Dwarf hamsters are much smaller sized hamsters than Syrian or Golden hamsters and have become a popular pet for children, teenagers and even adults.
But looking after a Dwarf hamster requires a great deal of responsibility.
This guide will provide a general overview to Dwarf hamsters; what you will need and how to look after a happy hammie.
Why are they called Dwarf hamsters?
Syrian hamsters are the most popular type of hamster sold as pets in Europe. However, Dwarf hamsters gained their name because they are half the size (fully grown) of Syrian hamsters. Hence the name dwarf.
What types of Dwarf hamsters are available?
There are many types of dwarf hamster, but the ones sold by pet stores and breeders are:
Which kind of hamster should I buy?
Before purchasing a new pet hamster, it is advised to research into each type of hamster and understand which one would best suit yourself and your personality.
For example, do you plan to keep a small cage because you do not have enough room for a 60×40 (internal floor space) cage/bin? If so, maybe a hamster is not the pet for you.
What will I need to keep a new hamster in my life?
Just like owning any pet, they require love, attention and a good environment. Dwarf hamsters LOVE space. A nice big cage or bin will prevent biting, aggression and attempts to escape the cage – and making a lot of noise doing so.
When caring for dwarf hamsters you will need:
Cage – A cage will provide a home for your hamster and the biggest mistake people think is “It’s a small hamster so it will need a small cage.” WRONG. Anything bigger than 60×40cm (floor space) will be a good size. The more space the better – you will be surprised how much energy they have.
Bedding – Bedding is the material that goes generally on the floor around the cage or tank. It provides protection, helps encourage natural foraging and burrowing. Bedding will also help keep their environment cleaner while soaking up hamster waste. A good bedding brand is Tumblefresh.
Accessories – These are the toys, extra mineral licks/blocks and chewable sticks within the cage. Dwarf hamster accessories will help prevent biting of the bars, wanting to escape and unhappiness. The more accessories i.e. tubes, chewable flavoured items and toys (wheels, platforms or seesaws) the happier your hamster will be. Accessories are very important in a hamster’s life – Chinese Dwarf hamsters love climbing but Russian Dwarf hamsters cannot climb as well and prefer burrowing and tubes.
Food – There are more than enough brands supplying small hamster foods however they can seem misleading. A healthy balanced diet is very important and will help prevent diabetes or obesity. Pellets are a preferred option as they contain a mixture in each pellet. Dwarf hamsters prefer to eat the fatty nuts rather than the good bits of the mixture. It is recommended to add a tablespoon of pellets a day and then every 2-3 days sprinkle some muesli, fresh vegetables or fruit around their cage.
Doing your research into each type of hamster beforehand is essential to being a proud owner.
What Should I Expect?
Owning your new hamster is very exciting, but what exactly should you expect with your first hamster?
The behaviour of a hamster is 85% observed at night as these creatures are nocturnal. This simply means that within the day, a hamster will only wake up every 2-5 hours to get food or nourishment. In the wild, it is safer for hamsters to forage and therefore adapt this lifestyle from birth.
All animals can show aggressive or strange behaviour, but you must remember there is always a reason. If your hamster is biting, this is most probably because they are still not comfortable around their owners and feel like they need to defend themselves.
Within the first few weeks it is normal behaviour to expect some biting and aggression towards you. Just do not show fear and be patient when handling.
Roborovski Dwarf hamsters are the newest type to pet stores and are a lot harder to tame, unlike a Russian or a Syrian (non-Dwarf hamster). This is something to consider before purchasing.
If your problem recurs. Seek help online or contact your local vet as there possibly may be health issues.
What NOT to Do!
You love your Dwarf hamster – do not do these if you want the best life for it:
Blow air or loud sudden noises – These tiny creatures have excellent hearing and are easily scared. Blowing on them will quickly anger your hamster and can ruin your relationship causing biting and fear.
A partner of a different type – NEVER mix different types of hamsters together as this is seriously dangerous for both breeds and will result in death. Most hamster will not live with a partner however there are some exceptions with Russian Dwarf hamsters.
A small cage with little bedding or accessories – This is not only cruel but causes multiple problems in the future as your hamster will quickly become bored and start chewing through its cage and accessories costing its owner a fortune. Lots of bedding promotes burrowing and accessories stop boredom.
Exercise ball for longer than an hour – The exercise ball is a great way for a hamster to get a bit more exercise and explore your room safely. But air circulation is poor, limit exercise ball time to 30 minutes and ensure all doors are closed and there is no access to stairs.
Dwarf hamsters are very precious, ensure you handle them with care or you could be bitten and struggle to handle your hamster.
If you follow this guide you will be the proud owner of a Dwarf hamster and have a long relationship. Dwarf hamsters live for around 1-3 years and will bring smiles and happiness into your life.