How to Care for Russian Dwarf Hamsters
When buying, adopting or owning a new dwarf hamster, it helps knowing what you will need. Today we are going to look at a Russian Dwarf Hamster Care Sheet.
Russian dwarf hamsters are becoming more popular as pets around the world because they are easy to maintain, care for and inexpensive to keep. They are very popular with young adults, children from 7 onwards and adults.
This page will cover everything you need to know about caring for a Russian dwarf hamster, what you will need and some extra how to guides + tips & tricks.
To skip to what you are looking for click one of the below:
- Where to buy one & choosing the right one for you
- Can they live together?
- Everything you will need
- How to tame your pet
- Typical behaviour
What Campbell’s & Winter Whites Need
Campbell’s & Winter White dwarf hamsters are also known as Russian dwarf hamsters. In fact RDH’s is the broad name for both these and hybrids between the two.
When caring for dwarf hamsters you will need:
Cage – A cage will provide a home for you hamster and the biggest mistake people do is think “it’s a small hamster so it will need a small cage”. WRONG. Anything bigger than 60×40 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 borrowing. Bedding also will help keep their environment cleaner whilst soaking up hamster waste. A good bedding brand is Carefresh, see the shopping list below for best places to buy.
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 flavored items and toys (Wheels, platforms or seesaws) the happier your hamster will be. Check out our Top 10 Accessories They LOVE Here
Food – There are more than enough brands for 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 everything in one pellet. Russian dwarf hamsters prefer to eat the fatty nuts than the good stuff. What we do is add a table spoon of pellets a day and then every 2-3 days we sprinkle some muesli, fresh vegetables or fruit around their cage.
What is a Russian Dwarf Hamster?
“Russian dwarf hamsters” is the name given to a mix breed between Campbell’s dwarf hamsters & Winter Whites. Also known as hybrids, they are roughly half the size of a Syrian hamster, or “Golden hamsters”, as they more commonly known.
The name “Russian Dwarf Hamster” encompasses three different breeds of dwarf hamsters.
Russian hamsters are one of the most popular dwarf hamsters kept as pets worldwide and come in many colours and patterns.
The lifespan of a dwarf hamster depends on diet, their environment and breed. But most live from 1-2 years, in some cases 3 years.
Campbell’s dwarf hamsters were first discovered in Mongolia on July 1st, 1902. Winter Whites, also know as Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamsters or Siberian Dwarf Hamsters, come from multiple areas of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Sibera (According to Wikipedia)
Russian dwarf hamsters are available at most local pet shops. However, if your hamster is fed a high sugar diet, it is more prone to diabetes (hybrids especially). Do not let this deter you from being a dwarf hamster parent, as they are still adorable little creatures.
Where to Buy One?
Choosing the right hamster for you may seem tricky at first but it is easy to pick one on their behaviour, colour and gender.
You can buy Russian, Chinese and Robovorski dwarf hamsters in pet-stores and pet shops around the world. If you are looking for pure Campbell’s or Winter Whites then finding a breeder is you best option.
How to pick a Healthy, Happy Hamster – When you are ready to care for a hamster it is advised that you handle all (same type) of the hamsters that are available before buying. But before you do that, check the adoption section as it is always better to save a life. See RussianDwarfHamster.Org’s Adopted Hamster Video Here.
When handling a hamster, observe its behaviour towards you. Most dwarf hamsters will show signs of fear as they are not used to being handled, and are still quite young. If the hamster you want is acting nervous, it is very simple to teach it that there is nothing to be afraid of; just use our 5 Steps to Success taming a Russian dwarf hamster.
Once you have handled all of the hamsters you are interested in caring for, check their tale for wet tale. Although it is unlikely you may need to inform the pet store if one has wet tale. However one of the staff will assist you while you are handling a hamster.
How much do they cost? – To buy a dwarf hamster they cost anything from $8-20 or £8-12 however it is half price or sometimes free to adopt.
Can Russian Dwarf Hamsters Live Together?
Russian hamsters are known for being one of the most sociable within the Phodopus genus. Many say that they can live with a companion where as many people do not. Before you decide on getting two, I recommend you read… Should I Get One or Two Dwarf Hamsters
The chances of Russian dwarf hamsters living together may be little, but it is important to understand that when keeping two together, you will need:
- Their own accessories (food bowl, wheel, house and accessories)
- Space, keeping two together will require an aquarium/tank size of 120x80x40+ or 130L+ bin
- Both come from the same litter (brother & sisters)
- A spare cage/tank just in case
Even though these are essential, your two dwarf hamsters may still not live happily together and begin to fight in the future. It is normal if one wants to live alone.
It is not advised to keep a male and female together as they will breed.
TIP: Females seem to live more peacefully together than males. When males grow to 7+ weeks of age they slowly get more territorial. They rub their scent glands over areas to mark territory and this causes fall outs of space. Females do not have scent glands.
Everything You Will Need For Your New Russian Dwarf Hamster
Preparing for your new pet is crucial for any owner. If you are new to hamsters then you may think that it will cost you a fortune to have, but it won’t if you know where to get good deals online.
Here is a list of everything you will need:
- A suitable cage, tank or bin cage. We recommend a bin cage, click here to learn more.
- Bedding, food & nesting materials – See our Russian dwarf hamster care section here.
- Plenty of accessories – See our TOP 5 here.
- Cage essentials – A water bottle, hamster house, suitable wheel + an exercise ball.
All of the above are very important and will be required to keep a small hamster. If you’re more interested in getting a cage than a bin, Watch Our Ferplast Duna Cage Review Video Here.
How Big Should Your Dwarf Hamster Environment Be?
Many people think that because Russian dwarf hamsters are small, they will not need much space. THIS IS INCORRECT…
The recommended floor space for Russian hamsters is 90x60x50. Space is very important for these creatures as in the wild they will travel many miles every day. To avoid your hamster biting the bars, becoming overweight or chewing through its accessories it is advised to give them plenty of room.
Accessories provide plenty of entertainment, fun and will keep your hamster happy. The more accessories within an environment, the better. They enjoy:
1. Tubes – In the wild they spend most of their time underground burrowing. Hamster tubes are great accessories to have because tubes are similar to underground tunnels.
2. Wooden bendable bridges – Hamsters LOVE these! Being flexible, easy to use and good for their teeth we voted bendable wooden bridges as number 2 in our Top 5 Russian dwarf hamster accessories list.
3. Sand bath – A Sand bath is a great accessory to have and will prevent odour, greasy fur and boredom. Have you seen How To Create A Sand Bath yet?
How to Tame a Russian Dwarf Hamster
Taming a dwarf hamster at a younger age is very important and will help build a strong long lasting relationship with your Russian.
How to Tame a Dwarf Hamster – A tame Russian dwarf hamster is friendly, handle able and generally does not show signs of aggression (biting) or fear towards you. Here is our official Russian dwarf taming guide:
The benefits are worth the time and your hamster will become comfortable with human interaction. To see our FULL Guide > 5 Steps to Success Click Here.
Russian Dwarf Hamster Behaviour
The behaviour of Russian dwarfs takes years of observation to truly understand. Here is a brief list of what they will do within a day:
- Sleep through the day (roughly 9am – 9pm)
- Wake up every 1-4 hours to get food, water or to burn energy
- Wake up in the evening and become very active at night
Common behaviour that is normal – Sudden burst of energy may seem abnormal but for a hamster this is common. This generally may happen due to food that they ate earlier within the day, being digested into energy.
Other common behaviour for dwarf hamsters – Eating only the ‘fattier’ foods like sunflower seeds, nuts and other types of seeds is common behaviour. These types of foods are similar to fast food to humans. They taste great for dwarf hamsters but are not suitable unless supplied with a balanced diet.
Hamster Food TIP: Pellets are recommended by vets, pet stores and by us because they contain a balanced diet that will not allow your hamster to just eat the fattier foods. Pellets are a mix of everything they need. To learn more about this, see our care section here.
How to Keep Russian Dwarf Hamsters Enjoying Their Environment
Changing their environment often will prevent boredom with your hamster. A great way to do this is after cleaning out their cage or tank, simply reorder everything in different ways. For example put their house on the other side of the cage or food bowl in a different location.
Hamsters LOVE This…
Grab yourself some dried nuts, muesli or fruit/vegetables and scatter it around their environment. This encourages natural foraging for food and will keep them busy. You will be surprised how more active your hamster will become and happier he or she will be.
To learn more about what foods, vegetables and fruits you should give you hamster see our Care Section Here.
What Not To Do – Handling & Basics
There are plenty of easy to make mistakes when having a hamster and the most common are when handling.
Whenever attempting to handle a dwarf hamster you should never put your fingers or hands in front of them (before they are tamed). It is common for a new hamster to bite or show aggressive behaviour towards you in the early stages of handling.
Hamster’s need a bit of time to get used to you and taming them really pays of in the long run. Learn how to tame your Russian dwarf hamster here.
How to Pick up a Dwarf Hamster
Always scoop them up from underneath with two hands. As if you would scoop water with your hands. This is the best way to prevent biting and to pick them up safely.
Russian Dwarf Hamster Care Sheet Shopping List – The Essential Stuff
In this section you will see the necessary list for owning a dwarf hamster for the first time. In this list you will see what we recommend and the best places to save you money/time.
Here is your Russian Dwarf Hamster Care shopping list:
- A good sized cage or Aquarium (bigger than 60×40. See what we recommend here.
- CareFresh Bedding is one of the best. See more reviews here.
- For scattering and adding onto pellets use this.
- Oxbow will provide a healthy balanced diet. Recommended by us.
- Accessories are very important. Click here to see our Top 10
- Cage cleaning products, we recommend Nature’s Miracle
- Mineral Licks & Chewy Sticks… 5 Star rated Click Here
- Exercise Ball will allow them to get out of their cage for a run + keep them healthy.
- Food bowl, Water bottle & Wheel. Most of these come with the Ferplast Duna Cage (See our Review Here)
You can buy all of these online and we have provided links to all of the best deals and places to but these. Be sure to check the reviews before you make you mind up. You should have everything you need now and will be ready to look after a dwarf hamster.
Have you got everything you need? If you still need help, leave a comment below…
More Excellent Guides for Dwarf Hamsters:
- Top 10 Dwarf Hamster Accessories They LOVE
- How To Stop Hamsters Biting The Bars
- Top 10 Recommended Dwarf Hamster Cages
- Fighting – What To Do To Stop Fighting