters can make them stressed and nippy. A pair of gerbils would need a 12 x 20 inch cage, which is 30 x 51 cm. Not that very different from a Syrian cage. Still if you can afford to go for a bigger cage, do so. This is the second thing that needs to be done a certain way, otherwise your gerbils won’t be happy. While they do enjoy each other’s company, they also enjoy some space to run around in and have fun. Now, a good cage that would fit either a single hamster, or two gerbils is this one. It will provide air and lots of ventilation, being a wire cage. It’s also got a second level, which the gerbils or hamster can use as they wish, and it adds extra floor space. The wires in the cage are close together so that neither a gerbil nor a Dwarf hamster would be able to escape. And it’s got enough of a bottom to fill with bedding, so your gerbils have something to tunnel through. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Aside from the cage, both the gerbils and the hamster will need plenty of toys and objects in their cage. This means silly things like a cardboard tube can be amazing for them, since they both love to tunnel and they will stick their faces everywhere they can fit it. You can make most toys at home, with a bit of cardboard and creativity. For example an egg carton, with a few holes cut into it is going to be the best hide and seek toy ever. It just won’t last very long, since both the hamster and the gerbils will chew at them often. Some toys, like the exercise wheel, will need to be bought. This is mostly because the wheel needs to be silent, and run smooth, without a hitch. A tail and foot guard is welcome, and gerbil tails are not meant to get caught in anything. So an exercise wheel with just rungs, or wire mesh is not alright for gerbils. A solid-floored one, with not gaps for the little guys to catch their feet or tails on is great. One such example is this one, a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel which is both silent and solid. No tails or feet caught in this one, and it’s easy to spin both by a small Dwarf, and by a Syrian. Gerbils are alright in it too, and their tails will stay safe as well. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Aside from the wheel and the toys the cage will need bedding and a hideout. I recommend you get a wooden hideout, since these two pets will chew at everything, including their nest. As for the bedding, it can be wood shavings or paper bedding. Stay away from wood pellets, since they’re too hard for hamsters and gerbils. If you get wood shavings, make sure you keep away from cedar and pine since their strong aroma can choke the rodents. Food and treats for the hamster and the gerbil In terms of food, these two eat mostly the same things. Both are alright with grains, in fact it’s what they eat most of the time. Fruits are welcome, although some should be avoided – like citrus for example, or apple cores and peels. Vegetables are good for them as well, just keep them away from onion, garlic, leek, and other such veggies. Best to ask before you feed your hamster or gerbils anything new. Nuts and peanuts are a favorite among these guys, so they will enjoy the treat. Just stay away from sweets, saucy foods, spicy foods, or any kind of condiments at all. Their tiny bodies can’t process those things, and they often end up with digestive problems. For the most part hamsters and gerbils have the same foods and treats. Often they’re put on the same packaging to make things very clear. Health problems the two can get Their health problems are mostly the same. Both rodents need their teeth constantly filed down, otherwise they just grow too large. So dental problems can be a big deal, whether it’s overgrown teeth or infected broken teeth, or another problem. Ear and hearing problems can arise as well, and so can eye problems. Tumors and lumps are a topic that is common for hamsters and gerbils, actually for rodents in general. Most of the problems can be easily solved by a vet, but you will need a specific one. You’ll need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds. If you just look to a small pet vet, he might only be able to help with pets as small as cats. Normally hamsters have a 2-4 year lifespan, depending on their type. The Robo Dwarf lives the longest (2 years) while the Chinese lives a shorter life, about 2 years. Gerbils on the other hand have been known to live up to 5 years in captivity. So whichever one you choose as a pet, make sure you have the time and willingness to take care of them properly. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters are easy to confuse with gerbils, but we’re actually sort of cousins, twice removed. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
Hamster vs Rats And Mice – Which Should You Keep As Pets ?
Hamster vs Rats And Mice – Which Should You Keep As Pets ?If you’re looking to get a rodent, but can’t decide between hamsters, mice or rats then this article will help you sort that out. Unfortunately they can’t be all kept together, you need to pick just one kind of pet. But they’ve all got different needs, even if they are so similar. Let’s see a bit about each rodent, so you know which would be the best pet for you. If you want to know how a hamster would fare if he were to live in the same cage as a rat or mouse, then you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the hamster – general info + personalityAbout mice – general info + personalityAbout rats – general info + personalityFood difference between the 3 rodents (there aren’t any)Social needs of all 3 rodents and how they get along with ownersCage size and housing differencesA word from Teddy About the hamster – general info + personality A hamster is very small, can be as small as 2 inches/5 cm, and as large as 5 inches/13 cm. He doesn’t need as much room as a rabbit, and usually stays put. As in, leaving the hamster in his cage all his life is not a problem, as long as he has a large enough cage. He does need a bit of exercise, but this is where his exercise wheel comes to the rescue. Hammies don’t like to share and generally should not be housed together. The only exceptions are the Dwarf types, who can live with a sibling or two of the same sex. This is only true for siblings that have never been separated and live in a very large cage, so they won’t fight over food and toys and general resources. Even so, I recommend keeping any and all hamsters alone, one hamster per cage. This reduces the hamster’s stress levels and this way you make sure there are no unnecessary fights, which can sometimes be deadly. Hamsters are prey animals, so they’re used to running away and hiding. Their cages need to have plenty of hiding places, so they can feel safe. This also means that taming the hamster will not be as easy as taming a puppy. He will take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to trust you. And that trust can always be lost, or forgotten if you stop interacting with him for a few days. Still, hamsters make for very entertaining pets. It’s just that the vast majority of hamsters only come out of their hiding place at night. This means that if you go to bed before 10 PM you might just miss their waking up.  And if you wake up around 6 AM, they’ve just gone to bed. So I’d only recommend a hamster to a person who either stays up very late, or works night shifts and can catch the hamster awake more often. They’re also very sensitive animals, in that there is such a thing as handling them too much, and too little. They get grumpy if you wake them up, they won’t always want to stay in your hands… okay, they rarely want to stay put. They want to explore and see everything. Their personalities are not obvious from the start, when they’re babies. But once they grow up (3 months-ish) you’ll realize you’ve either got a Rambo type (all over the place, exploring, trying to intimidate you, not staying still) or the world’s laziest and relaxed furball. There is no in-between. All hamsters mellow down once they become old, it’s just that some are absolutely spastic when they’re young. About mice – general info + personality Mice are very social animals, and will generally do better if they’re kept in a small group. For example 3 females, or 2 males seems to be the best kind of match. There will always be one mouse trying to be the dominant one. Mice are much smaller than hamsters – smaller than a Dwarf sometimes – and are so much more agile and quick. This means that trying to handle a mouse is very hard, since he’ll be all over the place. This doesn’t mean they’re impossible to tame. But it is much harder than with a hamster. Usually mice are kept as pets to look at, rather than play with. Even if you do manage to hold onto one, he’ll almost immediately want to go exploring. Mice, like hamsters and rats, have poor eyesight and as a result they can’t really judge distances and heights. All 3 will try to jump off of ledges or out of your hands if they’ve had enough, but mice and hamsters are just plain terrible at this. They will jump from high places, even if they’re too high. Mice are only a slight bit smarter in this area. Still, seeing a small colony of mice interact and build their own little nests, and lay with every little toy is going to be fun. They’re almost always unpredictable, and seem not to care if they survive a climb or any special endeavor. Given how shall mice are, even the mellow, chill ones will seem skittish. That’s just the way mice are. They can get along with each other, but it’s a lot like with Dwarf hamsters. They must be siblings, and never been separated at all. Even then, they might argue from time to time. What sibling doesn’t, though ? About rats – general info + personality A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent. That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime. They’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters. Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them. When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal anything if ever left outside of their cage, and let them out your should from time to time. This is mostly because they need lots of stimulation, and sometimes being kept in their cage isn’t enough. You can always keep just one rat, but you should be warned that you’ll need to interact with him often if you want him to not get bored. A bored rat is never good news. He will try to escape, chew through a part of the cage you’d never expect, or just wait for the perfect moment when you’re opening his cage to take him out. But, a rat is a smart animal, and he will be very entertaining. He’ll tend to understand you better, and sometimes even sit still when you need him to, or when you just want to keep him cuddled in your arms. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Food difference between the 3 rodents (there aren’t any) When it comes to food, hamsters mice and rats eat pretty much everything. They all eat mostly grains, with some fruit and vegetables thrown in for good measure. Nuts and peanuts are welcome too, ans so it a bit of meta. It’s okay if it’s mealworms, it can even if a bit of boiled plain chicken. Do keep in mind that the serving sizes vary from animal to animal. A hamster will need 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried commercial food mix (depending on whether you’ve got a Dwarf or a Syrian). This is per hamster, per day. A mouse will need just the one teaspoon, once a day, aside from whatever treats you give them. A rat will need much more, amounting to 2 tablespoons of their commercial mix food. They’re much larger and need more food than the other two rodents. However all 3 have teeth that never stop growing, and they will need to gnaw on something all the time. This is where the dry grains or pellets come in handy. Social needs of all 3 rodents and how they get along with owners Hamsters are solitary animals. If you really want to, you can house a pair of Dwarf hamsters,  but that often doesn’t end well. This is mostly because hamsters are very territorial, and they end up fighting over everything, unless they have a very very large cage. The only way you can keep a pair of Dwarf hamsters is if they’re siblings, of the same gender (so 2 girls or 2 boys), and they’ve never been separated. Hammies do interact with their owners, but they don’t bond with them as much. They can be rather aloof and disinterested most of the time, unless you’ve got a treat in your hands. Mice can be kept in more than just pairs, but it’s the same story as with Dwarf hamsters. They should be siblings, of the same sex, and never separated. They’re very skittish and all over the place. Handling them – and as such taming them – is going to be difficult, like with Dwarf hamsters. They simply don’t sit still, and don’t really like being handled. They bond a little more with their owners than hamsters, but that doesn’t say much. Rats are social too, but they should be kept with a buddy if you can’t talk to them or handle them often. They can grow bored very easily, and need a whole lot of toys. Cage size and housing differences When it comes to housing these rodents, things aren’t very different. For example a hamster can live in a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is for one lone Syrian hamster, or two Dwarf types. This same size is enough for one male rat, or 3 female mice. Mice males need a cage almost as big as a Syrian’s, just for one male mouse. Females live together easier. When it comes to toys and objects inside their cages, all 3 rodents need plenty of things to play with. Rats need the most stimulation, and will end up getting bored the fastest. This means that giving them plenty of puzzle toys is going to help. Puzzle toys can be something like a maze made out of an egg carton with holes cut in one end, and a treat at the other end. All 3 rodents are great with mazes. Another such toys would be a cardboard tube with a treat inside, but very tightly packed so the pet can’t get to the treat easily. Climbing toys are another object rodents will love, but especially mice and rats since they are used to climbing pipes or small plants. Hamsters prefer the low ground and tunnels. Rats and mice will go for hammocks, or maybe ladders, suspended bridges, and so on. If it requires a bit of acrobatics skill, it’s a rat or mouse toys, not a hamster toy. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies sometimes get confused with mice and rats, but we’re a bit different actually. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Get Lonely ? Buddies And Toys For Your Hamster
Do Hamsters Get Lonely ? Buddies And Toys For Your HamsterIf you’re wondering if your hamster get a bit lonely and needs a friend, let’s clear that up. It’s a very common question for hamster owners, and I had that question too when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy). Here’s what I found out, and whether it’s worth getting your hamster a friend. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters get lonely ?Hamsters are not very sociable animalsWhy do pet stores keep hamsters together, you ask ? Pairing hamsters can be very delicate and is not always successfulA few considerations about the hamster’s cageYour hamster doesn’t really get bored eitherA word from Teddy So do hamsters get lonely ? No. Hamsters do not get lonely. They can live in a pair or small group if they have no choice, but there will be fights every now and then, and half the time they need to be separated into individual cages. If your hamster’s cage mate dies one day, introducing a new hamster is not a good idea. That always ends up with a fight, sometimes lethal. Hamsters are very territorial, and have evolved to protect what is theirs from other hamsters, at any cost. So let’s take a look into the hamster’s general personality, and why they wouldn’t ever be lonely. Hamsters are not very sociable animals While you’ve heard of, or seem people keep pairs of hamsters, that’s not always a good idea. You see in the wild hamsters are territorial – in captivity too – and will protect what is theirs. This means that every night, when the hamster is up and awake, he patrols his territory. He finds food and dodges predators, and if he ever finds another hamster, there will be a brutal, bloody fight. The only moment this does not happen is if a male meets a female in heat. Even then their mating ritual is fairly violent. So a pet hamster will pretty much do the same. There are some things you can’t breed out of a creature, and this is one of them. Besides, hamsters have only ever been pets for the last century or so. Why do pet stores keep hamsters together, you ask ?  Good question, and a very common one. You see, baby hamsters (up to 12 weeks old) are a bit less territorial than adults and will be fairly okay with sharing with their siblings. However once the hamster reaches 4 weeks, he’s weaned and they can reproduce. So that means splitting into same-sex pairs, for obvious reasons. Most hamsters get adopted before they reach adulthood (12 weeks), but the closer they get to that mark the more aggressive they become with their siblings. Pet shops are a bit short on space, and will keep hamsters together as long as they possibly can, until they notice the hamsters starting to fight too much. So in short, a mix between not enough space, and the hamsters being somewhat docile until they’re adults are the main reasons pet shops keep hamsters together. This is especially stressful for Syrian hamsters and Chinese Dwarfs, who are the most territorial and aggressive hamsters out there. Those two can never live with another hamster, not even their own siblings. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pairing hamsters can be very delicate and is not always successful You can always get a pair of hamsters, but that means you’ll need to get Dwarf hamsters. Those are the only hamsters that can live with another hamster, and only under certain circumstances. You see, hamsters are territorial and will not share anything. This is true for Dwarf hamsters too, however they can be a bit more lenient towards siblings they’ve grown up with, and have never been separated from. So in short the only way you can pair Dwarves is if they’re siblings, of the same sex, and have never been separated. They will need to be introduced to the same cage, at the same time, and the cage must be new (not have any of their scents beforehand). Even so, there can still be fights every now and then. One hamster can become too dominant and start bullying the other one, who will in turn become stressed. This means a host of health issues for the bullied hamster and behaviors like cage chewing or trying to escape. There are times when the fights become very violent, and if they ever get bloody you need to separate the two. A bit of sparring and asserting of dominance is normal, but drawing blood is serious business. Giving your hamsters room to hide and run away from each other is essential, so the bullied one can get free. A few considerations about the hamster’s cage A very large cage helps keep a pair of hamsters from fighting too much. Lots of space, plenty of hideouts, food bowls, water bottles and toys, and they should be fine. They can still fight, but a large cage with many accessories is all you can do to lower the chances. For example the absolute minimum for a hamster’s cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and I’d recommend it for a Dwarf pair too. However a cage larger than this is welcome, but hard to find. Unfortunately most cages on the market are smaller than this, or this size at most. You’re better off looking for the Detolf shelf from Ikea – expensive, yes, but there is no complaining about your hamsters not having enough space there. If you’ve got a lone hamster – which is what I’d recommend – he will still benefit from a large cage. The more space the hamster has to run around in, play, and generally just be a hamster, the better. Your hamster doesn’t really get bored either You might think a lone hamster will get bored. As in, if he’s a lone all day, every day, he’s probably sad and bored all the time. Well, the truth is that hamsters simply aren’t like us humans. They don’t have big goals, are not trying to build something with their lives, and as such aren’t really bothered by being kept in a cage. As long as the cage has toys and plenty of things to do, he’s just peachy. By this I mean a wheel for your hamster to run in, and an added exercise ball for time outside of his cage will help too. A few toys – some DYI some store-bought – will relieve a lot of boredom. Hamsters especially love puzzle toys, like a few bits of food inside a cardboard cube that he’s going to have to tear open to get inside to the food. Tubes are another option, since they give your hamster time outside the cage, and are also a good imitation of their nest in the wild. If you get toys for your hamster, make sure they’re made of wood since hamsters love to chew on everything they can, including their own nest. True, a hamster with a buddy will definitely never be bored. But the risk of them not getting along is high enough that it might not be worth it. A word from Teddy I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. I know you mean well, but us hamsters don’t really get lonely. We’re perfectly fine on our own, and don’t really crave company. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
About The Dwarf Hamsters – Roborovski, Djungarian, Campbell
About The Dwarf Hamsters – Roborovski, Djungarian, CampbellIf you’re researching hamsters, and want to know more about the Dwarf types, let me help you. There are 3 main types of Dwarf hamsters, and they can be more than a bit confusing. We’ll take a look at each Dwarf type, and how it’s different from all the rest, and then talk about general care and how to keep them happy. Table of Contents ToggleAn overview of Dwarf hamstersAbout the Roborovski Dwarf hamsterAbout the Djungarian/Siberian/Winter white hamsterAbout the Campbell Dwarf hamsterAbout the Dwarf hamster’s body and health problemsWhat do Dwarf hamsters eat ?What size cage does a Dwarf hamster need ?Toys and cage objects Dwarf hamsters would likeCan Dwarf hamsters live together ?Average lifespan of Dwarf hamstersA word from Teddy An overview of Dwarf hamsters Dwarf hamsters are 3 main types of hamster, actually. They all come from roughly the same area, which is northern China, southern Russia, Mongolia, Siberia and they are very well adapted to those lands. Despite that, you will often find the 3 types named as Russian Dwarf, and that’s it. This can be both confusing and frustrating, especially when trying to figure out if they need anything specific, or even just what kind of hamster you’ve got. Here’s the 3 main Dwarf hamster types: The Roborovski Dwarf, Also names Russian Dwarf, he is the tiniest and has a distinct appearance from the rest. The Campbell Dwarf, also sometimes called Russian Dwarf. Is often confused with the Djungarian. The Djungarian Dwarf, also named Winter White, or Siberian, or (again) Russian Dwarf. The only one who can adapt his fur to winter (turns white) Each of the 3 types was discovered in different years, which I’ll cover in the section about each type. But all of them ended up as pets because of their cute and fuzzy faces, incredibly quick feet, and acceptance of living in groups. Given their small size, agility, speed, and restlessness, these hamsters are best kept as observational pets. Trying to handle them is harder than with a Syrian, just because they’re so very small and won’t sit still at all. Never give a Dwarf hamster to a child, since these hammies need a person with quick reflexes and lots of patience to be handled properly. But why are they called Dwarf hamsters, though ? Well, because they were all discovered after the Syrian hamster. And were always measured against that little guy. This makes the Dwarf hamsters only half as big as a Syrian, hence the name Dwarf. There are some very clear differences between the Dwarf types and the Syrian, you can read more about them here. If you’re not very sure which breed you have, or if you have a Dwarf, then check out this article for help. About the Roborovski Dwarf hamster The Roborovski (or Robo for short) is the tiniest of the bunch. He was first discovered in 1894 by a Russian expeditioner (Roborovski), and was first brought into the general public’s attention in 1960. That’s when they became regulars at the London Zoo, and have since become popular pets. The Robo is a small (very small) hamster, reaching about 2 inches/5 cm and that’s it. From nose to tail, that’s the whole hamster. His fur (like all Dwarf types) is brown-ish on the back, with white on his belly. He does have a white spot above each eye, much like the spots above a Doberman or Rottweiler’s eyes. The Roborovski hamster doesn’t have a stripe down his back, nor a patch on his head like the other Dwarf types. His feet are furry (unlike the Syrian) and he doesn’t have a distinct neck, looking more like a very stocky, hastily put-together furball. Still, they’re incredibly fast and wriggly, and can live in bunches if you’ve got a cage large enough. About the Djungarian/Siberian/Winter white hamster This is the most confusing hamster type, mostly because everyone keeps calling him a different name. He is classified as Phodopus sungorus, which comes from the region in China this hamster was discovered in, which is Dzungaria. Phodopus is the general name given to all Dwarf types. So the official name would be Djungarian Dwarf hamster, but many people still call him Winter White, or Siberian. He is also found in Siberia, and he does Change his fur when winter comes, to mostly white. Usually the Djungarian is about 3 inches/7 cm long, and has a grey-ish brown color on his back. He does have a stripe going down his back, a dark, thick stripe of dark grey or black. His belly is white, and his feet are furry, and he has a dark patch on his head, where the stripe starts from. As pets, the breeders have tried for several color patterns, and have come up with mostly white, grey, white with grey dustings. Once winter comes and the days shorten – the lack of light is the trigger here – the Djungarian’s fur changes to mostly or completely white, so blend in with the snow. In captivity this doesn’t really happen, since the light cycles don’t have as much of an impact. These hamsters also regulate their internal body temp in the winter in order to survive the cold. About the Campbell Dwarf hamster The Campbell is often mistaken with the Djungarian, simply because they look so much alike. However the difference is that Campbells have light grey on their bellies, instead of white like the Djungarians. Their stripe down the back is less obvious and thinner, and there is no dark patch on their head. They don’t change their fur when winter comes, and in the wild they live a bit farther south than the Djugarians. Djungarians and Campbells can breed together, but the offspring are born with health problems and less fertile. The hybrids can breed between themselves, but the resulting litters are smaller and smaller, and have more and more health problems. This is only possible with a Djungarian male and a Campbell female. A Campbell male and Djungarian female will not result in a live birth. About the Dwarf hamster’s body and health problems Usually the Dwarf hamsters are around 3 inches/7 cm long, with short stocky bodies. Their fur (the hairs themselves) seem to be longer than the Syrians, only because the hamsters are so small. As such, the Dwarf types look extra fluffy, and the furred feet help with this appearance. These hamsters are used to colder temperatures, although they still need a temp around 20-23 C/68-75 F.  They can suffer common colds and have health issues like any other hamster. But they are prone to diabetes most of all, given their small size and how their bodies are built. Given their small size, finding the hamster’s gender can be difficult, especially with babies. Unfortunately that’s the most important moment these hamsters need to be separated, otherwise unwanted litters can happen. Especially if you’re planning on bringing a pair home. Spaying or neutering the hamster is dangerous, since they’re so very small and they most probably wouldn’t survive the surgery. What do Dwarf hamsters eat ? Dwarf hamsters are omnivores, meaning they will eat almost anything. There ares some unsafe foods for them, like spicy or acidic foods. For example citrus, onion, garlic, leek, spicy peppers and so on are not safe for hamsters. They will often eat grains, and that’s the majority of their diet. They also eat fruits and vegetables, if they can find them. Nuts and seeds are another option, again if they can find them. As for protein, they are alright with eating a couple of insects or worms if they happen upon them At home you can feed your Dwarf hamster a commercial food mix, since those are well thought-out and have the wild hamster’s diet in mind. Aside from that you can feed the hammy food from your fridge or pantry, although not all foods are safe. A safe and unsafe food list can be found here. Do take care with Dwarf hamsters, whether they’re Robos, Campbells or Djungarians. They’re prone to diabetes so sweet foods, even those on the safe list, are to be avoided or only given in minimal amounts. This includes most fruits (which should be given without seeds and peeled when possible), and carrots or sweet potatoes, or corn. Bread, pasta and rice should be given sparingly or not at all, since they contribute greatly to the glucose levels in the hamster’s body. It’s not just the sugar that does that, but the carb-heavy foods as well. Also make sure these little guys get plenty of exercise to delay(or even avoid) the onset of diabetes, or even just obesity since they are prone to that as well. As for serving sizes, Dwarf hamsters only need a teaspoon per hamster, per day. That’s the dried food mix that comes in the box. Anything else you supplement alongside that should be checked with the safe foods list. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) What size cage does a Dwarf hamster need ? For the most part Dwarf hamsters need a cage about half as large as a Syrian’s cage, which is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. However I would recommend that measurement to be applied to a single Dwarf as well, seeing as the more space he has, the better he will feel. That being said, you can keep two Dwarf hamsters in a Syrian-sized cage, expect occasional bickering. To a degree this is normal, and we’ll discuss that in the next part of the article. Whenever you look for a cage for your Dwarf hamster, you should make sure it’s very well secured. Given how incredibly small these guys are, they can wedge themselves in some really odd places. So if at all possible, something like a large aquarium would be good. A good potion would be the the Ikea Detolf. It’s basically one big standing shelf rack, you lay it on its side, and you lake the shelves out. Constructing a wire mesh is easy enough, tutorials are available in many places online. But, the big downside is that it’s a big and heavy ‘cage’, and you’re going to keep it in one place. You’ve got to have the space necessary in your home. It can be more expensive, but it’s got enough space for two Dwarf hammies. However if a Detolf or a very very big aquarium isn’t possible for you – it isn’t for most people – either because of budget or space you can try a regular cage. Most cages on the market are too small for hamsters, even for a Dwarf hamster. So I recommend looking for as big a cage you can find, even if your hamster is just a Dwarf. For example this one is large enough for even two Dwarf hamsters, although I recommend you only keep one. The space between the bars is small enough so the hamster won’t get out, and there are many sides to open the cage from. There is an extra level, which is adjustable and you can put it wherever you like. Hammies prefer the ground floor the most, so try not to put the level up too high. They might burrow under the level though, so don’t be surprised if that happens. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see for yourself. Toys and cage objects Dwarf hamsters would like Hamsters, Dwarf or not, need lots of things to do. They have a whole lot of energy and they are all over the place. This is especially true for the Dwarf hamsters out there, given how much more spazzy they are compared to the larger Syrian. So, the number one way to make sure your Dwarf hamster spends all that extra energy is an exercise wheel. I say this because hamsters are pretty much born to run, and Dwarf types are the best runners. This is what they do most of the night. A bored hamster, or one with too much energy and not much to do, will end up chewing the bars, or picking a fight with his cage mate, being nippy, and generally hard to handle. Best to give him plenty of opportunities to exercise and use his little hamster brain like for puzzles. But first, the exercise. A Dwarf hamster can make do with a smaller wheel, yes. Even a 7 inch/18 cm one would be enough. But often enough the hamsters choose a large wheel to run in, in order to keep their backs at least straight, if not hunched like they always keep them on the ground. This means a 9 inch/ 23 cm wheel will be great for their backs and will avoid lots of health problems in the future. For example this one is a heavy bottom wheel, and that means it won’t move around the cage when the hamsters run in it. It’s also got a tail and foot guard, so the hamster doesn’t get himself caught in anything. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and check the wheel for yourself. Another thing to make sure your Dwarf hamster has is toys, lots and lots of toys. Many of them can be made at home, some need to be bought – more on that here. But climbing toys, or cardboard tunnels, or hide and seek toys made of an egg carton with holes in it, they’re all great toys for hamsters. Remember that hamsters are very curious, and they will stick their faces into every little thing that fits, and look for food. Or just explore. So you can make your little Dwarf happy with chew toys, tubes, climbing toys, puzzle toys, and so on. For bedding I recommend using wood shavings, and sticking to aspen as the preferred wood. Stay away from cedar and pine, since their strong scent will suffocate the hamster. Paper bedding is an option too. If you’re keeping more than one hamster, keep in mind that you’ll need two of each. Two hideouts/huts, two wheels, two food bowls, two water bottles, and so on. This reduces the reasons the Dwarf hamsters might fight, and generally give you happier hamsters. Can Dwarf hamsters live together ? Yes and no. Yes, as in they are able to live with a same-sex sibling or two, as long as they’ve never been separated and have always shared something, from their first days as hamsters. And they have a very big cage, or the Detolf I mentioned earlier. Even so, one hamster will be more dominant – this is normal – and will try to boss around the other one. Things can get out of hand when the bullied hamster becomes stressed, or the bully crosses the line. Fights can happen, and to a degree they’re normal. Squeaking, chasing, standing on top of each other and so on is acceptable. But when the fights become frequent, you need to worry. If blood has been drawn, those two will need to be kept in separate cages. I’d also say no, Dwarf hamsters can’t live together solely for the fact that the stress levels in a shared cage – no matter how big the cage – are just too high for hamsters. Seeing as hamsters are terribly bad at managing stress, this often results in sickness or injuries. Loss of appetite, dehydration, loss of fur, irritability, depression, even actual bites and cuts and bruises. Hamsters are indeed territorial creatures, and don’t share very easily. Deadly fights can happen between siblings, even if they’ve never shown any obvious sign of irritation before. If you’re planning to keep a pair of hamsters, always keep them as a same-sex pair to avoid pregnancies. You can find info on determining the hamster’s gender here. My personal advice would be to keep any and all hamsters – Dwarf or not – alone, one hamster per cage. If you want to keep them together, you can, and they will survive for the most part. It’s up to you and how much you think you can handle. Average lifespan of Dwarf hamsters The usual lifespan of hamsters is between 2 to 4 years, but this is only because the Roborovski Dwarf is raising the bar. Roborovskies can live up to 4 years, the longest lifespan of any pet hamster. The Campbell live for about 2-2.5 years, while the Djungarians can reach 2-3 years. When the hamsters reach their second birthday, they’re considered old, and  you will see some health problems come up. But, since the hamster is first born, it takes 3 months to reach adulthood. Babies can breed right after they’re weaned, which is about 4 weeks old. This is why separating them into same sex groups is mandatory. Once they’ve become adults, and have mated, the gestation period is between 18 and 22 days, with the Robo having the longest (20-22). While Robo and Djungarian males should be kept away from the female after mating, the Campbells have been observed to help the female along. At least in the wild, and at least with the birthing process. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters look very much alike, but we’re actually different types. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
Why Is My Hamster Breathing Fast? 5 Main Reasons
Why Is My Hamster Breathing Fast? 5 Main ReasonsHamsters breathe pretty fast in general, but for a new owner that doesn’t know how fast they should breathe, it might be concerning to see your hamster breathing fast while they sleep. Of course, they can develop respiratory problems, so it is better to know what a regular breathing rate is for hamsters to know if it’s ok. It is easier to spot those problems if you have had your hamster for some time and you know how fast they usually breathe, but it is impossible to know when you just got it. In this article, I will talk about what is a normal and an abnormal breathing rate for hamsters. Unfortunately, all I can give you is a pretty wide range. But don’t worry, there are other signs you can check to ensure your hamster is ok. Table of Contents ToggleWhy is my hamster breathing fast?Hamster respiratory problems1. Cold and flu2. Pneumonia3. Stress4. Tumors and lumps5 ObesityHow to exercise your hamster?Conclusion Why is my hamster breathing fast? Hamsters breathe at least three times faster than humans, so they breathe pretty fast. If you didn’t notice any change in your hamster’s breathing rate, there might not be any actual respiratory problems, but if you somehow noticed that they are breathing faster lately, you should get your little hamster to a specialized vet immediately. A hamster’s heart rate is between 34-114 bpm, which is a wide range but as in our case, it varies a lot from one hamster to another, and many other factors can affect this rate. Factors like the hamster’s age, health condition, weight, stress level, and so on. One very important thing about hamsters is that they make noises when they have a problem. Otherwise they are quiet, except for some random squeaky sounds they make when they sleep, those can be associated with dreaming. Yes, you’ve heard that right, your little furball can dream. So if you notice that your hamster is breathing fast and it is also sneezing and has a wheezing breath, there might be a respiratory problem and you have to get your hamster to the vet as soon as possible. Hamster respiratory problems Here are a few common respiratory problems in hamsters or problems that affect how fast a hamster breath. 1. Cold and flu Hamsters can get catch a cold or the flu as we can, they can also get it from us, so you should avoid playing with your hamster when you are sick. A cold hamster is more likely to be lethargic and unwilling to move around. You may also notice that your hamster is eating less than usual or has lost a significant amount of weight. Other signs that your hamster is cold include shivering, red eyes, and sneezing. If your hamster shows any of these signs, you should take them to a vet as soon as possible in order to assess the situation and provide treatment if necessary. Those problems are much more dangerous for your little furball than for you, so don’t treat them lightly. 2. Pneumonia Living in a cage, which prevents them from burrowing for warmth, and exposing them to drafts for extended periods, increases the risk of rodents developing serious pneumonia. Though this illness can be remedied in humans, it can have much more serious effects on the small respiratory system of a rodent. Signs of pneumonia in hamsters include: Pus or mucus oozing from the nose or eyes. Difficulty breathing. Loss of appetite. Lack of activity. So if you notice any of these signs, then your hamster might be sick and you have to get it to a specialized vet. 3. Stress Hamsters are very anxious animals and are easily stressed, which might make them breathe faster and heavier. There are many reasons for your hamster to be stressed, ranging from not having enough space in the cage to not liking the interaction with a human and so on.  The signs of a stressed hamster are very important, and while the reason is hard to understand since it can be anything, the signs are quite clear. Signs of a stressed hamster include: Hiding away. Being hostile. Not eating as much. Becoming immobile when you are around them. Drooling excessively and being overly active. 4. Tumors and lumps Here is an entire article I wrote about tumors and lumps in hamsters, I will not get into as many details here as in that article to not repeat myself. However, it is important to know that hamsters can develop tumors and lumps and if they are on the chest area, it might affect the hamster’s respiratory rate. So if you notice that your hamster is breathing faster than usual, you might want to check if there are any tumors on its chest. 5 Obesity This is one of the most obvious reasons a hamster breathes faster or more heavily. If you want to know why your hamster is fat and how to make it slim without stressing it, check out my article on three main reasons a hamster can be fat. In that article, I talk about how much you should feed a hamster, how often, and other things that you should be aware of. How to exercise your hamster? An active hamster is less likely to have respiratory problems, so it is crucial to give our hamsters all tools they need to exercise properly. When we talk about an inactive hamster, one of the main reasons is a small cage without enough space for a proper wheel and other exercising toys and also not enough space for bedding for your hamster to dig in. Here is a big enough cage that you can find on amazon without hurting your wallet too much.   Hamster cages can get quite expensive, but this one is great value for money. It isn’t a fancy cage, but you don’t necessarily need one with many tunnels and other stuff since you can add those yourself in the cage if it’s big enough. So if you start with a big enough cage, your hamster will most likely get enough exercise. The next important thing to get for your hamster is a proper wheel. They spend most of their time in the wheel when they are active so having a good one is crucial. The hamster wheel should be big enough for your hamster to exercise in it without bending his back because this will affect their spine health over time. Here is the best one I could find on amazon for you, it is an 11-inch plastic wheel that can be placed in the cage.   If you have a small cage that can not fit an 11-inch wheel, here is a 9-inch one that is also good enough for most hamsters.   No matter which one of those two you choose or any other good wheel you can find, it is important to get a big enough wheel for your hamster. Usually, they need a bigger cage and wheel than you might expect if you have no experience with hamster pets. The exercise a hamster gets from playing with you is nonsignificant compared to the exercise they get in the cage and wheel.  So it doesn’t matter if you get your hamster out of the cage more often, if the cage is too small or they don’t have a wheel, they will not get enough exercise, and this will lead to some health issues, including respiratory ones. Some hamsters don’t use the wheel as often, and that is unfortunate since, for a pet hamster, that is where they get the most out of their exercise. Someone had a hamster that was going in the wheel only to sit there or sleep from time to time. So, if your hamster doesn’t want to exercise in the wheel, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to motivate it. However, if they don’t go in the wheel at all, you might want to try to place some treats in there for them to find the wheel and find out that it is moving. Conclusion In normal conditions, hamsters breathe pretty fast, between 34-114 bpm, so it’s hard to know when they have a problem only judging by their breathing rate, but if they have other symptoms we talked about, you have to get your hamster to the vet. I hope this article helped you asses properly if your hamster is sick or everything is normal, but you didn’t realize until now how fast those little furballs breathe. [...] Read more...
Are Hamsters Nocturnal ? – All About Your Hamster’s Routine
Are Hamsters Nocturnal ? – All About Your Hamster’s RoutineWhen you first got your hamster you probably asked yourself why it doesn’t come out during the day. Is it sick ? Is it afraid ? Is there anything you can do ? I know I was a bit worried when I first got my Teddy – he is my first ever hamster. I did not know until him what hamsters do during the day, or at night. But after talking to some hamster owner friends of mine, and watching my own hamster, I got my answers. Table of Contents ToggleSo are hamsters nocturnal or not ?How being crepuscular helps wild hamsters surviveSome hamsters are nocturnal, or even diurnalHamsters wake up for a few minutes in daytime as wellHamsters make weird sounds during the day tooYour hamster’s routine – what he usually doesHow to gently wake up your hamsterCaring for a nocturnal or crepuscular hamsterDoes your hamster need the light on at night ?A word from Teddy So are hamsters nocturnal or not ? Pet hamsters are nocturnal. Hamsters sleep during the day and wake up at night, so they can avoid predators. This means that most of the time you will only see your hamster before you go to bed. The reason pet hamsters are nocturnal is because there’s more activity near their habitat all day, to they adjust their schedule accordingly. Keep in mind that hamsters are solitary creatures and prefer to be left alone. They feel most comfortable when it’s quiet outside, and for most pet hamsters that means the night, when everyone at home is asleep. Of course, some pet hamsters may prefer the daytime and that’s fine. In short, hamsters end up being or seeming to be nocturnal because most folks only see hamsters who are pets, not wild ones. So, since pet hamsters tend to only come out at night, they end up being nocturnal. Wild hamsters have a more flexible schedule, and are actually crepuscular creatures. That means they come out at sunrise and sunset, when the light is easier on their sensitive eyes, and the temperature much more bearable. How being crepuscular helps wild hamsters survive Hamsters are prey, and they evolved to come out mostly at dawn and dusk because their main predators will hunt them during the day or the night. Those predators aren’t very active at dawn or dusk. Another reason is that, while most hamsters come from desert areas, they can’t stand high heat. Nor do they tolerate very low temperatures. Hamsters are most comfortable in a 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit temperature range. And that is usually found during sunset and at sunrise. So being crepuscular is mostly an evolutionary advantage. Some hamsters are nocturnal, or even diurnal This can happen, because hamsters have their own personalities. It’s not something that you’ll see straight away at the pet shop. But your hammy could be a night hamster, and only come out late at night. For example my Teddy comes out around 8-9 PM, and I see him up even in the middle of the night if I walk past his cage. He seems to get some rest once I wake up, which is around 5 AM. Then comes out again around 7 AM for about half an hour, and then retires for the rest of the day. There are hamsters out there who are only awake during daytime. This is very rare but it can happen. It depends entirely on your hamster’s personality, but there are a few factors involved, like: If it’s too cold he won’t come out, and might even hibernate. If it’s too hot, again he will not come out. If he feels the coast is clear and feels that he is safe, he might come out to see what you’re doing during the day. Your hamster’s routine helps him keep a sort of internal clock. Since in your home there is no natural difference in temperature or light for your hamster to use as a guideline, his waking hours might shift over time. Hamsters wake up for a few minutes in daytime as well You can sometimes see your hamster during the day for a few minutes. Maybe he got up  for a sip of water, or maybe he did not leave the house but you hear him munching on some food in his house. Or, maybe he woke up because you moved his cage. Hamsters are very sensitive and will wake up easily, even if they do no leave their home. Something as simple as picking up and moving his cage can wake him up. This is the case with my Teddy. After work I usually need a nap, but Teddy sometimes chooses that moment to have a snack, which will wake me up. So I always move his cage to the other room, and I always see him come out a bit, all sleepy, to see what happened. Hamsters make weird sounds during the day too Even if you can’t see him, your hamster is sometimes awake in his little home, doing he knows what. And sometimes, weird noises come from that home. You’ll have a hard time seeing inside his home to figure out the reason. His home is usually packed with bedding and you can’t see through it. But he might sometimes ‘bark’ – I have no better way to explain this. It’s like a cross between a tiny bark and a hiccup, and it can last for 2 minutes sometimes. It can be completely random, and not seem to have an obvious reason. Other times your hammy might be chewing on a piece of cardboard, or eating something from his stash (hamsters keep a food stash in their homes). So you might hear chattering and tiny biting sounds from his home. Your hamster’s routine – what he usually does If you’ve observed your hamster when he is awake, you’ll know that what he does is both incredibly funny and boring at the same time. He can run and run and run in his wheel and look like he’s about to be swooped by an eagle. The he’ll suddenly stop and dart around his cage like he’s avoiding some other predator. The best parts are when he suddenly stops. Not when he freezes to hear something or check what that sound means. I mean when he just stops moving at all and even when you come to talk to him he’ll just stare at you. This can last for a few minutes. The weirdest moment like this was one where Teddy was sitting upright, holding a cage wire with one paw. More like resting his paw on it. And he was just looking at me. He did not change his position when I came close and moved around his cage, he just turned his head towards me and kept staring. After a couple of minutes he went to drink some water and that was it. Aside from things like these, hamsters don’t seem to do much. When they’re awake you can play with them, feed them treats with your hand, put them in an exercise ball, and even train them to stay on your hand. If you want to give your hamster a way to get a lot of exercise, here’s what to look for in a hamster exercise wheel. Or, you can look for a hamster exercise ball and watch him be funny in that. Don’t leave him more than 30 minutes in the ball though ! (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to gently wake up your hamster If, for whatever reason, you need your hamster awake right now, you can try this. Get a treat or kind of food he likes a lot, a small piece. And gently tap on the side of his cage and talk to him, coaxing him out. You’ll hear the rustle of bedding in his home as he wakes up and turns towards you. At first you’ll just see his nose, sniffing to ‘see’ what’s going on. That’s when it’s best to have the treat close enough to his home that he can detect it easily. Then you’ll see him slowly come out, with sleepy small eyes, and his ears tucked back. He’ll reach towards the treat and you can pick him up. If you want to know what kind of treats are okay for your hamster, here’s a list of foods and treats he can have and which he should avoid. Hamsters are like humans when they wake up. Groggy, and a bit confused. So for a few minutes your hamster will be extra-tame when you handle him. But I do not recommend abusing this method, since waking up your hamster too many times when he sleeps will get him frustrated. He will not be able to rest enough, and you’ll end up with a jittery, angry hamster biting the cage and possibly you. Caring for a nocturnal or crepuscular hamster Your hamster being awake in the latter part of the day, or at night, has some considerations. First, the playtime is shorter and you’ll need to work every day to train your hamster to be relaxed around you. Syrian hamsters remember interactions for up to a week, while the smaller breeds like the Chinese or Siberian need daily interaction. Second, it’s best to leave food for your hamster before he ‘starts his day’ so he has fresh food to nibble on. I usually leave Teddy 2 teaspoons of grains and pellets, enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Since you will probably be sleeping the night away, your hamster eating will not be something you’ll witness often. But he will eat, don’t worry. Third, it’s best to leave the thermostat on a temperature that’s suitable for your hamster for the night. That’s around 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit. Make sure the room you keep your hamster in is not drafty or exposed to harsh light. Actually, it might be best if you check out my article on the right temperature for your hamster, and how to make him as comfortable as possible. Does your hamster need the light on at night ? Your hamster is nocturnal, or crepuscular, and you’re sleeping when he’s up. Would he need a night light ? Or the actual light in the room on ? Well, hamsters don’t really use their eyes, actually. Their vision is very poor. Hamsters use their sense of smell and hearing to navigate their environment. So leaving a light on is not necessary. In some cases, in might be a bad idea since their eyes are very sensitive and very bright, harsh light can hurt them. For example direct sunlight is not very good for your hamster’s eyes. My Teddy has a night light, but it’s not for him. It’s for me so I don’t bump into something at night when I go get a glass of water. He’s had the night light, and he’s had complete darkness as well. He was fine every morning, so a night light will not make much difference. A word from Teddy If you’re reading this then you’re probably wondering about your hamster. If he’s anything like me, he probably sleeps during the day and then runs all night. We hamsters have a different schedule than humans, so it might be a bit weird at first. But you’ll get used to it really fast. The face neighbors and friends make when you tell them we’re awake at night and sleep during the day is priceless though. “Don’t they get tired ??” they ask. Then they realize what they just asked and move along. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find great info on the best kind of food for us, how much water we need, and how much exercise we need as well. [...] Read more...